Growing up in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, there were some truly terrifying children’s TV shows, most of which have stayed embedded in my adult mind. Rhubarb and Custard, Chocky, Ludwig, Trapdoor… I could go on and on, but my therapist won’t let me. Mr. Pumpkin Adventure has a tone and visual animations that remind me of those times. Further influences in the animation sequences remind me of the famous Monty Python cartoons and the scary world of The Yellow Submarine film. But as a game, does it work?
Mr. Pumpkin Adventure has been out on the mobile market since 2016 and then it arrived on the Wii U. It was designed to make the most of a touch screen interface, and on the mobile version it hit home with a pay as you play system in order to solve the hardest of the puzzles. The game is a point and click adventure game, that mixes crazy surreal animation techniques and hard mind bending puzzles. You play as Mr. Pumpkin, a kind of civil servant office worker who wakes up in his house without his memories, and has to go on a crazy journey that will turn his world upside down.
The game plays like an old-fashioned point and click game. You have a static shot of a room or area, and you can click on and collect items or combine them with others in order to progress further. There are a few strange characters and monsters to interact with, who will inform you about what they need in order to do you a favour. For example, there is an octopus type cinema usher who will let you into the cinema if you get them popcorn, but you have to do a number of tasks to get that popcorn. It’s basic gaming stuff…you know the drill.
Then there are the puzzles.
Now these can, at times, be rock hard. You’re either the kind of person who can devour these puzzles in their sleep, or you’re the kind of person who will be looking up walkthroughs as quickly as you can say “Help me, my mind is going to explode”. There are mathematical conundrums, code breaking conundrums, logic conundrums and all sorts of conundrums of conundrums that you could possibly imagine.
When you first start playing, you might imagine Mr. Pumpkin Adventure is for kids, at least if you judge it by the style of the artwork and nature of the game. But the puzzles are so hard that if your kid is able to complete them, I wouldn’t hesitate to enrol them for the advance physics course at Oxford straight away. These puzzles are taxing enough and when you complete one, you feel great and ready to take on the world. When you’re stuck however, it feels like the world is going to end and a quick death will be more fun.
Mr. Pumpkin Adventure will take you just a few hours to complete depending on how good you are at completing the puzzles. It might be quicker if you’re a genius at it. You can however see why this game really works on the mobile market, because it’s an ideal title to ponder with while travelling on the bus.
The story is quite good fun and bonkers as hell, with surreal characters and weird frightening encounters. There is quite obviously a love of film from the Chinese developers, with quotes from Bladerunner and references to King Kong and 2001 A Space Odyssey dotted around. The game even massively evokes The Matrix films with a reality questioning ending and references to Mr. Pumpkin’s whole existence. There are secret areas to discover and a whole new hidden level to play if you find the right paths through. There are achievements aplenty if you are that way inclined and the whole game is fun, even for a short while.
Visually, Mr. Pumpkin Adventure is, as I said before, a mix of batty graphics and animated mayhem. The world is a colourful, surreal dream that looks great and can be a lot of pleasure to play. Some might be put off by the nature of the design, but you can tell by the screenshots if this isn’t your bag. The sound is good with a solid soundtrack and effects.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with the wacky heart found in this small game. It’s a great puzzler, even though some of them can be near impossible to work out. I like the way it sticks to a tone and a style that is unusual, and whilst there is no tutorial, and at times you will find yourself lost at what to do, all you need to do is step away, make a cup of tea, have a moment and then come back to it.
That always works for me at least and for under $4 it is priced perfectly for a game this size. Go give it a punt.