Mad Rat Dead (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Luke Hemming 28.10.2020

Review for Mad Rat Dead on Nintendo Switch

Nippon Ichi Software, famous for JRPG titles such as the highly regarded Disgaea and Ys series has flipped the script with the release of Mad Rat Dead, a rhythm-based platformer of all things. With a history of turn based adventuring and endless questing, is this cheesy title a tails length too far? After a substantial amount of time racing through the labs and sewers of Mad Rat, there might be a new animal to contest for the NI Software flagship crown.

Opening with a morbid dissection of a nameless rodent, Mad Rat Dead poses some bizarre moral quandaries to the player, similar to the way players chose their character build in the original Kingdom Hearts. This time these questions seem to only serve the purpose of setting the scene for the morbid storyline that follows. The rat is opened up and killed, waking in front of a glowing rat deity that gives the said rat the chance to relive their last day on earth before the scalpel hit. Does he choose to make peace with his fate? Of course not. What follows is an oncoming storm of vengeance against all that have had a hand in his unavoidable fate, framed in a vibrant rhythm-based platformer.

Visuals wise, any onlooker would assume that gameplay follows the standard movement of character from A to B with the directional and input buttons. It's here however that the genius of Mad Rat Dead rears its (nose?) All movement is controlled by tapping the appropriate button in time with the bouncing soundtrack accompanying each level and directional buttons take charge of attacking any enemies or collecting items on the way. As expected with a game focusing purely on rhythm, two factors need to be honed in order for any title to not fall flat; Responsiveness and the music itself. Both are pretty much nailed here.

Screenshot for Mad Rat Dead on Nintendo Switch

Mad Rat moves pretty much seamlessly through each environment and with very little adjustments needing to be made before beginning the path to destruction. Early levels did seem slightly sluggish due to mastery of the double and triple jumping needed, although there is a very good chance this was reviewer error rather than the games. After fully getting into the swing of what was happening these initial niggles seemed to fade. It does certainly take some getting used to and any player might benefit from taking the quick option to calibrate the lag before starting.

As for the levels themselves, vibrant colours and inspired character designs explode out of the switch and make every traversal a joy- if time can be taken to pull the eyes away from the beats being shown across the bottom of the screen. The design of Mad Rat himself is a steampunk delight, with a clockwork heart embedded into his chest that not only looks amazing but also serves a practical purpose. By using the heart after an accidental drop into a pit or mis-timed jump into an enemy, time can be reversed.

A quick flick of the directional stick will bring up a VHS style rewind screen to bring the player back to a safe point in which to continue. Continue gamers will, with one of the funkiest soundtracks since James Brown split his last split. Bringing together a number of artists from independent music labels to experienced composers in gaming such as Kouichi Sakita (famous for working on numerous Sonic titles), Mad Rat Dead bursts into (after)life with a bold big band sound. Nippon Ichi also took the masterful step of allowing each tune to be played separately from the main game for full listening enjoyment. As previously mentioned with a game purely focused on rhythm, the soundtrack is the hill these games die on. It's a pleasure to listen to and really delivers when combined with the sharp, beautifully drawn visuals.

Screenshot for Mad Rat Dead on Nintendo Switch

Screenshot for Mad Rat Dead on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It was a bold move for Ippon Nichi to go in this direction with an already packed release schedule full of stalwarts in the JRPG genre. Thankfully, it's a gamble that has paid off. Mad Rat Dead initially will frustrate as players get to grips with the early stages, but in truth most are likely to keep hitting that restart button to enjoy both the excellent soundtrack and gorgeous visuals. It's a morbid but fascinating 'tail' that may be a huge departure from the usual studio offerings, but a very welcome one.


NIS America


NIS America





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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