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Avatar ImageGamer Limit Review: Raskulls
By: | December 29th, 2010 | Xbox 360
Review |X360 |XBLA

Puzzle games are a dime a dozen, and most of them don’t seek to evolve the genre. The majority of the time, you see slight variants in gameplay, such as Luxor’s slight variation to Zuma, but nothing really pushes the boundaries of previous iterations.

Thankfully, Halfbrick’s Raskulls puts an end to the long line of Mr. Driller clones, and manages to not only re-invent the genre, but turn it completely upside-down. Read on to find out why you absolutely need Raskulls on your Xbox 360′s hard-drive.

The idea of Raskulls is pretty simple. Like Mr. Driller, your character can “pop” colored blocks, which allow you to progress through a stage, or complete a puzzle. But the comparisons truly stop at the concept of popping blocks. Raskulls features a number of different modes, a lot of which focus on four player races, involving powerups, mid-race puzzles, and overdrive abilities.

For starters, Raskulls contains a full, progression based story mode – something that isn’t really found in modern day puzzle games. Consisting of three chapters, the campaign simultaneously features story-driven races and puzzles, as well as tutorials to help you in the game’s multiplayer component. During your time with the campaign, you’ll also watch the on-going saga of the battle between the Skull King, and the dastardly Rat Pirates. Surprisingly enough, the game’s humor made me laugh out loud numerous times, and the jokes range from your standard internet “l33t” fare, to grim dark humor, to knee-slapping Saturday morning cartoon antics.

In addition to the strong sense of humor, Raskulls also doesn’t play around with arbitrary goals for their campaign. For instance, in a particular bomb defusing level, you aren’t just blowing up bombs for the hell of it: it’s because the mischievous Mummy Raskull put them there to guard his tomb. On another stage, you aren’t just tunneling down a particular mountain for nothing: you’re trying to help Red Riding Skull escape her creepy unrequited lover, Mage Skull.

Every stage is hand-made and tailored to a new experience, and it helps add a ton of unique charm that will keep you going without wanting to stop. For instance, there are sculpting levels, that require you to carve out specific blocks; levels that limit the amount of blocks you can destroy; and so on. All of these concepts never overstay your welcome, and by the time you master a certain level type, you’ll be moving on to the next one.

The world map system also lets you skip some levels if they’re too hard, or you can’t grasp a particular concept. In addition to all of the activities I mentioned above, you’ll also have a number of boss races, and even a final, classic old school boss finale. Long story short, you won’t get bored of the campaign for a second. If you were to get every medal in every level, expect it to take around five hours (and if you want, there are a number of leaderboard levels that compare you to your friends), which is pretty hefty for a $10 game that includes multiplayer options.

A lot of the campaign’s fun factor, for me, came from unlocking the game’s various multiplayer characters through secret challenges and stages. After earning a certain amount of medals, or beating certain levels, “star” stages unlock, which feature a specific challenge from a brand new character. If you complete the challenge, you can use the new model in any race or multiplayer game – almost all of them are cute, and Raskulls even features gaming blog Destructoid’s own robot mascot, “Mr. Destructoid”.

Most puzzle games suffer from a major problem: a lack of online community, and a lack of bots. Meaning, once you’re done with the story, you have nothing to do. Thankfully, Raskulls not only includes online and offline multiplayer, but bots as well, so you can race to your heart’s desire on any of the four grand prix courses, or any of the game’s 16 racetracks. While your mileage may vary when it comes to the online community (and what XBLA game doesn’t), four player split-screen local play and single player bot races should keep you busy for a long while. If I had to guess any upcoming DLC, it would be additional story chapters and race packs – and from the looks of the main menu, there is something planned.

The grand prix challenges are extremely fun, and even have their own meta-unlock as well. If you play them offline, you can unlock the special “Intense” bot difficulty if you complete a grand prix race set on hard mode. It’s these little nuances that make games stand out among their contenders, and give you something substantial to do in any mode you choose.

I seriously doubt anyone would play Raskulls and not enjoy some aspect of what it has to offer. The numerous puzzles, races, and power-up heavy multiplayer facets are sure to engage just about any type of gamer out there: puzzle fan or not. If you have any free time in the near future, I’d recommend downloading the trial version and see what it has to offer: you won’t be disappointed.

