Published By: Headup Games
Developed By: Nicolas Meyssonnier
Genre: Action, Platformer, 3D
Rated: T for Team (Fantasy Violence, Language)
Release Date: October 23, 2020
eShop: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty
November 15, 2020 – Being a huge fan of Halloween, every year I’m always looking for a unique entertainment experience to keep me entertained. Sometimes its movies, sometimes its television shows; in the case of 2020, I turned to videogames and decided to play Pumpkin Jack. Being stuck indoors, unable to hang out and party with friend and family, I needed to fill a crazy void I didn’t know was there until this year was thrusted upon us. Thankfully, Pumpkin Jack was able to fill that void and keep me thoroughly entertained for days on end.
First and foremost, I got to hand it to Nicolas Meyssonnier, a one-man developer who was able to put together this entertaining experience. Through a partnership with publisher Headup Games, was able to bring this experience to a multitude of platforms. If you are like me, Pumpkin Jack will give you vibes of other action 3D platformers like Jersey Devil, Jak & Daxter and MediEvil, which dominated the early years of PlayStation. Taking place in the uneventful kingdom of Arc En Ciel; not be confused with the game of similar name TOMARUNNER VS L’Arc en Ciel, the Devil decides to have a little fun and conjures up a curse that would plunge the kingdom into despair. To combat this, the King puts his all-powerful wizard to work in order to defend the kingdom from hordes of monsters and ghouls. Not being outdone, the Devil one ups the King by unleashing his own champion to combat the Wizard: Pumpkin Jack.
While Jack is the most epic bad-ass you could find; even he needs a little help along the way. He will come across several characters that will aid his cause or through a monkey wrench into the mix. There’s a cheeky crow; when not running his mouth, will offer up hints and tips to you which will make your journey a little smoother. You will also come across a mummy merchant who won’t hesitate to rob you of all your hard-earned crow skulls by selling you various cosmetic skins he recently took off his fellow deceased. Then there is the Ghost Witch, Architect and the Wizard himself that will cross paths with Pumpkin Jack. Each character; big or small, has a unique personality and presence that keeps your interactions fresh and intriguing.
When not chatting it up or doing a little window shopping, the gameplay within Pumpkin Jack is a mix between platforming and combat; and a side of mini-games. This trifecta of gameplay allows the game to stay fresh; nothing really overstaying its welcome. This goes hand-and-hand with the layout of the stages being open-linear; allowing you to explore every knock and cranny, while also allowing you to straight-shoot the level if you want a more streamlined experience. While you will experience a bit of repetition with some of the levels, it’s never enough to take away from the overall experience.
When you do partake in combat, you find the experience on the simplistic side, however thoroughly engaging. The hordes of undead didn’t watch an episode of the Walking Dead as they will attack friend and foe, so as Jack you will find yourself laughing at the onscreen mayhem while also attacking enemies you thought would be allies. Defeating each level and its respective boss, you will be awarded a new tool of destruction; including the likes of a cursed sword, a shotgun and even a shovel. Each will come with its own unique attacks and animations. When you pair these weapons with basic abilities like the double jump, you soon realize the variety in attacks you can levy on your enemies.
From a visual standpoint, Pumpkin Jack is simplistic by nature, which isn’t a bad thing. This game in no way is going to tax the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch, but at the same time the art direction appeases the strengths of the platform. While the games environments lean heavily on the color palette of orange, purple and green; the use of said colors allowed for a tasteful presentation befitting of the Halloween theme. Some of the levels tend to be a bit bare which adds to the atmosphere of the experience and spooky nature of the game’s themes. With the game docked, you get the best visual presentation for the game. For those who prefer to play in portable mode, the game visuals are still solid, but you will notice a lower level of quality.
For a debut title, Pumpkin Jack is a success. Developer Nicolas Meyssonnier should commend himself for having the fortitude to see this project through to completion. From the get go you get vibes of MedEvil and Jak & Daxter; considering that two of Sony’s hallmark franchises, you knew you were in for an entertaining experience. From the whimsical nature of the characters, to the simplistic and entertaining combat within the game, Pumpkin Jack is an thrill ride from beginning to end.
Review Copy Provided by Publisher