These are the results for The Daily Click's 2023 Halloween Game Jam. Developers had just under a month to create a freeware game in Clickteam Fusion based on the theme Play, Scream, Repeat: Replayable Halloween Boss Battle. The entries were judged by Joshtek, OMC and msg (with assistance from Robert123 whose reviews are on the game pages) who ranked and scored the games based on their merits, taking into account their gameplay, creativity and use of the theme. Thanks to everyone who took part. Whatever score you got, we appreciate you taking the time to create games for us to play that would not otherwise have existed and hope that you had fun making them.
Msg: You like Castlevania graphics? You're gonna like this! The weapon is somethig you may lose your head over. It's revolves around a very well-balanced mechanic. And you get different weapons! The music is really good and creates a good ambient. The sound design is nice as well, but those two half-life sfx throw me off a bit. One small issue - pointing up. I can't see when I do that, it is when I hold up, but it would be nicer to have it lock looking up after just pressing the button. Or animating the character to look where it shoots. It is a Halloween game, there are good boss battles. I like it. I couldn't make it work on a controller though. 8/10
OMC: Pleasing graphics, music, and sound, even on my 1080p screen! I liked that it felt like a combo of platformer and bullet hell with the boss, but there were large spans of time where I just walked back and forth chucking skulls and not doing much acrobatics. I usually reverted to the first skull for the boss, and it felt like the firing patterns got easier to dodge rather than harder. Head designs were clever and made me laugh. This is the sort of fun little game that got me into klik games way back when. Don't think diagonal shooting is worth the frustration of being unable to shoot directly up while dodging. Also, I loved the little touch of the pending damage display in the boss health bar, and that the tiles in the background were interesting but not too loud--something I have trouble doing with tiles. Good fun. 8/10
There is a lot to love about this game. It oozes creativity, from its fun sense of humour (in its name, sound effects, storyline and even how it hangs a lantern on why the antagonist is not animated) to the variety of the enemies and weapons and how they interact. The level design is fairly plain, but the variety in platform positions and methods of getting between the platform make a virtue out of the simplicity, which makes good use of the different vertical spaces for different elements of the gameplay.
The enemies and the whole premise is very Halloweeny, and it certainly has boss battles galore with its main antagonist. It does a good job of layering up the elements as you replay it, helping keep the player engaged. No individual element is overly complicated, but when it all gets added together it makes for a game which can be quite challenging at the higher levels. There's a fair bit of trial and error in learning the best strategies, with the tips shown when you die helping you master the game.
The music, chosen by the author from the back catalogue of a music group he is is part of, works very well and adds to the theme - see https://overheaven.bandcamp.com/ for Over Heaven Production. The homemade graphics and sometimes homemade sound effects also fit with the feel of the game. There is plenty of replay value, from the increasing selection of weapons to the need to continue to adapt your approach to match the game getting harder. It is good that you can resume from where you left off or replay earlier elements as it can allow for the game to be completed over multiple sessions and replayed at your chosen difficulty.
The fact that you have to fight some minions in a separate mob stage before the boss fight does go a bit away from the boss battle theme, but it serves as a useful intermission to make the boss fight more replayable, it has some useful themed creatures, and it is skippable in the rampage mode, so it ends up working out as a good complement to the boss battles which might otherwise have felt a bit repetitive or samey.
If I were to make one criticism it would be that changing weapons in the heat of battle is a bit of a pain which reduced the extent to which I made the full use of the various options. Perhaps it would have worked better if each key not just changed weapon but fired it too. However the changing of weapons could be considered part of what you have to learn to get good at, so I don't see it as a big deal.
If the author hadn't told me himself I would never have guessed this was his first platform game. His six years of developing other games really paid off to make it quite the genre debut.
In conclusion, this is a very solid and imaginative game with polished gameplay that benefits from clear attention to detail. It succeeds in realising its vision and, perhaps most importantly, I found it really fun to (re-)play. An A+ submission, I give it a 9/10.
