XBOX REVIEW: TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS OOGIE'S REVENGE

A Halloween without Tim Burton is like a porno theater without Pee Wee.

Where do I start with Tim Burton? I don't want to dredge up the hackneyed term "genius" to describe him but he's certainly got a lot more talent than most of the so-called Hollywood "geniuses" out there. He's an artist, a visionary and a great entertainer. He directed the first of the new series of Batman movies, (the one with Michael Keaton), he helped create Pee Wee's Big Adventure. He was responsible for Edward Scissorhands and has just released his latest animated film, The Corpse Bride. Tim is literally an artist. He began his career in the entertainment industry as an animator for Disney. With all his experience and skills, it's too bad that he wasn't able to help the developers make a better videogames.

Based on Burton's animated feature, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Oogie's Revenge finds our hero, Jack Skellington, enjoying life in his hometown when he decides to take a short trip to test out a new weapon called the Soul Robber. When he returns he finds that his gal Sally has been kidnapped and the town booby trapped by his old nemesis, Oogie, who has returned to haunt him and spread his evil after being stitched together by Lock, Shock and Barrel.

Presented in the style of Tim Burton with faux, stop-motion graphics and excellent voiceovers, the only thing that fails to make this package perfect is the ordinary gameplay. Most of the gameplay is based on fetch quests with lots of backtracking and repetition. You have to go back and forth through the same locations so many times that you begin to feel claustrophobic as you see the same environments over and over. There is no sense of freedom as exploring is relegated to linear paths. The only time you'll feel like you have any kind of freedom is when you're lost, and that happens a lot since not all of the missions are readily apparent.

Much of the focus of the gameplay revolves around the Soul Robber, which really could have been thrown into any group of characters to facilitate a videogame. The gameplay fails to exploit Burton's characters and locations to their fullest. What we have here is a generic game with a classic cast. The Soul Robber wasn't even in the original movie and it's not that great of an addition to the gameplay since it's not very accurate and it's quite stiff to handle. With it you attempt to lasso enemies which you can spin around over your head and throw or slam them into walls or the ground. You can even use it like a whip and a spear. When it works it's great fun but the control system is less than perfect to make it an invaluable addition.

To mix things up a bit there are some puzzles, musical mini-games and plenty of unlockables but some of the puzzles can be solved just by going back and forth to the area in question. If you can't open a door, just go wander around and come back a few times and it will open. This doesn't work for all of them but the fact that it works for some of them tell you that something is wrong with the gameplay mechanics.

Jack is able to transform himself into various characters such as Santa Jack and Pumpkin King Jack, each with different abilities that can be used to get past certain obstacles and bosses. Santa Jack can drop presents that act like bombs with various effects that stun enemies or freeze them. Pumpkin King Jack is able to shoot fire out his mouth. It would have been a lot more fun if he could have shot fire out of somewhere else, like I do when I eat hot Mexican food.

I definitely file this game under, "lost potential." It's not bad, it's just that it should be great. I am a fan of Tim Burton and his cronies, including Danny Elfman, the composer, and I can tell you that I enjoyed this game from the standpoint of the production values. The tunes are excellent and there are plenty of songs to revel in. But this is a videogame after all and the gameplay is simply not good enough to compete with the production values. The developers were unable to match Burton's creativity. This game may have been saved if it were just a point-and-click, interactive movie. Either that or Burton's going to have to take a few years off and learn how to program games so that he can eventually produce the perfect product.

System: Xbox, PS2
Dev: Buena Vista
Pub: Production Studio 3
Release: Oct 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
2.0