If I’m being perfectly honest, I had little to no interest in Raskulls prior to getting my hands on it. As cute and goofy as the characters may have appeared in the trailers and screenshots, the look of the gameplay just kind of grated on me. The idea of having to zap blocks out of your way all while battling against three other boneheads to take the lead just seemed like something that would be, at best, fun for all of five minutes. As it turns out, I was wrong.
That is how the game plays: you zap blocks out of your way and collect power-ups and boosts scattered throughout the map against up to three other Raskulls. It may seem a bit simple on the surface, but there’s a surprising layer of depth beneath it all. The layout of the blocks in each race can be quite tricky, making it so that you have to save your boost until you’re confident you can make the most out of it. And if you’re just mindlessly throwing away your power-ups, you’re very likely to get your skull handed to you on a silver platter. In short, Raskulls‘ take on racing is a lot of fun.
These races are the focal point of the game, but there’s also three zones worth of singleplayer content to get you familiar with the Raskulls. The most refreshing thing about the singleplayer campaign, known as the ‘Mega Quest’, is that not all of your time will be spent racing. Each zone throws a great mix of puzzles, standard races, races with multiple laps and checkpoint races. There are also special challenge missions you can take on, some of which unlock cheats for use in singleplayer while others will unlock new characters for use in local or online multiplayer, giving you plenty of things to do in the Mega Quest.
The Mega Quest kicks off with a space-faring “Pirat” ship full of talking rats crash landing on the Raskulls’ home planet — and that says pretty much all you need to know about how goofy the storyline is. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it never takes itself too seriously and it all works great. The missions throughout the Mega Quest are in general very entertaining, but the difficulty ramps up very significantly in the later challenge missions, and it all seems really uneven. Some of the challenges in the last zone, for instance, are a cakewalk, but nearly all of the challenges from the second zone are brutal. It can be frustrating at times, but the overall experience is a good time throughout.
The Mega Quest is good for a couple of hours of fun, but the rest of your time will be spent with local and online multiplayer. In local multiplayer you can pick between quick race or one of the four Grand Prix races and battle it out with up to three of your pals. For those of you who prefer your multiplayer to be of the online variety, you’ll be stuck with only the option to race up to three others in a Grand Prix race. The selection of 12 maps to play on both local and online multiplayer may seem a bit low, but there’s enough variety in each of the maps that it feels more than enough, especially given the low barrier of entry at 800 Microsoft Points.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find very many matches to test just how well the online multiplayer ran, but the matches I did manage to play all ran very smoothly, especially considering two of them included people from Germany and Italy. While the online component is a blast and I would highly recommend you play it, I see this working a lot better as a local party game. The game’s frantic and competitive nature lends itself well to local play.
A puzzle-platformer-racer may not sound particularly good on paper, but Raskulls will surprise you. The singleplayer experience is packed with humor, over 50 levels, numerous unlockables and the multiplayer experience is an absolute blast to play for hours on end. The lack of variety seen in the singleplayer experience on the online side is a bit disappointing, but it’s easy to forgive such a thing when you’re having such a good time with what you have. If you don’t at least give the demo a spin, you’re missing out.
Score: 9/10 – Wonderful
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