Rating Category
9.5 Presentation
Raskulls can look rough at times, but during gameplay, it runs as smooth as butter, and the cutscenes are adorable.
How does our scoring system work?
10.0 Gameplay
There really isn't a game out there like Raskulls - it's so simple to play, yet there is a ton of depth to it.
9.0 Sound
While the story mode voice acting is cute, and the music is great, the sound effects aren't that special.
10.0 Longevity
For $10, you really can't go wrong with a hefty campaign, off-line bot support, local four player modes, and online play.
10.0 Overall
Raskulls is one of the best puzzle games I've ever played, and the gameplay is extremely varied: check it out.

  1. I can’t believe this is finally out. I remember hearing about it on Destructoid a while ago. Glad to hear it’s as fun as it looked when I saw the preview video.

  2. avatar mrandydixon

    So excited!

  3. I actually got to demo this at PAX. I raced my wife and two other players. My wife, who hates video games, was last place until the end when she performed a well timed attack to blow passed us and win first place. I WANT THIS GAME NOW.

    Go top hat and monocle skull!

    • avatar Open

      The game is outstanding! There’s noihtng I appreciate more than a great local multiplayer game? that gets a group of people rowdy and excited. It was really fun playing all the different game modes. Its more fun when more people play, which led me to this idea it would be awesome if the game somehow supported system link and allowed for up to 8 people to compete at once! Now THAT would really get a party going. But I understand if that’s just wishful thinking. Regardless, the game is awesome!

  4. avatar Jickle

    Excellent review. I’m really enjoying the game too.

  5. avatar ArtGhost

    Awesome game, excellent multiplayer no lag at all even if no bars showed, i love it

  6. avatar Matt

    wow, just want to say that I’m completely surprised that you gave this 100. I was pretty excited about this game. No doubt it is graphically polished and characterisation is wonderful but the gameplay itself is very simple and somewhat repetitive. Its a mr driller clone with a couple of weapons masquerading as much deeper game.

    No doubt the game is fun and quirky but after a few plays, the truth depth of the game is revealed and you’re left with a lot of ideas for what would have made this game better.

    After the amount of time that was put into the design and overall feel of the game, I’m surprised it failed to evolve into something more impressive. 6/10

    • avatar N0x

      Don’t get it if you’re expecting a $10 game to replicate a $60 console experience like Halo.

    • avatar Matt

      Yeah, I understand the difference between this and a AAA title. People don’t expect these games to be that of the level of say a COD game. Most of the effort of a AAA would most likely go into graphics which is something that Raskulls does very well. It creates a wonderful theme with the graphics and overall presentation. The thing that hurts this game is the simplicity of it. It makes me wonder if more was intended for this game but was removed from the game because it simply didn’t work or wasn’t fun.

    • avatar Open

      Well kinda going off of the Nancy Drew suggestion.. there is a (sort of) point-and-click onnlie game it’s those hidden-in-a-room type of games. Like the Crimson Room idk. I remember playing those all. I don’t really like onnlie games since they’re all not THAT much fun

    • avatar Enas

      I just asked this question but I foorgt to mention that the guy doesnt know the girl. Girls what does it mean when a girl waves at a guy and he doesnt know her? Lets say the guy is turned around and a group of girls or or one girl calls his name and when he turns around she waves smiling sometimes laughing. This all happens in school and the guy has never spoken to her other than saying hello. Also this usually happens in a crowd. Does this mean anything?

  7. Just started this game last night. Fun times, but I’d kill for a wall or double jump.

    • avatar Somaya

      I am 18 and several girls (girls who weren’t frednis and were not trying to embarrass me) have told me to my face (without me asking them to tell me what they think of my looks or anything like that) that I am good looking, including one of my frednis, who told me she still thinks I am good looking, even though she has a boyfriend. I however do not think I am good looking and I am worried that my penis size is too small (7 inches). Recently, I went to this college orientation, and there was a girl there (who was pretty attractive), and my friend who I am going to college with said that she kept turning her head and looking at me throughout this meeting and checking me out, and he was serious. The thing is, I will say I think I am decent looking and I am more modest than I first come across here, but I want to avoid having a relationship my whole life. I really want to have sex and think about girls all the time and am a normal teenage guy in that way, but I think I should avoid sex forever. If I get in some sort of relationship, I would eventually have to have sex, and I don’t want a girl to see me without my clothes on. I am not gay and I am only attracted to women.I don’t think I wold have sex with a girl who I am not in a relationship with. If I am going to have sex with a girl, I want her to either be my girlfriend or my wife. That is what I am planning on right now, since everyone seems to think that I would not be able to avoid sex forever.

  8. avatar James

    And of course, it’s made in Australia! :D

  9. avatar Matt

    Also, it just seems that scores are being boosted mainly because of people’s loyalty to an Australian Developer. :)

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