Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Impressions

We get a look at an early version of Capcom's upcoming game that continues the story of the classic film.

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Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is the upcoming third-person action game from Capcom that aims to give you the chance to play through a sequel to the classic film. The game is being developed through a collaboration of Capcom's R&D 3 development studio and Buena Vista Interactive, with input from the movie's creative team. While we got a peek at how the game was shaping up last month, at today's press event Capcom reps gave a presentation and demoed an early playable version of the game, which gave us a much better idea of what to expect from it.

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Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is set roughly one year after the events in the classic film and finds a generous helping of trouble coming to Halloween Town. It appears that Oogie Bogie has been resurrected and is leading an assault on Halloween town with an army of skeletons. This act brings main character Jack Skellington, who had actually left Halloween Town, out of seclusion as he attempts to protect Halloween Town and Christmas Town. The game will feature roughly 10 different stages set in various locales around Halloween Town and Christmas Town.

During the presentation more-specific gameplay elements on the upcoming game were revealed, the most notable of which is Jack's use of costumes in the game. You'll find three costumes in the game in all--normal Jack, Santa Claus, and the Pumpkin King--and you can switch between them on the fly. Normal Jack is less a costume and more Jack's everyday attire. The costume's most useful element is the "rubber soul"--a green, whiplike weapon that will serve double duty. As a weapon, the soul will let Jack take on his foes by whipping them and linking together hits or by holding them tight and flinging them around. The Santa Claus outfit lets Jack toss different presents at enemies. While we only saw one present demoed--a jack-in-the-box gift that will stun enemies when it opens near them--a second present, a small snowman who temporarily freezes enemies, was also mentioned. The last outfit, the Pumpkin King, is the most offense oriented of the three available suits. You'll be able to shoot off fire blasts at most enemies, or, if you happen to be surrounded, you'll also be able to perform a powerful flame burst around Jack.

The enemies that you'll face are a mix of creatures made especially for the title and others seen in the film. In some cases enemies will require some well-timed resource management, as you'll find you have to use two costume attacks to take one out. The game will have a fairly standard objective-based structure that will require you to complete certain requirements before moving on, and it is expected to offer anywhere from eight to 20 hours of play based on your skill level.

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The graphics are still coming together, but the virtual Jack we saw moving through the different environments looked very good. Jack's animation is fluid and flexible. Once you collect the other costumes you'll be able to switch into them on the fly.

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas appears to be coming together pretty well and should please fans of the film as well as gamers looking for a new action game. The movie license appears to be fitting in to the early gameplay we've seen. Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is currently slated to ship for the PlayStation 2 on Halloween 2004. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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