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!