Msg: The quintessential execution of the theme, I think. Boss fight after boss fight after boss fight. The fights are a bit tedious though, the enemies have a bit too much HP, so without cheating with turbo controller it takes ages to beat them - not that beating them isn't hard on its own. The difficulty is quite up there with the older games, no screwing around this time. Going back to the bosses - I don't know how much of the general Halloween vibes they represent, but maybe there's some legend I haven't heard of, does not matter - the river monster is now in the books. I like the shop, the upgrades are also okay, but I didn't use them as much, due to the above mentioned controller improvement . The sound design is not as good as the gameplay though, especially the shooting sound gets annoying pretty quickly, considering the amount of bullets that those enemies take. 7/10
OMC: I knew I was in for a treat as soon as the lightning logo struck. And a rad 3D render to boot?? I grinned like a fool at the backstory. And then there was suddenly an overworld? That's pretty advanced for a quick game jam! Love the graphics, love the idea of unique boss behavior designs and the little story to explain them, movement feels good. Only trouble is that I'm either very bad or it's very hard! I haven't gotten as far into beating it as I'd like yet but I am going to keep trying, and I think that is the sign of compelling game design. 7/10
Robert123: I like the gameplay, its well balanced, the steering is good, a lot of weapons and enemies. The graphics is pretty. The sound is good varies between stages. It also brings some emotion to the gameplay.
A fun start with the story that gets the most out of BigAl's trademark cartoony style, and the later cut scenes are also fun. Both the story and character names have a sense of creative fun that match the art style. It very much fulfils the bill of having halloween boss battles, and each boss manages to be reasonably unique, often with movements and attacks that theme in nicely with the monster and thus makes sense. The reward you get when you defeat the boss adds a nice reward, and gives people a reason to replay a boss fight. The controls were clear and the interface was easy to use. The use of an overworld map and shop made it easy to choose levels and to level up using a fitting old school interface.
The make downside is with the difficulty and associated need for gameplay fine tuning:
Difficulty curve. The difference one or two extra lives make is immense, and it made the difference between the supposedly easy first boss going from taking dozens of attempts to complete to being a complete breeze where I don't need to use strategy at all. I completed the ordinary boss just after having spent ages beating the first boss and in part due to the extra heart I managed to complete it on my first try. While in the later game you can repeat the easy boss to level up, for the first boss you don't have any way to get sweets to help you if you're finding it difficult.
Fairness. There was significant improvement inconsistency in terms of whether losing a life felt fair or not. When an attack was foreshadowed by the monster and could be avoided in advance it felt fair. When it was not foreshadowed but could not be avoided through quick reaction time it felt fair. When it was part of a pattern/routine that could be learned it felt unfair the first time around but had the reward when you could avoid it in the future. But when it felt unavoidable it felt unfair, like when a whole host of rocks fall on your head all at once.
Shooting controls. I found it to be too hard to play on my PlayStation controller as I couldn't spam the shoot button fast enough. It was easier on the keyboard but it was tiring having to spam the shoot button.
If those issues are addressed then this could become a great example in how to create classic fun thematic boss battles.
In terms of the theme it included some Halloween and horror staples and the candy was thematic. The battles were all boss battles. There was a reason to replay the easy battle but less reason for the others. Many of the battles were hard enough to require them to be attempted multiple times which increased the amount of replaying. There was a delete progress button to allow replay but no clear New Game Plus elements or scores, rankings or achievements to give a strong incentive to play after you've won.
The graphics were a highlight but the sound effects and music were overly familiar and so a bit distracting.
So overall there's lots of beauty, but a bit too much beast. It would be nice to see a remastered definitive version of this game released for a future Halloween that was all Jekyll and no Hyde. It is a 7/10 but has the potential to be elevated to a 8/10.
