Developer: Nicolas Meyssonnier
Publisher: Headup Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop Download
Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: Oct. 23, 2020 (Worldwide)
Price: $29.99 USD
Just in time for the spooky season, Pumpkin Jack, released just before Halloween. This 3D platforming throwback title features a hack n slash approach, clever humor, and fantastic background music! This game is a wonderfully developed homage to the 3D Action platforming games of yesterday such as Banjo Kazooie and Jak and Daxter.
This game was created solely by Nicolas Meyssonnier. According to his F.A.Q’s on the Pumpkin Jack website, he has been working on this game since 2017 with a small team to help with the soundtrack and porting the title to other consoles. Pumpkin Jack is available on Switch, PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
In Pumpkin Jack, you assume the role of Jack, the Devil’s go-to guy for his dirty work! You are accompanied by a very opinionated owl who guides you through every levels and has some great witty banter with Jack. The story itself is nothing to scream at. You are meant to take on Jack’s nemeses throughout the Boredom Kingdom with various means of platforming and hack-and-slash action for the Devil himself! The tranquility of the Boredom Kingdom has sent the Devil into a rage and you must do his bidding!
In the vein of classic 3D platformers, Pumpkin Jack’s story is not as deep as the classics. The story itself is rather forgettable as you take on each vibrant, yet challenging level. It’s obvious the mechanics and platforming are at the forefront of this title.
The mechanics of Pumpkin Jack are simple and clean. Hack-n-Slash your enemies with a variety of techniques and weapons and travel through each spooky, colorful world through some great platforming opportunities. Each world is filled with secret skulls that you collect and use to purchase skins for Jack, as well as a health regeneration area after each checkpoint. It’s all very simple and very well constructed, considering this game was designed by ONE PERSON.
The weapons at Jacks’s disposal are basic spear-type weapons as well as a shovel, a murder of crows, a cursed sword, a scythe, and a shotgun! You also have a crow that shoots projectiles at your enemies at a distance. Some areas in Pumpkin Jack require you to behead yourself and move around a challenging level and solve puzzles as a pumpkin-octopus combination. This breaks the somewhat monotonous tone of platforming and beating up bad guys.
This game has some fun side levels that break the boredom you could fall into. One major example is straight from the classic Donkey Kong! In some levels, you will ride a minecart and jump dodging obstacles and shooting doors to make your way through! This proved to be some of the most challenging parts of this game and definitely kept my interest throughout!
CONTENT & FEATURES:
With this game being so short, there aren’t too many extra features. There are multiple difficulties as well as quite a few costumes to unlock by finding hidden crow skulls throughout each level.
The main features of this game are the weapon variety as well as the various characters that you interact with. This game could definitely use a multiplayer mode or a battle mode or something to make it more replayable. Once again, the fact that someone made this game by themself is incredibly impressive, nonetheless!
If Pumpkin Jack actually talked, it might have ruined it for me. Sticking to the formula of old schools PS2 and N64 platformers, the characters don’t really talk except for silly grunts with dialogue to read. The writing can be a little tongue-in-cheek and cringey, but it is definitely befitting of a tiny indie game made by one person.
The music and sound effects are well done and the soundtrack is among my favorite indie soundtracks. In the realm of Tim Burton, the background music sounds like something taken straight from The Nightmare Before Christmas or even Beetlejuice. Yohan Jager did a fantastic job composing the music to this game and it really keeps this title alive throughout each level!
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
The graphics to Pumpkin Jack are very bright and vibrant and run quite smoothly on the switch in both docked and handheld mode. Each level has its own visual tone and is really pleasing to the eye. Each of the six levels have their own personality and Jack’s mechanics are quite smooth. The graphics are nicely polished and smooth as well.
The camera work can be a little kitschy and frustrating at times if you are not careful. Some targeting issues are also pretty prevalent in mass group attacks. You have to be real careful not to dodge too soon or you’ll get hit and mess up your combo. For a game that is available on other consoles, the Switch version holds up quite well and is still as visually stunning as the other system versions!
Pumpkin Jack has a place in everyone’s Switch library if you are nostalgic or a big fan of spooky, Halloween themed things. While the challenge is not huge, the platforming and timing of certain areas add a great level of difficulty to keep you going.
The story is nothing fancy, however, it is quite unique in its own way. Unfortunately, it can be rather forgetful. Most platformers like this game have more of an interesting story to give you a reason for traversing each world. It is not a terrible story, just nothing too extraordinary.
If you pick this game up expecting it to be exactly like many modern platformers, such as Super Lucky’s Tale or Yooka-Layalee, you may be disappointed. This game was developed by just one person and they did a phenomenal job, all things considered. This game is a great, short, spooky fun platformer that is geared towards those who grew up in the 90’s and yearn for the platformers of yesterday.
Pumpkin Jack is a fun, spooky time, although short and does not contain many features. It is a great game for kids who want something to paly during the Halloween season or for those who want to experience the simplicity of 3D platformers of yesterday.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*A review code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review
To check out more reviews by the Miketendo64 Review Team, feel free to click here.