5 Cent Reviews – Halloween Forever

One of my blog post ideas that I came up with during the first several months writing here on WordPress was selecting a random indie game and write up my impressions of the game after playing. My last post of this type was all the way back in March when I tried out the attack chopper indie shooter – Preventive Strike. I wasn’t too impressed with the game, but I did come up with a working title for my ‘series’ as it can indicate either the price paid for said game OR the amount my own opinions are likely worth. Rather than searching through the vastness of the Nintendo Switch eShop or Steam, this time around I came across today’s title from the itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. I purchased the 1,500+ game bundle earlier this summer and still have hundreds of games that I haven’t checked out. I came across a retro platformer/action game titled Halloween Forever and created by Poppy Works. We’re already coming into mid-September and a spooky, Halloween-themed game sounded like a fun time. I honestly didn’t have my expectations set very high, making this all the more pleasant of a suprise as I really had a lot of fun playing this game.

Halloween Forever is a wonderful retro-styled platformer inspired very much by Ghosts ‘n Goblins with a bit of Super Mario Bros. You play as Pumpkin Man – a pumpkin that has been raised by the NecroKing and taken on a humanoid form. Your moveset is pretty basic as you run and jump over obstacles and attack the wicked spirits in your way, such as snakes or chainsaw maniacs, by spewing candy corn from their jack-o-lantern mouth. I noted how closely the gameplay and general aesthetic resemble Ghost ‘n Goblins, it had been made pretty obvious within moments of playing the game, though without the god-awful slowdown issues that haunted Capcom’s notoriously difficult series.

The controls, while very basic, perform remarkably well; there’s no slippery movements and the jumping feels good and precise, similar to Super Mario Bros. It’s a very basic approach to the 8-bit action-platformer, but it performs quite well. The candy corn which Pumpkin Man shoots from their mouth also bears a resemblance to the axe in Ghosts ‘n Goblins in that it has a fairly limited range and curved trajectory, making for a greater challenge as you have to account for the candy corn’s drop range when attacking enemies. There’s also just a slight bit of knockback when Pumpkin Man takes damage, but nowhere near distance you are pushed backwards after being hit by an enemy in older NES games like Castlevania or Ninja Gaiden.

Halloween Forever isn’t an easy game, but it’s far more forgiving than the series that so clearly inspired it. You are given five lives to make your way through five levels and upon losing a life you begin either at the very beginning of the level or in case of defeating the mid-boss in a level, you will start from the following room. Pumpkin Man can also take five hits before losing a life, whereas taking two hits in Ghosts ‘n Goblins will send you back to the very beginning of the level. There’s also a surprising amount of accessibility options in the game pertaining to things like checkpoints or the amount of lives given – 99 lives mode.

There’s a cool chiptune soundtrack that works perfectly well in a retro-styled game such as this. I came across the song used in a release trailer for the game yesterday – Halloween Forever by Boo Dudes. I really found myself liking the song, as it comes off like a mix of Blue Öyster Cult and Alice Cooper. Here’s the Bandcamp link for anyone wishing to take a listen. Enjoy!


All in all I really, really enjoyed Halloween Forever, it features a spooky setting and enemies directly inspired by 8-bit NES games of the 80’s and performs really well as a platformer. The game is pretty brief as it only contains five levels and the entire thing can be completed in less than 40 minutes, but there’s a number of additional character costumes to discover as well as 6 hidden runes which, if collected, will reveal the game’s hidden ending. There isn’t really anything to Halloween Forever that we haven’t seen before; it’s an action-platformer heavily inspired by 8-bit NES games of the 80’s, but manages to play as well, if not better than many of its inspirations. I’m having a difficult time coming up with anything that I DIDN’T like about Halloween Forever…

Halloween Forever is currently available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Playstation 4, and Vita.

Thanks for reading!

