Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge

A definite treat for fans of the movie.


The Lowdown

Pros: Capcom has done an amazing job of recreating the world and atmosphere of the movie.

Cons: The actual gameplay is a copy off other Capcom games.

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Eleven years after the initial movie release the Nightmare Before Christmas gets a video game starring Jack Skellington. After Kingdom Hearts came out with a Halloweentown world fans of the movie have been waiting for a full out video game. Capcom quickly snatched up the rights for the game and have been working on this project for over a year now. The result is a solid capturing of the movie, even if Capcom reuses gameplay mechanics from its other flagship titles.

The story takes place after the events in the movie, where our hero Jack wanders off for another adventure. He returns back to Halloweentown to find that things aren't as he left them. The town is in peril from a group of skeletons that aren't the ones that just hang in the closet. This new breed of creatures bite and fight back. Worst of all Oogie Boogie has returned. Those troublemakers Lock, Shock and Barrel put him back together so Oogie can take over the town. It's up to Jack to set things straight and return Halloweentown to normal. Capcom didn't put their best writers forward in writing the script because the plot is just a poor excuse to reuse all of the film's original characters.

In the movie Jack didn't fight too much, so Capcom had to give Jack an all new weapon. At the start of the game Jack is presented with the Soul Rubber from Dr. Finkelstein. Jack can hit whip enemies and do a spin attack to hit a couple of monsters at the same time. Jack also has the ability to pick up some monsters with the triangle button. After he picks them up he can swing them around or smash them to the ground. The Soul Rubber also gives Jack the ability to swing from places, kind of like Jacque's whip in Onimusha 3. Beating enemies has them drop pumpkin souls, which can be used to purchase upgrades for Jack. You can increase the number of hits of the whip or time with Jack's other costumes. You'll want to get pumpkin souls as quickly as possible and the easiest way of doing this is making sure you have a high combo. The higher the combo, the more souls that enemies drop. Later on in the game you'll be able to change Jack into the Pumpkin King where Jack can breathe fire. My favorite costume is Santa Jack. In this costume Jack gains the ability to drop presents that can attack enemies.

Jack is a pretty nimble character, almost as nimble as everyone's favorite demon hunter, Dante. He can do flips, sidesteps and even a triple axel spin. When Jack moves around he takes huge steps and spins around like he's the star of a Broadway routine. You can make Jack dance around ghosts, spiders and even Oogie Boogie with ease. Actually, you'll have to make Jack dance around because he moves way too slowly to dodge attacks. The only way you can evade a flying bone to the head is to jump out of the way. Capcom gives Jack a chance to show his dance moves and his singing ability during boss fights. You can whack a boss with the Soul Rubber enough times to defeat them. Although, you'll see from the first fight with Oogie it is much more effective and fun to collect the colored notes that fly around on screen. Collecting notes fills up Jack's song meter and after its full the game switches to a full out song routine. In the first battle Jack will start singing to Oogie. While he's singing you'll need to press the buttons as they appear in the center of the screen. Doing this will build up Jack's attack and after he's done showing off he'll give a hit for a massive amount of damage. The boss fights are sure to impress any gamer because they are oozing with the spirit of the movie.

Besides the difference in the boss fights, The Nightmare Before Christmas plays a lot like the first Devil May Cry. The game limits where you can move around initial by having a bunch of locked doors. As you progress through the games linear missions (ala Devil May Cry) you'll be able to access more and more of the world. Jack also two costume transformation abilities that are similar to how Dante can transform into a devil. In fact you can even go to the length to say that Jack moves around and handles a lot like Dante does. Everything that you do in the Nightmare Before Christmas you've done in another game. Is The Nightmare Before Christmas essentially a clone of Devil May Cry? Pretty much, but there is something that separates the two games.

Capcom has put a tremendous amount of work into recreating Tim Burton's world into a PS2 game. The town looks just like it does in the movie, with the exception that you can move around in it. You have the traditional center fountain oozing with green slime, the ghoulish town hall and even the spider doorbell. When you actually get a chance to walk around and explore the world you'll get to see a lot of familiar locations like the graveyard and the mountain that stretches down as Jack walks over it. Capcom also made sure to stick to a gray, washed out color scheme throughout the whole game that looks excellent. You'll get a chance to interact with a bunch of characters from the series in the game. Most notably are the mayor, the tree with the hanging men, Sally and of course Zero. Although, the translation into 3D wasn't as great as it could be. Plaguing the visuals are a bunch of jagged edges. Also while the original cast from the film look great, the new enemies just don't have the same visual flare. Some of the hulking ogre skeletons and green ghosts look out of place and are in the game as an afterthought.

To stick with the movies source material Capcom has enlisted the help of Danny Elfman to provide the soundtrack for the game. You'll hear a bunch of songs featured in the movie, most notably "This is Hallloween". The only problem with the use of "This is Halloween" is that is played during every battle. By the time you're half way through the game you'll be sick of it. The game also has bunch of brand new songs also in musical form. The new songs blend in seamlessly with the already great movie soundtrack. The icing on the cake is that all of this is presented in crystal clear Dolby Pro Logic 2.

Tim Burton's: The Nightmare Before Christmas isn't another lackluster movie game. It does have recycled gameplay, but at least its quality recycled gameplay. If you boil it down it is a mix of Onimusha 3 and Devil May Cry. Fortunately, Capcom mimicked good games rather than pick gameplay based off Chaos Legion. The game does suffer from some camera problems, that aren't seen in other action games. A static camera just doesn't cut it. If we could have a rotating camera in other action titles, we should have on in The Nightmare Before Christmas. There is also a fair amount of slowdown in the game, that can be seen really early on. It's these problems and the fact that the game doesn't do anything new that prevent it from achieving the must-buy-classic status. Even though, The Nightmare Before Christmas still deserves your attention because its a good action title with excellent atmosphere.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 2

The game has all English voices and some English menus. If you listen carefully to what everyone says you should be able to complete the game ignoring the Japanese hints.

US Bound?

Instead of a Halloween release Capcom plans to release Tim Burton's: Nightmare Before Christmas in March.

Overall

The Nightmare Before Christmas isn't going to score points on original gameplay, but it makes up for it with an excellent translation of the movie.