Halloween Forever is a Halloween themed retro platformer developed and published by Imaginary Monsters, which was originally released on Steam in 2016. Recently, the perky pumpkin person platformer was brought over to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita just in time for the haunting holiday.
In Halloween Forever, you play as one of eight playable characters, with only the main character, Pumpkinman, and his Chris Kringle themed counterpart, Santa Pumpkinman, being available at the start. Pumpkinman’s weapon is candy corn he shoots out of his mouth, while Santa Pumpkinman does the same with presents. All characters can also jump and double jump, and are able to jump even when in mid air.
Enemies include skeletons, floating heads, chainsaw wielding masked men, and more, all matching the spooky theme. No enemies are too difficult to handle, and most take only a few hits, but those with longer range attacks and craftier attack patterns will hit you if you aren’t paying close enough attention. Luckily, characters have five hearts to represent their health, so they can take five hits before it’s game over. Additionally, hearts can sometimes be refilled by defeating enemies or finding hidden areas.
What I have more trouble with than the enemies are the white spikes that instantly kill you if you touch them. If these spikes are in a pit they’re easier to avoid, as long as you utilize your jumps correctly, but they can become a nuisance when they’re right in the direction you’re heading, and will cost you a life if you try to rush past them without thinking.
Each level also has a midboss and a final boss, which are manageable once you understand their pattern. If a boss happens to have the white spikes in its area, you just have to make sure to be more aware of your surroundings. Some bosses can even be defeated mid attack and can create an easter egg, for example: a particular boss faced early on can be defeated while he isn’t holding his weapon, but his weapon can still kill you after the fact, which is exactly what happened to me the first time I defeated him.
There’s no saving between levels, so after you lose all three of your lives, you have to start over from the beginning of the game. It’s irritating, but I understand that the developer wanted to get as close to the experience of an actual old school platformer as possible. Despite this, there are certain settings such as 1 HP only, 99 lives (which disables trophies), and friendly continues which can be turned on or off. As of the time of writing, friendly continues are the only feature which don’t seem to work correctly, and even when turned on will still have you start from the beginning if you get a game over.
Halloween Forever may not be the most notable retro platformer but is a short and inoffensive experience most Halloween fanatics will enjoy. It’s perfect for those who yearn for the days of NES platformers and those looking to play a Halloween themed game. I could also see it being an enjoyable time for kids who might be either too scared or too young to play horror games.