Guest review by Paul Deluce
As soon as I saw the first screenshot of Pumpkin Jack, the game Medievil sprung to mind. Pumpkin Jack himself looking like a cross between Sir Daniel Fortesque and Marvels Ghost Rider.
Loading the game presents you with a beautiful soundtrack and the usual options for audio, controls, game etc with a couple of neat additions to the options. The ability to have a stop watch for each level or the entire game is going to be a nice nod to the speed running community. The ability to have the camera automatic or not is a welcome addition to a genre that is overflowing with games that have camera issues.
There is a narrated intro telling the story of a great Arc En Ciel kingdom where the Humans are happy and safe, but the devil is bored and wants to start some of his mischief. Conjuring the curse of endless night, he unleashes the powerful spell for monsters to create havoc across the land. The humans looked to their mighty wizard for help in breaking the spell and he sets off in search of the power to break the curse. The devil, looking to even the odds, called upon his own champion in the form of wayward spirit Stingy Jack, a con artist and history’s greatest trickster. Making a deal with the devil for a journey to the afterlife, Jacks soul is pushed into a pumpkin and he begins his search for the wizard.
The game is set over 6 large levels; The Fields, The Haunted Mine, The Swamp, Skeletown, The Graveyard and The North. Being a platformer there is the usual gamut of collectibles, puzzles and end of level bosses along with an excessive need to double jump between each and every moving platform.
The levels are pretty enough, but the length of them combined with the repetition made finishing the game a bit of a slog. Each level consists of the same platforming section with some awkward jumping, some form of race and a pumpkin head puzzle. There were a couple of times I was forced to die so I could restart from a checkpoint due to an interaction not working. Zip ropes and collecting the wooden planks are two that spring to mind.
The puzzles and races are a little more varied, from riding on the back of a horse to using a mine cart. Hearing Ride of the Valkyries during one of the mine cart races was a nice touch and shows how good the soundtrack to the game is. Visually, the lighting and particle effects stand out. They brighten up the dark environments and watching the fire spreading from smashing a lantern was nice. It can become frustrating at times though as it tears through platforms you’re needing to jump on to collect another skull.
If you’re a completionist, the length of the levels makes it a tad boring searching for any missed collectables and it would’ve been better to have broken down sections on the level select. For those that are going back through the levels there’s a bug here, after a cut scene, or sub section, your weapon keeps reverting back to the weapon you earned on the level rather than the weapon you had active from the weapon select.
The combat becomes repetitive fairly quickly due to its simplicity and the available weapons fail to offer much variation either as I stuck with the scythe once I had it due to it having a longer reach. There’s definitely a chance missed here as it would’ve been great to have a levelling up system for the crow and the weapons. Forgetting its faults for a minute, Nicolas Meyssonnier has created a beautiful homage to Medievil that offers several hours of gameplay and whilst it doesn’t deliver anything new it does give a few nice twists on what could’ve easily been another generic storyline.