Halloween is filled with throwbacks to our fave pop culture references. The general theme is always about the afterlife, that great unknown. But thanks to mass marketing and childlike exuberance, Halloween has become more than a season. It is now an aesthetic. Like Cottage-Core or Dark Academia, Halloween is built on vibes and feelings, many of which we are holding on to from our childhood. Now imagine you could have that feeling forever… But first, start with making it Halloween Forever on Day 8 of 31 Days of Halloween Games.
What Is Halloween Forever?
This is your classic 2D platformer, complete with pixelated art in the most simple of color palettes. Just like the candy you collect from your neighbors, Halloween Forever is short and sweet and plenty of fun. Don’t go in expecting any substance. It is meant to be a silly game to celebrate Halloween! The game was released in 2014 but designed to capture all the nostalgia of the late 1980s. Nailed it!
The story begins with an evil sorcerer plunging the world into a never-ending season of Halloween. Initially, most of us are fine with this and our pumpkin spice lattes. However, after a while, you realize it’s a little too creepy. It doesn’t help that you are also a Pumpkin Man: a big fat juicy orange head with the awesome blue denim overalls. And you projectile vomit candy corn. It is now your destiny to find the evil sorcerer and return the world to… wait, do we have to? Can we skip all of that and stay in Halloween Forever? No? *sigh*
Being an old-school action platformer, Halloween Forever is very much like an arcade game. Your major moves are double-jump and projectile assault (that’s the candy corn I mentioned earlier). The moves respond very well, allowing just enough space to not be solely dependent on timing and perfect coordination. There are plenty of enemies to fight, including spiders, skeletons, and a few grim reapers—they ARE kind of adorable.
There is a reasonable variety of levels across five different locations, each with its own bosses to battle. Take a chance and explore the extra corner for hidden treats like bonus lives. You can also unlock additional characters who come with their own special attacks.
When it comes to boss battles, they are pretty stock-standard for classic platformers. You will need to manage your timing but if you watch the initial attack, it’s relatively easy to pick up. Younger kids may need a little help while older kids and adults will enjoy the outright ridiculousness of it all. A bit like Halloween, really.
The Downside to Halloween
It’s important to note this is a single play-through event. If you lose all of your lives, you will respawn at the very beginning of the game. If this is an issue, check out the options menu for the toggle to give more lives (99, if you need them) and more checkpoints. This is honestly a fantastic feature to allow kids of all ages to play at their own personal ability. Still doesn’t change the lack of save points so you will want to monitor how long your kids are sitting on the game. A single playthrough can be about half an hour while a full 100% completion could take up to two hours. Or you can just point out how real the struggle was back in the 1980s.
Speaking of the 1980s, I love my retro games and I love a bit of retro music but there are better ways to incorporate the two. Unfortunately, I found the music in parts of Halloween Forever to be a bit grating; especially if you have been caught out on a particular difficulty multiple times. And when you are playing a game without save points, the music will start to linger like the smell of rotting pumpkins. Retro gaming music can be done well (such as Undertale), but it needs a little finesse. You can do ’80s music without having to drag the ’80s kicking and screaming the whole way.
Will We Save Halloween Forever?
For a short game, there is a surprising amount of replay value here. There are plenty of hidden tracks and passageways, encouraging the completionist in me to revisit again and again. Unlocking the new characters is also a great incentive. I have been told there is a secret alternate ending but I am yet to achieve that. Guess what I’ll be doing this month?
Halloween Forever is a fun game for a good laugh during the Halloween season. Halloween has evolved into silliness and laughter, and this game captures it perfectly.
Halloween Forever is currently available on Nintendo Switch, Steam, itch.io, and PS4. No compensation was received for this review.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 half-chewed candy corn