We’d almost forgotten about Tim Burton’s beautifully dark, animated kook-fest. In fact, it’s been such a long time, we were thinking this would be a festive stress management sim where the wrapping paper keeps tearing and Argos stops selling batteries. But the game brought it all flooding back: unhinged characters, spookily twisted environments and a tendency for breaking out into foot-tapping song. On the surface, it’s a great use of the license.
But poke a little deeper and you’ll find something less pleasing. Capcom has created an action game in the mold of Van Helsing, or its own Devil May Cry series. Fixed camera angles, combos, A-to-B puzzling and weapon and character upgrades and all.
For a start, the combat - centered on Jack’s gooey "Soul Robber" whip and his holiday-themed costumes, such as a Santa outfit - doesn’t feel as slick as we’d like. There are plenty of moments where it just isn’t responsive enough to cope, despite the ability to dodge, or fling enemies about with your soggy whip - especially since your enemies respawn as soon as you step back into an area you’d previously cleared.
And there’s one detail that’s guaranteed to make you want to destroy people’s faces: Jack’s ‘Soul Robber’ voice sample, which blares out of his gum-free gob every... single... time... you use your weapon’s strong attack. That. Makes. Us. Mad.
To be fair to the developers, it does actually mirror the movie really rather well. It’s still got charm, in its characters and its locations and, endearingly, the encounters that see Jack decimating foes with a colorful song and dance routine. It’s also huge, and offers some quaint bonuses for those willing to perfect their performances.
You’ll need the patience of a glacier to suck out all that goodness, however, and there are plenty of other attack-heavy adventures available - Ninja Gaiden, Otogi 2, Fable - that you should concentrate on before turning your attention to this unwieldy but fairly vibrant outing.