5 Cent Reviews – Preventive Strike

For this week’s post I decided it would be fun to take a quick scroll through the Switch eShop download a random game and write a little about it. I have done this several times before with games like the retro-inspired beat em up Coffee Crisis or the survival horror throwback Back in 1995 which was deliberately styled after 90’s horror games like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, tank controls and all. In only a minute of browsing, I came across the title Preventive Strike, which immediately brought to mind the “Strike” series of games by Electronic Arts back in the 90s that were fairly popular…at least I remember them being successful enough( Desert Strike, Jungle Strike, Soviet Strike, etc.). The gameplay consisted of controlling an attack helicopter in a top-down shooter view, blasting enemy troops and outposts as you evade the oncoming enemy fire. I also still enjoy old-school “bullet hell” games like Raiden or Ikaruga, so Preventive Strike looked intriguing enough, especially given the current sale price of 5 cents(possible red flag ignored?).

I only started the game before thinking how familiar the black/orange title arrangement looked before realizing it was a near identical ripoff of The Division, the Tom Clancy loot-shooter. Even the font used displaying TocanaDev’s Preventive Strike looks eerily similar to the way dozen’s of games indicate the famous author as the source of inspiration. After selecting Play from the title screen you are shown the game only contains four different levels, each sounding like something ripped from a Tom Clancy novel – Border Cleanout, Neutral Grounds, Enemy Territory and Root of the Attack. As I am just starting the game I can only select the initial stage – Border Cleanout.

The game spares no time in giving you control of an attack helicopter as you dodge enemy fire while trying to quickly familiarize yourself with the control layout. I was somewhat surprised to find there is nothing in the options menu to even view the layout of the controls, the only options are to restart, quit, or adjust the sound fx and background music levels. The controls are about as basic as you could expect, you hold the right trigger button to fire from the mounted machine guns of the chopper and the Y button fires homing(somewhat) missiles; the A button also activates a temporary shield. After failing the mission my first attempt, I decided to spam the Y button and fire off as many missiles and the barrage of enemies and missiles headed your direction. I only got another 90 seconds or so further in the level before realizing that there is a limited number of missiles that I had overlooked on the button left of my screen. A display shows your current health level, missiles, shield, and super missiles(which took me another five or so attempts to figure out), all of which have a limited number of uses until you can fly over another pickup icon glowing on the ground below you. You will also come across a number of score multipliers over the course of the level, though frustratingly enough, many of them will be located on the edge of the screen which seem to be near impossible to pick up. The fact you will risk taking further damage to hover to the edge of the screen for a pickup only to NOT be able to is rather annoying.

The game for the most part plays…mostly well, there were quite a few instances in which the hit-detection didn’t seem very accurate with some shots flying well overhead of stationary targets but others hitting the intended gun turret or tank. This combined with the swarm of enemies firing in your direction with not only bullets, but they also possess homing missiles that take full advantage of the fact your chopper is not equipped with any evasive maneuvers. Making your way through a barrage of enemy projectiles while returning fire is the very staple of top-down bullet-hell games like Raiden or even rail shooters like Sin and Punishment, but in contrast to Preventive Strike there exists a degree of precision. Shooters such as the aforementioned titles are rarely, if ever easy, but still fair. A difficult game can be enjoyed in spite of its learning curve, whereas other games are made difficult due to fighting imprecise mechanics alongside hordes of enemies.

All things considered, I don’t want to sound like I am simply writing this to rip on a game costs $1.99 at full price. I simply meant to use this as a game I know absolutely nothing about and write up a summary of my thoughts. I don’t necessarily find Preventative Strike as a game I would recommend to someone looking for a good top-down shooter or a fan of the old Jungle Strike or Desert Strike games. The game felt to me personally as more the type of game one would download on their phone if they are commuting to work or school and have some time to kill. For any fans of the genre looking for recommendations on their Nintendo Switch, I’ve been hearing pretty good things about the shoot em up collection Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha which released recently for the Switch. Here’s a great review of the collection from over at the Well Red Mage. (Side Note: make sure to check out Well Red Mage’s Mario Multiverse collaboration on Mario Day – March 10th. I’m excited to have the chance to contribute to something cool like this.)

That’s really all I have for now, if nothing else I think I may have found a title for reviews of blind eShop pickups in the future. 5 Cent Reviews seems perfectly in line with the level of quality those who read my blog posts have become accustomed to…thanks for reading!