If you played the famous MediEvil on the PS1, you will certainly identify some similar points in Pumpkin Jack. The Halloween-themed game arrived to accompany the celebration of this holiday and landed on all consoles of the current generation. Pumpkin Jack was developed by one single person, Nicolas Meyssonnier, and it certainly surprises with its above average quality in several aspects, taking into account even more that there’s not a large dev team behind the product. However, this makes the game more susceptible to flaws if the correct quality control measures are not taken, or a group of people who play video games for leisure do not test the final version of the game.
Pumpkin Jack tells us the fictional story of when the Devil declared war on humanity, and they asked for a wizard to fight the evil forces. Thus the Devil invokes Pumpkin Jack’s spirit as his most powerful weapon to counterattack. So the plot revolves around its main mission: to defeat the wizard and overcome humankind.
In terms of gameplay, Pumpkin Jack makes it clear that its intention is to be a tribute to classics from the golden era platform genre of the most streamlined 3D games – this is even more obvious with the game description on e-stores. Pumpkin Jack has everything that makes it well done and worthy of being called “quality stuff” such as awesome character design, linear, but well-defined stages, unique moments of fights with bosses who got unique patterns, checkpoints, etc. The player will spend most of his time facing enemies like ghosts, skulls that throw projectiles at Jack, among other treats. Not only that, but also jumping from one platform to another, avoiding falling into holes and lakes that can drown our protagonist. In addition, there are puzzle moments where Jack simply plucks his pumpkin head and makes it walk in confined places using its roots. It’s an end to solving fun puzzles and freeing a passage so that the character’s physical body can advance into it. There are some different puzzles from taking a bomb from one place to another to play a memory match game with headstones.
There’s not much secret in playing Pumpkin Jack, and the maximum in terms of extra factor to worry about is the unlockable skins gotten through trading off by floating crow’s skulls, which are scattered throughout the scenery and hidden in objects such as barrels and boxes. Unfortunately, the combat is only for the charge of defeating enemies for fun, or to make them drop energy spheres so that Jack regains his health, but nothing more else. There’s no genuine reason to face the monsters in the game, such as upgrades, items shopping, consumables, points to spend in the store, absolutely nothing. Pumpkin Jack has the total right to present something simple, but this removes the reason for the existence of any element when it loses its importance. The controls are also “ok”, and pass a feeling of lack of precision, especially when jumping from one platform to another. The dialogues are kinda funny and, although there is no voice acting for the characters’ dialogues (only short grunts), the chats are usually good enough to get the interest of those who are reading – although not at all memorable.
The stage structure is somewhat similar, but sometimes it presents different gameplay. I really enjoyed the moments when we are challenged to jump from one place to another and focus on precision and balance, using mushrooms as a trampoline, among other already known elements of the platform genre. The mandatory moments – which referred to me as infinite running games – which imposes the use of a mining car are a little frustrating, and seek a direction to be followed to follow the tracks, but the full visualization of what is ahead is not always possible. Moments of gameplay mounted on the horse are also irritating, especially at a time when the enemy is hindering your ability to see what’s ahead, causing you to hit the wall and dying. Two of these mini-games are really good and less punitive: the gargoyle one and the race against the undead knights. However, the respawn process takes time, and constant deaths are a real pain due to the loading time that can reach up to 12 seconds.
However, Pumpkin Jack’s brilliance is certainly thanks to the moments of boss fights, when we need to understand each movement and attack patterns. In general, they are expendable, simple and take less than 5 minutes, but competent enough to break the constant platform rhythm of the gameplay, while focusing a little more on dodging and attack.
Anyway, there’s no interaction with the scenario or strategy for each boss presented – sadly. New weapons are also unlocked throughout the storyline, and I honestly can’t say if one has more attack power than the previous ones – but it seems to do – I just understand that the attacks differ according to the equipment and change Jack’s stance.
Going straight to the point, Pumpkin Jack is a good game, but fails to take advantage and make sense of the implemented mechanics that, in the end, end up losing their purpose in gameplay. Collectable crow skulls stimulate to find and explore the scenario, but only if you’re the kind of person who likes to get new skins – I like it. Unfortunately the game ended up being shallower than I thought it’d be, and that’s quite sad because I was truly enjoying Pumpkin Jack from the first contact. Even so, it’s a highly recommended and fun experience, with a guarantee of about 7 or 8 hours of fun.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pumpkin Jack Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Replay Value - 5/10
User Review( votes)
Pumpkin Jack is a good game, but fails to take advantage and make sense of implementing mechanics that, in the end, end up losing their purpose in gameplay.
- Awesome character visuals.
- Good level design.
- Unlockable weapons.
- Unlockable skins.
- Cool boss battles.
- A bit repetitive.
- Older weapons lose relevance.
- Almost zero replay value.
- No precision at jumping.
- Bad designed minigames.