I’m working on a series about the games that kept me busy this year. These are my favorites, not necessarily “the best.” Also, these posts will be in no particular order. We’ll do a podcast in the near future ranking our top games of 2020.
Alright I admit it. It feels a little strange to put Pumpkin Jack next to the words “top games.” It’s not going to win any awards. It’s not going to make many top 10 lists. But I love it.
I saw a trailer for Pumpkin Jack – a silly little ode to the platformers of the N64/PS1 generation – on Nintendo’s YouTube channel and thought it might be a fun Halloween weekend playthrough.
I was pretty impressed when I heard it was made by one person, Nicolas Meyssonier (it was published by Headup Games). Then I started seeing other people talking about it, and this little underdog-gem-that-could started having a brief little moment with some YouTubers I follow. That’s when I decided to go for it.
First and foremost, Pumpkin Jack takes obvious inspiration from Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas (with a hint of Sleepy Hollow). The main character is the Mythical Pumpkin Lord (Jack Skellington is the Pumpkin King), and since he is dead, he can take off his head, but instead of reciting Shakespearean quotations, he uses his pumpkin head to complete platforming puzzles in places his full body can’t reach.
There’s also a wintry land Jack visits, and while he’s there he has to contend with a ghostly, fake Santa who attempts to wrap his holiday packages – until Jack comes along to stop him.
Even if the oodles of Tim Burton-eque charm start to wear off on you (but how could that happen?), the game is still a fun platformer. The controls can be a bit floaty at times, but the game never feels punishing.
The boss battles aren’t easy, but aren’t too tricky either, and they reward you with a new weapon to try out in the next section of the game. Having new weapons – some of which function pretty differently to others – kept the game’s simplistic combat fresh enough throughout.
It’s a 6-8 hour game so it doesn’t overstay its welcome, but there are collectibles if you find yourself willing to stick with the game even longer.
The game is also good about giving you regular checkpoints that mark solid stopping points if you end up playing the game in bite sized chunks like I did.
My other favorite games of 2020 (in no particular order):