Retro style 2D platformers are a dime a dozen. I can’t tell you how many I’ve tried out only to discover they were trash, but I can tell you Savage Halloween is superior. You pick one of three characters and jump right into a pixelated world reminiscent of an old SEGA, or SNES console. The art direction is on point, with an aesthetic that feels so authentic it’s perfect. Whether you choose to be a vampire, werewolf, or pumpkin headed dude, the characters feel like they’ve been established in previous games (which do not exist). Unfortunately, picking a character is only surface level, a different paint job, but it ultimately doesn’t matter – you’ll be too busy enjoying the gameplay to care.
The gameplay is a gorgeous collision of platforming and run n’ gun fireworks. It’s difficult as these games are, but fair, if you die it’s completely your fault; after all, you have a large weapon selection. The weapon selection is much better than you might expect, with oddities like ghost, bat, frog, etc. launchers. All weapons have a unique effect, and there is at least one delicious shmup level to show off your weapons. There’s a lot of variety for a “straightforward” platformer.
In levels you’ll be double jumping around, avoiding fire pits, and shooting endless monsters while avoiding them. It felt like a combination of Monster Bash, Contra, and the original Duke Nukem – all games I enjoy. I wish the game wasn’t so dang difficult, but if you die (which you will) you have three continues to save you. Retro Halloween is retro – as the title implies – through and through, not even allowing the player to save a game, but relying on checkpoints; it’s infuriating but also an understandable choice considering the sit-down-on-a-couch, arcade vibe they’re evoking. It’ll remind you of a time when games didn’t hold your hand, you had to actually be good and put in the work for success.
Savage Halloween is an endearing indie title, with a charming Halloween look that never gets old, and neither does the gameplay. There’s even the option for two players, a welcome surprise. The game resurrects retro platforming, with tight controls, and a plethora of weapons for endless entertainment (until you die). It’s exactly what I want from the type of game, minus the extreme challenge, but it is not uncalled for. It’ll bring you straight back into the past, gleefully activating memories of playing games with your friends. If you’re ready to perfect your platforming skills, Savage Halloween offers a fun diversion.