Pumpkin Jack: Spoopy Platforms

Everyone loves platformers, I mean come on we have the long-running Super Mario games, the Ori series, Sonic the Hedgehog, and even Crash Bandicoot! However, what everyone needs to turn their heads to is Pumpkin Jack. No, this is not a spiritual successor to MediEvil, but a standalone game developed by one person who is Nicolas Meyssonnier. This game is an adorably spooky 3D platformer that allows you to play as nonother than Jack, a soul that was summoned into the skin of a pumpkin. You get to fight creepy monsters and ghouls alike, all the while unleashing chaos upon the humans of the world. The game brings some strategy, puzzles, fantastic music, and a unique art style taken from the PS2 era. This game was surprisingly a fantastic experience with an adorable story that I quite honestly could not get enough of.

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Pumpkin Jack had some pretty decent gameplay. I would have liked to see a little more to the platforming, for aside from obviously having to climb and jump across various platforms with some monsters placed in various locations and some barricades, there was not much to it. It was fairly easy to get where you needed to go, aside from the fact that the controls were insanely sensitive. The slight tap of the thumbstick could very well send you over the edge and leave you feeling very frustrated. However, that being said what really spiced the adventure up would be the puzzles and the joy rides. The puzzles were simple but extremely fun to take part in. They were good for testing your reflexes with physics or putting your memory on the spot, and they provided rooms with fun riddles. Failing to complete these puzzles prevented you from progressing further. The joy rides just added intense experiences such as riding the ferry in an all-around stressful experience or using the mining cart on a crazy roller coaster ride through town. So while the platforming could be better, the puzzles and transportation definitely found a way to spice things up.

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Slaying some monsters with Pumpkin Jack left you feeling like a true mythical terror, providing you with a fun selection of weapons after slaying each boss. You start off with a shovel, giving you a true Halloween horror movie feeling. However, with each level, you end up getting weapons like a pump-action shotgun to blast holes into your enemies and a cool orb that is known as the Murder of Crows allowing you to cast cool sorceries. My only complaint is I would have liked to see a little more to the combat. Obviously, with a game like this, I don’t expect anything intricate, for platformers don’t call for cool combos. But I think this game could have provided more than just a single button attack that you could create an AOE out of. Maybe one more ability assigned to an unused button would have provided a more satisfying experience.

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The last thing I want to bring up is the insanely cute and enjoyable story that made this game. This adventure takes place in the Boredom Kingdom, where the humans and animals lived at peace with no wars or fear. Because of the lack of drama in the world, the Devil found himself so bored that he unleashed a powerful curse known as the Curse of the Eternal Night which awakened the scariest monsters to torment all of humanity. However, the humans counter reacted by summoning a powerful master wizard to end this curse, which resulted in the Devil summoning Pumpkin Jack to destroy the wizard. Along the way you find great allies to aid your journey, such as a crow that assists you in battle, an architect that you assist in releasing the deadly sins, and of course the Owl that leads you on your journey to the end. You also find yourself not knowing who to trust along the way, for what might seem like an ally sometimes ends up turning against you for their own gain. For a solo developer, I have to say the amount of personality in each character despite how brief the game was, was extremely impressive and well designed. I loved the story premise, and the adventure felt so wholesome yet chaotic at the same time.

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Pumpkin Jack is a hidden gem that I cannot push enough to players looking for a fun, short platforming adventure to experience. I honestly was not expecting much from this game going into it, but it ended up surprising me in more ways than one. This game brought on so many feelings with the art style, the music, and the incredibly Nightmare Before Christmas-like feeling. It is in my opinion that this developer has a bright future ahead of him from the incredible amount of work put into this game.

DVS Score-7/10

Rigid Force Redux Xbox One review: another shmup for your collection

Know what series I miss? R-Type. Since its introduction in the late ’80s, Irem has continued to pump out quality sequels in this series, supposedly wrapping up with R-Type Final on the PlayStation 2 years ago. But since then, it’s continued to live on to some extent, thanks to the awesome remake of R-Type Dimensions and the in-production sequel of R-Type Final 2.

In the meantime, however, Headup Games and the devs at Com8com1 have created a spiritual successor that fans should love, even though it’s not entirely the same experience. Rigid Force Redux channels that fun, manic R-Type energy, but into a game that players of all ages and skillsets can enjoy. It’ll definitely hold you over as you wait for the next great shmup to arrive – and its $17.99 price point makes it more affordable than most.

Time To Save the Galaxy, Again

Two years after the game’s initial debut on Steam (as Rigid Force Alpha), the game has arrived in its final form on consoles and is better than ever. It’s got the typical storyline, as you venture out into a galaxy filled with trouble, tasked with saving it. But the way it tells this story is actually quite good, with stylish sequences and voice acting that lend some character to the overall package. You can skip past them if you wish, but the dev really went a good route here.

That’s a crapton of firepower.

It’s obviously the shooting that matters here tho; and Redux delivers it in spades. It’s a lot of fun to play, with a design akin to the newer R-Type games, featuring 3D visuals paired with 2D gameplay. It’s a formula that really works, especially when it comes to the intense boss encounters against all sorts of freakish aliens.

You’ll want to take in the tutorial if you can because the control system is rather neat once you learn what all it can do. This includes utilizing a firing system to its maximum intent, using some for shielding, and shifting your bullets where they’re needed the most. It’s R-Type-ish, but with its own creative approach. 

In addition, you can also suck up energy gems to activate a special supercharged blast that can help you during the aforementioned boss fights. You can also use a Radiant Silvergun-style energy sword in case some enemies get a little too close. You’ll have to keep everything properly balanced, but it’s a real surprise how well it all comes together.

A Great Presentation, But the Length’s a Little Short

Com8com1 nails what makes a good presentation with Redux. The 3D visuals look dazzling on both the Xbox One X and the Nintendo Switch, even in portable form; and the explosive action doesn’t let up that often. What’s more, the power-ups are colorful and really pack a punch; and some of the later boss battles show great creativity.

All the visuals are nicely backed by a great soundtrack, performed by the team at Dreamtime. They really know how to put together a terrific set of “shmup tunes,” as it were, and you can hear the results throughout. Coupled with the great voice acting and effects, it’s a classic shooter experience.

It’s not Tattooine, but there’s still a lot of trouble in this sand.

Alas, the ride comes to a close all too soon, as Redux runs a little short on levels. There’s only six in all, which means you can pretty much beat this game in one sitting. All that’s left is trying to tackle it at a faster pace, as well as taking on extra modes like Boss Rush. But I would’ve liked this adventure to continue a little bit longer. Maybe that’s something we could ask for in a potential sequel.

It’s Just Our Type

If you’re a “shmup” fan or, better yet, someone who’s been aching to get some side-scrolling shoot-em-up action going along the lines of R-Type Dimensions, then you’ll love what Rigid Force Redux brings your way. It’s exciting to play, with innovative gameplay that tips its hat to the past and a presentation that can’t be beaten. It’s also got surprisingly big production value, despite being a second-tier title to the classic R-Type series. The ride ends all too soon, and there’s very little in replay value outside of bonus modes, but we suppose that’s just a reflection of shooters from the past. Don’t forget. With games like these, it’s more about the journey rather than the destination. And this is a great journey.

RATING: 8/10

Rigid Force Redux packs a punch as a full-on tribute to R-Type, complete with innovative gameplay and presentation.