We don’t find out about you, however Halloween is one among our favorite occasions of the yr. Autumn is in full pressure, supermarkets are suffering from skeletons and pumpkins, and it’s presumably the one time of yr the place it’s acceptable to look at The Exorcist on repeat whereas gorging on Toblerone (though you will forgive us if that is been our Saturday evening ritual for a lot of the yr — 2020, eh?). For many of us, Halloween will seemingly look a bit totally different this yr; some might not even hassle celebrating in any respect. Fortunately, although, Pumpkin Jack has arrived to fill the ghostly void, and we’re delighted to say that it’s completely price choosing up.
If you happen to’re a fan of the traditional motion platformer MediEvil, you then’ll be proper at residence with Pumpkin Jack. Happening within the quiet, dreadfully boring Arc En Ciel Kingdom, the Satan himself conjures up a curse to plunge the dominion into depths of despair, unleashing monsters and ghouls upon the poor, unsuspecting residents. The King duties his champion Wizard to defend his folks, so in retaliation, the Satan enlists his personal champion to tackle the Arc En Ciel Wizard: Stingy Jack.
The story is about as in-depth as you want it to be. As you traverse the land, you’ll encounter a moderately mouthy owl, who guides Jack alongside his 6-Eight hour quest with hints, ideas, and the occasional jibe. Different characters pop up right here and there, together with a service provider who sells beauty skins, and a variety of spooky boss characters that can check your platforming and fight expertise. The character and world design is just magnificent, and there’s lots right here to essentially kickstart a profitable franchise, ought to the developer select to take action (oh, and we must always point out that Pumpkin Jack was developed by only one individual, Nicolas Meyssonnier, with Adrien Lucas on porting duties).
The levels themselves are pretty open, while sustaining a snug stage of linearity. You possibly can stray off the crushed path to seek out hidden crow skulls (which could be exchanged for the beauty skins talked about earlier), however by and enormous, you’ll be following a chosen path from A to B. It’s very well achieved, and whereas a few ranges undergo from a contact of repetition, most of them are expertly paced, injecting new and absurd duties from driving a ghostly horse by a swamp to navigating a magical maze that brings again vivid reminiscences of Ocarina of Time’s Misplaced Woods.
Gameplay is break up between platforming and fight, with a couple of mini-games sprinkled in for good measure. Combating off hordes of the undead (which, after all, can’t distinguish between good friend or foe, and so assault Jack regardless) is comparatively simplistic, however constantly satisfying. Tapping ‘Y’ unleashes a combo that’s greater than able to chopping down most elementary enemies, and you can too carry out separate assaults while within the air. As you full every stage and its subsequent boss, you’ll be gifted with a brand new device of destruction, together with a magical sword, a blunderbuss, and a spear. Every has its personal distinctive assault animation, and we notably loved how the magical sword permits Jack to drift alongside the bottom like a strong mage.
The platforming is a contact trickier, and might trigger a little bit of problem right here and there. Jack can double leap proper from the beginning of the sport, however his motion is severely hampered as soon as he’s within the air. Which means if you happen to misjudge a leap and go off within the improper path, it’s fairly troublesome to right this, and also you’ll find yourself falling extra occasions than mandatory. It’s a minor gripe, although, and doesn’t rear its head an excessive amount of, notably when you’ve gotten to grips with how Jack controls. On the entire, the platforming is properly applied, and there’s loads of selection to maintain you in your toes, together with rotating columns and bouncy mushrooms.
Visually, Pumpkin Jack isn’t going to compete with a few of the Swap’s extra achieved titles, however when it comes to its artwork design, it’s completely fantastic from begin to end. It’s sometimes ‘Halloween’, with oranges, purples, and greens making up the vast majority of the color palette. The environments can really feel a tad naked at occasions, and a few of the belongings are likely to fade away from time to time (although we would argue this really provides to the spooky impact at occasions!), however the selection on show right here is commendable, and the sport hardly ever, if ever, feels stale. If you happen to’re enjoying in handheld mode, although, simply bear in mind that the graphics look fairly tough compared to docked mode.
One housekeeping measure we’d suggest if you happen to do resolve to make the leap on Pumpkin Jack is to be sure to crank up the digital camera sensitivity. The digital camera works very well for essentially the most half and infrequently will get in the way in which of the motion, however its default setting is far too sluggish. Transferring the dial proper as much as most is unquestionably the way in which to go right here, and makes the gameplay really feel a lot smoother consequently.
Pumpkin Jack is an absolute triumph. For a debut title, it’s remarkably assured in its imaginative and prescient, delivering a delightfully spooky expertise that feels very acquainted to MediEvil with out outright copying it; the truth is, with MediEvil’s controls feeling distinctly dated by 2020 requirements, we’d go as far as to say Pumpkin Jack is superior. The controls are slick with satisfying fight mechanics, and whereas the platforming can sometimes really feel a bit irritating, it’s principally very properly achieved. Visuals in handheld mode can look a bit grotty, so we’d suggest enjoying on the TV if you happen to can, and be sure to crank up that digital camera sensitivity. Concern not although, of us; Halloween is properly and really alive in 2020 due to Pumpkin Jack.