Thanks to NIS AMERICA for the review code
Title: MAD RAT DEAD
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 10/30/2020
In this rhythmic platformer, you take control of a rat brought back from the dead, seeking his final wish before the journey to the afterlife! But will his quest for revenge be in vain, or will it teach him a very important lesson instead?
Right off the bat, Mad Rat Dead makes a brilliant first impression through its art style: stylish, well-designed characters that are memorable at a glance, and even moreso during the game itself thanks to great animations and the continual plot. Whether it’s the main cast of characters, good guy NPCs, or the strange, trippy enemies, this game has style all around.
It definitely helps the game stand out quite a lot, but of course a musically focused platformer wouldn’t be complete without a good soundtrack, and Mad Rat Dead has a very worthy one indeed: lots of songs ranging from catchy, to upbeat, to frantic, to all sorts of great musical bops accompany this fun game, it really flows well, despite all the actions you have to time to each song!
Mad Rat Dead is a rhythmic platformer, where the main goal is to guide the mad rat to the end of each stage, while dashing, jumping, rolling, and stomping to the beat of the rhythm. Indeed, those four actions are mapped to the four face buttons, and must be timed to the rhythm in order to be pulled off. Plus, since the game isn’t an autoscroller, you’ll also have to move left or right as the level demands, and while movement isn’t tied to rhythm like the four actions, it’s very slow, meaning that you’ll have to keep up with those actions during all this.
If the above sounds like overwhelming chaos, then that is partially right, since each action has to be timed with the rhythm, and the longer you do this, the bigger your chain gets, with the better chains leading to better ranks for the stage, so if you get the rhythm down well enough to hit notes most of the time, you’ll be chaining rolls into dashes and jumps in no time! Of course, if you just want to focus on enjoying the story, making it to the end of the stage is all you need to do, and thankfully messing up a note will only fail the action.
Yes, this means that if you’re doing some tricky platforming and miss the beat, you’ll fall into a pit and die, but in Mad Rat Dead, death isn’t really much of a hassle outside of being a combo breaker and wasting your remaining time. In fact, upon dying you rewind back to a suitable moment, where you can resume play and undo the fatal mistake.
In theory, this sounds like it’s impossible to lose any stage whatsoever, but there is one thing that will end your game, and that’s the time limit. Throughout each stage, the timer ticks down, and when it hits 0, your time is up and you fail the stage! Thus, that’s why it’s key to keep the rhythm up in order to move through the stage faster, to reach that exit wall in time.
On the normal difficulty setting (used in the story mode), this isn’t too difficult to manage outside of the boss battles, but on the hard mode versions of the stages, (available in the stage select), that’s when the timer comes after you hard, since not only do the rhythms get more complicated, but red notes are added to the mix, which require multiple button presses to be pulled off in order to do the single action. On stages with a lot of obstacles in your way, this means you’ll die plenty of times, making these versions a true test of mastery.
With ranks up to S+ to accomplish for each stage, in both normal and hard variants, along with in-game achievements, Mad Rat Dead does offer a good amount of replay value, despite only having a few modes on offer, with just the main story mode and a stage select. But rather than the stage select only letting you replay an old stage with its associated song, you can actually mix a stage with a completely different song, leading to different platforming experiences. Do you go with an easy platforming stage mixed with a frantic song to up the difficulty, or do you mix a tougher stage with a laid-back song to make things a bit easier? It really does add an extra layer of replay value to shake up these stages, which I really find to be a great addition.
In conclusion, Mad Rat Dead is just a joy to play, offering a rhythmic experience with catchy music, great characters, fun level design and a surprisingly engaging story. With in-game achievements to go after, plenty of stages to perfect and master, and differing difficulties, Mad Rat Dead has a good variety of content to offer, alongside it’s engaging main story.
There’s really not much else to gripe about, save for how some of the songs are better than others, and thus having to play a boring one after a few greats can be a real drag, but otherwise Mad Rat Dead is a very fun, very well-made rhythmic platformer that I’m very glad I gave a spin. For $40, this is absolutely a steal for rhythm fans, and while the songs themselves may not convert someone into a new fan of this genre, the charming characters definitely might.
I give Mad Rat Dead an 8 out of 10.