Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge E3 2004 Hands-On Impressions

We try out Capcom and Buena Vista Interactive's virtual sequel to the classic film.

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We had the chance to try out a work-in-progress version of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, Capcom and Buena Vista Interactive's PlayStation 2 game based on the popular film. The game is essentially a sequel to the film--it finds Jack Skellington returning to Halloweentown to restore order when the evil Oogie Boogie returns, intent on causing all sorts of trouble. The third-person action game offers an impressive virtual re-creation of the movie's locales and accessible gameplay.

The level we played opened up with a cinematic detailing Jack's return to Halloweentown as he encounters a decidedly unfriendly pack of Oogie's minions who are small on talk and big on hurting everyone's favorite skeleton. When you finally get control of Jack you'll find that the game uses a simple control scheme that's easy to pick up. You'll move Jack with the left analog stick and attack with his green, whiplike rubber sole by pressing the square button. The triangle will let you grab an enemy with the rubber sole. Once you've latched onto an enemy you can either fling them anywhere or repeatedly bash them into the ground. Either option will let you build up your combo meter, which tracks how many blows you land. The X button will let you sidestep your way out of danger and the circle button will let you inspect objects.

The shoulder buttons will let you trigger Jack's transformation into his two other costumes: Santa Claus and the Pumpkin King, each of which has its own unique attacks. The Santa Claus costume will let Jack give out presents that you can detonate and, in turn, will confuse or freeze your foes. The Pumpkin King's costume allows Jack to spit a searing blast of fire from his mouth.

The level we played was set in the town square, which is seen in the films, where we were beating up skeletons. Once the area was clear we spoke to a local and found out some information that led us to a house where we did a little investigating. In order to gain access, we used the rubber sole to latch on to part of the roof and swing Jack on top of the house. Once we were on top of the roof we were able to inspect a hole and drop in. When we were inside there were more skeletons to deal with and more investigating to be done.

The graphics in the demo are looking good--Jack and company show off a solid helping of detail and smooth animation that brings them to convincing, virtual life. The environments offer up an equally impressive re-creation of the movie's settings.

From what we've seen so far, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge is shaping up to be a solid action game. The graphics are strong and the gameplay is simple and accessible. The only weak spot in the package is the combat system, which was pretty simplistic in the work-in-progress game we played. The combo system feels as though it could use some extra moves to beef it up. Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge is currently slated to ship this year.

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