Msg: It's a tedious one. I get it, that you can't move as fast when you attack, but come on, the enemy moves faster every time it gets damaged. Long range weapons are a bit more effective, but then the second boss comes and I don't know if any weapon is good on them. They are Halloween all right, but how is a knight or a mage a part of that theme? The music is average at best. It gives the fight some seriousness, but it didn't catch on in my house. 5/10
OMC: A straightforward game, which I like. Primary issue I had was with reading the interface--I am wondering if the text was generated live from fonts and so system differences caused the layout not to work on my computer--the score table had lots of overlapping text, and the press enter to start text never went away, and the character selection looked a bit funky. I liked the smoothness of the animation and that there was plenty of room for a unique art style even in the low-res graphics. It was kind of slenderman but in a not creepy way. It felt a bit random that the wizard fireballs had such short range--which is balanced, but also unsatisfying. Still not sure how to reliably get the game to start. Mostly needs UI work, I think, but there's merit in the graphics! 6/10
The foes are pretty halloweeny, and it is good that they require different strategies. Some of the bosses do a good job of having behaviour appropriate to the boss, like the spider and its webs. I like the idea behind having multiple characters to play, as it allows for variety in gameplay and increases replayability. Having online hi-scores also increases replayability.
In terms of issues I had, there were a few: It was way too easy for your name to end up as zzzzz, not least because it wasn't always apparent when you had died; the movement felt quite slow; it here was no real clear motivation for why you were attacking the enemies or why they were attacking you; and the Press enter to start message never went away.
The game could have done with more iterations to smooth out the gameplay, but I think a fundamental problem is that if you force players to continually start again from the beginning and fight the same early bosses again and again then you need to make it really feel rewarding to fight the same pumpkin for the tenth time in a row. Perhaps the problem lays with forcing it to be a straight playthrough for the score system. If so, maybe it would have been better if there was two modes, the regular game where you have checkpoints and a champion version where you get a score. Or maybe you could have a score for each boss rather than it could be an aggregate boss. Having more separation between the bosses could also allow people to choose a class per boss and figure out which is the best for which.
6.5/10. Some good ideas that are unfortunately hampered by a rushed execution and some design decisions which don't quite mesh.
Halloween Boss Battle
Msg: Steering in this game is something else. In the beginning you use the mouse, then suddenly you select options with WASD, but when you're in the items menu you double click on the options, then you go back to avoid the obstacles with arrow keys. What?! All in all that makes it even harder not to die in the second fight, but it does not matter because the lightnings get me literally every time. Guess I suck, then. The sound is unpleasant. The overall feel is very chaotic. 4/10
OMC: Hm. I didn't really understand the premise--and what the enemy was doing to me, and what the items did, and what my goal was, weren't entirely clear. If it's just a delivery mechanism for a jump scare, that's fine! But I tried a few times and couldn't beat easy and didn't feel very compelled to continue, to be honest. 5/10
Joshtek's comments: A fair few stages. A number of jump scares. Some Halloweeny stuff. A variety of difficulty levels and trophies for replayability… But not really my cup of tea, sorry. 4.5/10
Msg: The built in steering ruins the game. I am not really sure what is going on around me, I guess plowing through the intro didn't help the matters in any way. The visuals leave a bit to be desired, I can vaguely make out what is what. I didn't get far, but I don't see much of a Halloween vibe here. Some random ghosts, looking like an afterthought, but okay. 3/10
OMC: Little hat guy is my new favorite guy and I want to play more games with little hat guy. Couldn't read the black dialog. Bad eyes, maybe? Love the classic retro feel and sound effects and music! Can't go wrong with Thriller.mid. Controls were a little confusing, as I thought both options worked out of the gate. It seemed like the green guy was a time limit of sorts, kind of like the yeti in the old-timey SkiFree. It's challenging! I felt the spike collision was a little too unforgiving. Love the precision platformer vibe though, and reminds me of games from the 90s and having to actually put some effort in. I couldn't seem to get past the wall of blocks. I tried shooting them, but never had time to try anything else before green guy became fully visible! I want a whole wiki and lore for the different types of enemies. They are delightful. 6/10
Joshtek's comments: Pros: The weather and sound effects on the opening screen were a nice start. The movement of the poltergeist was interesting and I like how it increased in visibility. While short, it at least had an opening premise. Having HP be on the character made it easier to keep track of during the game. Cons: Playing through some of the same bits again and again got a bit tiring, especially when it felt like it was due to being unfairly killed by the poltergeist. 4.5/10