Pumpkin Jack Review
Because the style has slowly phased out of the AAA sphere, a number of trendy video games have tried to resurrect the late 90s to early 00s 3D motion platformer. Insomniac launched a a lot shinier tackle the unique Ratchet and Clank in 2016, Different Ocean Emeryville undertook the duty of remaking the primary MediEvil game final yr, and THQ Nordic remastered SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Backside just some months in the past. Nonetheless, only a few studios have tried to kickstart the style with a fresh IP.
Pumpkin Jack, a brand new Halloween-focused platformer devised by a single passionate developer, units out to just do that. Introducing the participant to a tongue-in-cheek world of ghosts, ghouls, and dastardly demons, it is a game that is not shy about carrying its influences on its sleeve, delivering a mixture of platforming and fight that riffs on a few of the style’s most iconic names. Sadly, this quickly turns into as a lot Pumpkin Jack’s reward as its curse, with the game in the end relying too closely on its nostalgic roots and by no means cementing what units it other than the pack.
For gamers itching to revisit the glory days the place motion platformers have been a staple of the AAA scene, this lack of a singular promoting level doubtless will not instantly set in. Nicholas Meyssonnier, the only real developer of the game, has gone on document stating he was a diehard fan of Jak and Daxter and the aforementioned MediEvil, and the affect of each turns into obvious from the second the game begins. Not solely does it stand as one thing of an ode to the fun-focused motion platforming featured in each traditional titles, however its splendidly tongue-in-cheek tone replicates what made them such enduring cult-icons.
Following an appropriately whimsical storybook prologue, the participant is thrust into the function of the titular Pumpkin Jack, an imprisoned spirit who makes a take care of the satan to free his soul. He quickly discovers that this will likely be no easy process, with Satan instructing Jack to journey to the land of Boredom Kingdom and defeat a sorcerer who’s difficult his dastardly plans. The one drawback? The dominion is stuffed with the satan’s most horrifying minions, together with ghostly scarecrows, flying skeletons, and spectral knights.
Pumpkin Jack’s endearing humor and dialogue instantly depart fairly the impression. Whereas its story actually is not something to jot down house about, its characters and world are, with the witty text-based conversations and good world-building feeling oddly paying homage to traditional platformers like Banjo Kazooie and Conker. Whether or not chatting to the shifty costume salesman who typically remarks in regards to the sheer variety of graves he is dug up or Jack’s cowardly crow associate who pales on the sight of scarecrows, Pumpkin Jack by no means takes itself too severely and is all the higher for it.
Jack’s action-packed journey leads gamers to 6 distinct ranges, with every offering a colourful new Halloween atmosphere to discover. All in all, it takes round 4 – 5 hours to see every thing the game has to supply, with the journey losing little time pumping in quite a lot of wacky mini-games and side-mechanics. In reality, Pumpkin Jack’s most fascinating moments ceaselessly come when it is displaying off how numerous its six ranges may be.
Whether or not it is mounting a ghostly horse and giving chase to a flying carriage or hopping right into a minecart and making an attempt to not careen off its precarious tracks, it appears Meyssonnier has taken further care to make sure Pumpkin Jack by no means wears out its welcome. It at all times has one thing fun up its sleeve, and even when the mini-games develop repetitive in direction of the climax of a piece, it is good to know that the following space could have some fresh actions on the itinerary
The identical may be mentioned of the degrees themselves. From a war-ravaged citadel to an eerie graveyard, every space has a singular type to name its personal, that includes fun components not current in different ranges. One section duties gamers with bouncing over spawnable mushrooms to succeed in elevated positions, whereas one other introduces a semi-open hub that requires them to perform a number of aims to progress. It is nothing groundbreaking, however it’s good to see that point was poured into making every space really feel particular person.
Exterior of those various mini-games and mechanics is the place the game begins to lose some steam, with Pumpkin Jack offering a reasonably mundane mixture of fight and platforming. The previous is certainly the weaker of the 2, with a scarcity of actual weight or punch to battles. It typically looks as if Pumpkin Jack needs to supply one thing extra compelling in terms of enemy encounters, making an assortment of weapons obtainable for the participant to strive their hand at, however it quickly turns into clear that that is little greater than a frantic, button-mashing affair. Well being plentifully cascades from useless enemies, which means brute power is usually essentially the most direct path to success, and there is such a small number of foes to deal with that it is onerous to ever really feel compelled to modify up playstyles.
Platforming continues to be considerably uninspired however undoubtedly provides a extra satisfying expertise. Whereas Jack would not management as exactly as fellow style stars like Mario or Crash, a variety of his acrobatic sections are easy however gratifying to play, typically requiring some fun navigation that by no means spikes the issue to the acute. It might use just a few extra hazards and a few extra depth to maintain late-game setpieces fascinating, however for essentially the most half, it is a strong platformer.
Sadly, it typically looks like Pumpkin Jack would not aspire to be something extra than simply that. Whereas the game is a fun callback to quite a lot of esteemed classics, it continually fails to carve a distinct segment of its personal, counting on a base lineup of serviceable mechanics and a hefty load of nostalgia with little else to sweeten the deal. Few moments stand out as really attempting to push the bar, with your entire game resembling a soft stroll down reminiscence lane relatively than an creative trendy platformer.
Trying again on what made Pumpkin Jack’s influences so iconic, they had been all outlined by one thing distinctive. Jak and Daxter turned ranges into expansive open-world areas, Ratchet and Clank had its splendidly excessive weapons, and Sly Cooper had its stealth mechanics. Compared, Pumpkin Jack tends to really feel barely forgettable, bringing an endearing story and purposeful mechanics to the desk, however by no means managing to be something greater than an entertaining callback to a bygone period.
In the end, gamers’ enjoyment of Pumpkin Jack will crux on how nostalgic they’re for the 3D motion platformers of yesteryear. The makings of an ideal sport are positively right here, with witty dialogue, an exquisite number of enjoyable mini-games, and a few serviceable platforming. However, outdoors of its clear homages and lofty inspirations, Pumpkin Jack feels prefer it has nothing new to say and no trendy insights so as to add. It finally winds up a jack of all trades however a grasp of none, providing loads of concepts rife with potential however by no means honing in on one lengthy sufficient to make it stand out.