Thoughts on Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorite movies, and I've loved it for as long as I can remember. I'm not 100% positive if I saw it when it came out in theaters (I was only like 5 years old at the time) but I did see it in the mid-2000s when they did a 3D screening which was pretty neat. I remember that no one really talked or knew about it until around 2003 when it was the movie's 10th anniversary. Then there was all kinds of merchandise and stuff for it and suddenly it became an "in" thing. I know I definitely went a little overboard with the merch back then, but it's whatever. I like wearing stuff I'm a legitimate fan of. It was cool that it was included in Kingdom Hearts also because I'm pretty sure they didn't include "just because it's a popular thing now" (I'm sure a game like Kingdom Hearts takes quite a while to develop). You know what's funny? It's technically always been a Disney movie, originally released under "Touchstone Pictures" (which was part of Disney)... but then when it became really popular (read: profitable lol) Disney was like "oh.. y-yeah we own that!" and you can now find Nightmare Before Christmas stuff at the Disney Store and not just Hot Topic :P

Anyway, yeah, always loved the movie, so of course when a video game came out in the mid-2000s, I had to get it. Movie tie-in games are always a risk. I feel like they kind of suck for the most part, but there are also plenty of gems out there. I'd consider Oogie's Revenge a gem. I think it was originally supposed to be a PS2-exclusive because I remember being like "oh maybe I'll need to get a PS2 to play this game at some point" but it's on the OG Xbox too. The game is actually pretty great. It takes place after the movie so it's sort of like an unofficial sequel (or maybe it's supposed to be "official"... idk, it can be official if you want because I don't see them ever making another movie... which is good... I don't want them to. That ship sailed a long time ago).

The story is basically that Jack went away for a period of time to try and find new ways to scare people and make the holiday more fun, but when he returns he finds out that Oogie Boogie has been resurrected and is causing all kinds of trouble. He kidnaps the other "holiday leaders" (like how Jack is the leader of Halloween, Santa is the leader of Christmas, etc.) in order to become the "Seven Holidays King". We don't actually SEE the other leaders but that's whatever. There are 24 levels in total. Some are pretty short, some are long (and a few are WAY too long x__x).

The gameplay is pretty solid, but pretty simple (but why is that always a bad thing? I'd take that over something way too complicated). As "normal" Jack, your main weapon is the "Soul Robber" which is like this sticky hand toys you could get out of like vending machines and stuff. You know what I'm talking about. You can mash the X button to do a basic attack which can be upgraded a few times so you can get four hits in a row that get stronger. The Y button lets you grab enemies. Once you've grabbed an enemy you can either slam them into the ground or throw them at another enemy. You can also hold Y to charge up the move and once Jack says "are you ready?" you can grab an enemy and then do a whirlwhind attack which is pretty neat.

One of my favorite parts of the game is the boss battles. They're all done with rhythm matching mixed with physical attacks. In the first level you fight a "shadow" version of Oogie so you basically hit him (and any enemies he summons) with regular attacks and collect musical notes. Then when the "music meter" fills up, you go into the rhythm matching part which is cool because they take the songs from the movie and change the words around to fit the plot of the game. While some of it is kind of cringe, it's actually pretty clever for the most part.

It also has a ranking / grading system for replayability! And I love the way that this game handles it. You get graded on four categories: how long it takes you to beat the level, your highest combo, how much damage you took, and an !-count (there are a few different ways to trigger the exclamation points from enemies). S-rank is the highest, D-rank is the lowest. The great thing about this is that you don't need to get an S-rank in each category at the same time. So like if I play a level and get an S for time, a D for my combo, a B for damage, and an A for !-count, it'll record whatever the best in each rank is. Then I can go replay the level and take my time trying to get the highest combo possible, not take damage, and try and trigger exclamations. You get an overall rank for each level and you get currency based on your rank which is nice. You ALSO get a neat little figurine that you can look at in Jack's house in the hub world when you get at least an A on every category.

I'm writing this right now because it's the end of September, finally getting cool out, the start of Spooky Season, so it's always the time of year that I like to play this game. I don't replay it like EVERY year, but it's fun to break out now and then. It's definitely a very comfy game. You get to walk around various locations of Halloween Town and most of the characters from the movie are in it (most with original voices!), the redone songs are great, the background music is great. There are a few parts of the game that are kind of a pain in the ass, but it's such a small small percentage of it, it doesn't bring the game down at all. The graphics are great too, especially for a 2005 game. It definitely captures the feel of the movie. I'd love a remaster... maybe someday.

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