Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Hands-on: Raskulls (XBLA)


Most Xbox Live Arcade enthusiasts likely aren't familiar with Halfbrick Studios, the Brisbane, Australia-based studio that's only previous work on the platform involved Indie Games that weren't very successful. After switching gears and offering some PSP Minis titles, the dev studio is back on Xbox with Raskulls, a polished and quirky game that has a variety of inspirations, from Mario Kart to Bomberman to, most notably, Mr. Driller.

Gallery: The Raskulls (XBLA) | 31 Photos

It's a puzzle-platformer at heart, offering a variety of race and puzzle-based maps where players fight each other and try to reach the checkered finish. In their way is a plethora of hurdles, including the other players, blocks and power-ups that make for a fun yet chaotic experience. Imagine Mr. Driller, but instead of having to dig down as deep as you can and steadily lose oxygen, you go in all directions racing through a winding map, breaking blocks and picking up power-ups as you go along.

Players use the X button to break blocks, and once in the thick of it, can time presses to eliminate the colorful encumbrance set before them in a more speedy manner -- it's all about timing. There's also a Frenzy gauge, which fills up as you run through certain areas of the level and, once unleashed, makes your character not only run much faster, but break blocks faster, as well. The presents that litter the map act like the question mark blocks in Mario Kart, bestowing upon you certain powerful abilities, like turning into a fireball and dashing forward, a stronger zap, a force field and even an invisibility cloak -- the latter being very handy during races when you want to get around a group of players.

There's also puzzle maps, where you're still tasked with reaching the end of a level, but you're restricted in some way and there's less pressure on your speediness. One of the earlier tutorial levels introducing the puzzle maps forced me to navigate through a mess of blocks, yet I was restricted to only a certain amount of block-breaking zaps. It meant I had to choose the fattest groups of blocks and cut through them, carefully sectioning off areas and progressing towards the end.

Raskulls will not only sport Xbox Live support for up to four players (as well as split-screen for local play), but also has a full single-player campaign mode. Utilizing a kind of Super Mario World structure, you navigate a character around the game world, fall on a token and activate a level. The main campaign will have three campaign chapters and should take average players around five to six hours to get through.

There's no word on release date or price right now, but Raskulls felt like it was a pretty polished and fun pick-up-and-play title here at PAX.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr