Whack ‘O’ Lantern Review

Review by Nigel Wood

Soon it will be that time again, the time to batten down the hatches, turn off the lights… or anything to show that you are not at home, so you can avoid those damn ‘trick or treaters’! Well maybe in the US it’s all sweetness and laughs. But over here in sunny old England, you are more likely to be beaten over the head by a group of hoodies, with footage of the event posted on Youtube, than you are to be greeted by an angelic face requesting candy.

I am of course talking about Halloween. And with it a slew of themed iPhone games are popping up all over the app store like a spots on a pubescent teenager. 

One of the more promising Halloween games, is Whack O Lantern by Decode Entertainment. A pumpkin headed version of the famous Whack O Mole carnival game. This charming game features some great presentation, from cleanly drawn flash style graphics, to the eery music playing in the background.

On each level you have 30 seconds to successfully hit a set percentage of Pumpkin heads by tapping on them as they appear from behind objects. Hit a Zombie and you lose a point, hit a skeleton twice and you gain a bonus. There are 3 differently themed levels; a creepy cemetery, a murky swamp and a draughty looking attic. You play through these same levels again and again, but with the speed that the characters appear growing quicker each time. Eventually it gets to a speed where, unless you are Mr Miyagi, your are going to hit the Zombies more frequently, resulting in your Pumpkin hitting percentage getting lower and lower, until eventually it’s game over. 

As mentioned earlier, it’s the presentation that make this game. For the illustration of the characters and backgrounds, Decode Entertainment turned to the Illustrator Nathan Jurevicius. Well know for his stylised characters like Scary Girl and working with a Hong Kong toy manufacture making collectible vinyl toys. The result is a light hearted and polished look and feel, that sets the halloween scene perfectly and which is only improved by the great Danny Elfman-esque music. The only downside is that both are a little sparse, with only three alternating backgrounds, three characters, and two pieces of music, one for the menu and one piece during play.

However, at only $0.99 (£0.59) it’s not breaking the bank and you do get one of the better paid Halloween themed game experiences available. With more levels promised (presumably via free update) I’d say it was worth a punt this Witching season.


Presentation & Graphics:

Simple but beautifully illustrated assets. Character art is fun and very fitting to the theme, plus how many games feature game art from a well know artist? More animation, particularly in the background would be nice. The page turn effect in the menu screens is a nice touch.

Great sound, like something you’d hear in a Tim Burton film… but the game could do with more tracks during the differently themed levels.

It’s fun pick up and play gameplay, but nothing deep. A good game for the kids if you don’t mind them getting there candy covered mitts on your iPhone.

Game life:

Only 3 main levels, but the speed ramps up and the characters seem to be randomly generated. If you’ve got good reflexes you could probably go all day. More levels coming soon. But this is really dicersion style gameplay, something to pick up and play while waiting for a bus or entertaining the kids.

Game rating:

Whack O Lantern is available now for $0.99 (£0.59) here.

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