Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge E3 2005 Hands-On

We take Jack Skellington for some graveyard action in the new Tim Burton film-themed game.

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We were frightened today on the final day of E3 2005; frightened in a good way. You see, we got a chance to take a brief, but spooky, ride with Jack Skellington when we had some hands-on time with the new Nightmare Before Christmas game, The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge.

The game's plot will deal with our skeletal hero's ongoing battle with his archenemy, the lord of the flies himself, Oogie Boogie. In the level we played, we controlled Jack as he made his way around a spooky graveyard, complete with a talking oak tree in the middle. Our goal for this level was to right some upended tombstones in order to unlock a door that Oogie Boogie had cruelly shuttered to hinder our progress. To do so we had to make use of Jack's in-game weapon, known as the "soul robber," a sort of magical green slime whip that Jack could use for a multitude of purposes. First of all, it's a handy weapon, one capable of doing massive whiplike damage on foes who dare get in Jack's way. For another, it's slimy, sticky aspect naturally means Jack can use it to pick up objects (and enemies), or use it as a sort of supernatural grappling hook to swing from tree branches. By slapping the soul robber against a gravestone and then rapidly tapping the triangle button on the PS2 controller, we were able to pull up the tombs to their proper position.

The grab ability of the soul robber is especially effective in combat. You can pick up your enemies, swing them around your head, bash them on the ground, or even use them as impromptu bludgeons for the other enemies on the level. We love the real sense of impact conveyed when you use smash enemies against one another and, when a larger enemy drops a weapon, such as a huge mace, you can even pick it up and use it against him. All in all, combat in the game is fun right off the bat and, with the large number of attack power-ups you earn throughout the game, looks to stay fun throughout the game.

If you think Mr. Skellington's box of tricks ends with a bit of slimy rope, however, you're sorely mistaken. This is a Nightmare after Christmas after all, and an appearance by Jack's Santa Claus alter ego should be expected. Indeed, with just a press of the trigger button, Jack can switch to his St. Nick outfit and gain a whole host of new powers and attacks--including the ability to drop and let loose a number of deadly presents that act as traps for those unlucky enough to get in their path. Some attacks freeze opponents, some attacks stun them, and all can be controlled from afar by Jack. In his Pumpkin King getup, Jack can bring the heat with a number of fire and explosion-type attacks. All in all, it's up to you to decide which version of Jack will best suit your needs as you progress through a level.

Controls have changed a bit since E3 2004--the X button is now used to inspect objects, and the circle button will have you leaping into the air to hurdle objects and avoid bad guys. Two attack styles are tied to the triangle and square buttons, and you'll be able to pull off Jack's stylish whip taunts using the directional pad.

We're looking forward to spending some more time with Oogie's Revenge to get a better feel for the overall storyline and check out some of the other Halloween Town environments. Regardless of how spooky the rest of the details are, rest assured that we'll be brave and bring them to you right away.

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