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Atlus presents us a fun game By DocAetzn

Once a year, on Halloween, the gate between our land and that of the fairies opens. All fairies must get back to fairieland by 11:00 pm, though; otherwise, they will be banished forever. Among the fairies are also the 3 Jack Bros. One of the brothers likes it so much on Earth, however, that during all the Halloween fun, he loses track of time. The good fairie, Pixie, helps our character by showing him a shortcut to his home. On this adventurous path, there are, of course, also a few tasks to master.

So dry and simple is the story of this game. At the beginning, you have to choose one of the three Jack Bros. as your character. Each one has his own attributes and weapons and special attacks. Initially, you can use the latter 3 times, but you can also replenish these by collecting items – more on that later.

There’s Jack Frost, who throws snowballs as a weapon, and as a special attack, he can freeze his enemies. Mr. Frost has average mobility and a weak attack, but in exchange, he has very good rapid fire.

Jack Lantern can shoot fireballs. His special attack takes away some of the energy of every enemy on the screen. He has average mobility, an average attack, and good rapid fire.

Jack Skelton (Jap. version: Jack Ripper) has a knife for his defense. With his special attack, he can kill every enemy on the screen. Since he “only” has a knife, his rapid fire is weak, but to compensate for this, he has the strongest special attack in his repertoire and good mobility.

Having decided on a game character for yourself, your way back to the world of fairies leads through 6 Levels, which are divided into separate planes. At key points, Pixie is at your side with help and advice. The main goal is to pick up all keys on each plane of a level, in order to reach the next lower plane. The keys and the exit are always displayed on your radar. If you succeed in fighting all the way down to the bottom of a level, you will meet an Area Boss.

The gameplay is seen from a 3/4 bird’s-eye view. Both your character and his environment are very large and clear, making them easy to see. Of course, along the way, many different enemies will hinder you from successfully returning to your home. At the beginning, you only have to deal with stupid skulls that are done with one shot. Later on, you encounter bomb laying characters and indestructible giant snakes, which can only be moved out of the way. The main challenge with Jack Bros. is the time factor. At the beginning of each level, you have a certain time limit. When you are touched by an enemy, you lose time. How much depends on the enemy and difficulty. However, you can also often find a time bonus, which is also urgently needed, because if you run out of time, you must begin again at the very beginning of the level in which you went kaput. As another bonus, you can collect items like invincibility and double speed and, of course, also special attacks, since you initially only have 3 of these at your disposal, as already mentioned. You must also reckon with traps, so there are, for example, fire spitting skulls, nails that come out of the floor, and walls that will squish you to death if you aren’t fast enough.

The music turned out very well. It motivates you at any time and is always adapted to the respective level. Truly one of the best VB soundtracks ever.

It remains to be noted as a criticism that the game time should probably be no more than two hours for experienced gamers. Moreover, it’s really irritating, starting a level from the very beginning after each “Game Over.” Especially in the higher levels, it makes it hard to keep playing.

Atlus presents us a fun game. The level design, story and sound are all very well done. It’s a shame, though, the short game time. Once you’ve played through the game once, it doesn’t necessarily motivate you to play it again. But nevertheless, it’s worth buying.

7 / 10

Rated: Jul 12, 2003 • 13:05