Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Release: October 30, 2020
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Mad Rat Dead is a rhythm side-scrolling platformer that tells the story of Mad Rat, a lab rat who upon his death meets the Rat God and is given the chance to relive his last day so he may die with a sense of fulfillment. Mad Rat has other things on his mind. Driven for revenge, he sets out to kill the human who killed him. Accompanying him is his heart, who tries to guide Mad Rat to a death without violence. While probably not for everyone, Mad Rat Dead is a fun platformer that combines a set of seemingly unrelated elements and blends them together into a very well-polished game.
Mad Rat must use his dashing (A), jumping (B), dropping (Y), and Dancing (X) abilities to avoid rising water, flames, and amorphous enemies, some of which can be attacked and defeated while others kill on contact. When you do unfortunately die, levels do not reset. Instead, you are given the ability to rewind time and attempt the same obstacle again. However, there is a running timer for each level that does not recover time. A progress meter in the bottom of the screen indicates how close you are to the end of each level and failing to complete it before the time runs out results in all progress being lost and starting the level over. The faster you complete the level, the better your score will be. I found myself pressed for time at the end of many levels, which made for some palm-sweating endings.
Pressing a button off beat prevents any action from executing. A visual indicator along the bottom of the screen shows the music’s rhythm, and this is subtly accompanied by a haptic vibration. This vibration is excellent for times when you can’t have the sound on, and I was able to successfully beat several levels without volume.
All rhythm-based games need a soundtrack to build upon, and Mad Rat Dead’s soundtrack is perfect. It's soundtrack is hard to describe, but I really liked it. It's diverse, incorporate several different genres into up-beat techno mashups. The fast tempo tracks time perfectly with the level design, which makes for great accompanying music.
Final Grade: A
It takes a minute to get used to trying to stay in rhythm and platform at the same time, but once it clicks this game is a blast. Throw some headphones on and you can sink some time into Mad Rat Dad easy. This isn’t a genre I normally play, but I am very happy to have played this one.