Raskulls is the newest title to hit the XBLA that is part of the Games for the Holidays promotion.  This game is new and unique, but does it fill a much needed hole in the market, or is it just a niche market?  Is the multiplayer as good as other titles out there, or was it just tacked on as an afterthought?  Continue reading to find out my thoughts and impressions on this new title from halfbrick.

You control a Raskull, or choose from an array of character in multiplayer, who wields a small wand.  This wand can blast through blocks, which are scattered throughout the levels.  When you shoot the wand, it destroys the full colorful brick infront of your character.  Along the way you may pick up a present, which turns into an item.  This item can be a random number of things, which will give you an edge up on your competition.  Thats right, as you are breaking these bricks with your wand, there are computer AI characters, or other human characters, trying to do the same and get to the finish line before you.  As if that is not enough, there are also jars of energy which when gathered fill up your boost meter.

Overall that is the jist of the game in multiplayer and most of single player.  Now there are also some unique levels where you have to blow up bombs, get shroom houses down to safety, and even carve up the blocks to look a certain way.  The single player story itself only consists of three chapters.  The chapters are laid out like the hub world from say, Super Mario Bros for the Super Nintendo.  As you beat a level either a single path, or multiple paths open up, and you get to choose which way to go.  Each chapter has a small boss at the end, which also changes up the gameplay.

The story itself is pretty weak, but it makes fun of itself almost anytime it can.  I did find myself chuckling during a few scenes.  The end nicely wraps up, and isn’t left on a cliffhanger for any type of sequel, though one could always be made.  The multiplayer doesn’t have a story tied to it, but then again not many multiplayer adventures do, especially XBLA releases.

The multiplayer can be played up to 4 player couch counter-op or over Xbox LIVE.  I personally thought the multiplayer was decent, but nothing to write home about.  To me, it got pretty boring fast, but it had its moments.  Playing on the couch with someone in the room was definitely more fun for me, but the matches over Xbox LIVE shined as well.  When playing multiplayer your character ranks up.  This will keep those who are addicted to ranking systems coming back, but this system did not really interest me.

The animation style of Raskulls is one that you do not see very often.  It reminded me of Castle Crashers, but without all the fecal references.  The art style fits very well with the style of the game, and I cannot imagine it being any different.

Overall Raskulls is a fun and unique game.  It will last you about 4 hours to finish the single player campaign.  The multiplayer is more aggressive then the last Games for the Holidays releases, a World of Keflings, but it is not the best out there.  For 800 Microsoft Points ($10) I would recommend this game.  Though if it was priced at 1200, I would definitely say to avoid it, but thankfully it is only 800 MSP.

Check out the trailer below:

Title : Raskulls
Format : XBLA
Developer : HalfBrick Studios
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date : 12/29/10

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*A code for Raskulls was provided to slimgamer from Microsoft Game Studios