The player controls a character who enters the dungeon lair of the demonic Pumpkinhead to lay the creature's formerly human spirit to rest and save the nearby town. Parts of the game require interacting with full motion video sequences from the movie.
This video game provides examples of:
- All There in the Manual: The game gives absolutely no instructions in-game telling you what to do. The manual is basically the only way you'll be able to even play the game, let alone understand it.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From the manual, "you will have to contend with currents of energy, streams of lava, and an endless stream of evil adversaries, as well as throbbing background music that may remind you of your rapidly beating heart." Even more so when you actually hear the music and realize it's a blatant lie.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Equipping the beer immediately makes your in-game avatar drunk, which translates out-of-game to even worse controls and distorted graphics.
- Convection Schmonvection: The lava in The Zone of Nothingness can be easily traversed by using a fire extinguisher. None of the surrounding lava is damaging at all.
- Closest Thing We Got: This shows up in the manual of the FMV game.The tormented spirit of Pumpkinhead has been let loose to seek vengeance among the living. Unfortunately, for the poor souls of Ferren Woods, they have nothing better than you to stop them.
- Dance Party Ending: The game ends with Pumpkinhead dancing around after you give him the item meant to "quell his soul". Notably, the actor in the suit had to remove the feet in order to do so. It counts since he's the last surviving character. It's also enough to drive you to madness.
- Death by Cameo: The developers appear as the lost souls in the second level.
- Developers' Foresight:
- Sort of. Just in case you haven't seen the movie, there's an optional newspaper item you can find which gives answers to a quiz about the movie needed to clear the first level.
- Averted, however, for the second level, where you must know who gets killed by Pumpkinhead in the movie by using a voodoo doll in the appropriate cinematics. You also have to know who lives (Jenny and Jane, if you're wondering) to progress and the game provides no hints as to who those individuals are, as killing either two survivors or letting someone who is supposed to die live results in Pumpkinhead killing you and the ghost children scolding you.
- Flipping the Bird: It's possible to defeat Pumpkinhead (who is a One-Hit Kill boss) through brute force in the final stage and ignore the puzzle completely. If you manage this, instead of the normal ending you get a cinematic where he gives you the finger instead.
- Guide Dang It!: To a worse extent than even contemporary Adventure Games, a genre it borrows heavily from. The game fails to explain even basic gameplay, meaning without a guide or a manual, you're stuck wandering around in a futile search for an exit until a Xenotrope kills you. Not even the manual explains what most of the items do, and what they do is as far from self-explanatory as you can get.
- Intoxication Mechanic: Drinking the bottle of beer will cause the screen to shake and the controls to become more unresponsive.
- Joke Item: There are certain items you can take from the movie clips that serve no purpose other than to take up inventory space. While some of these items can technically be used, their effects are next to worthless. This includes the bottle of beer, which just distorts the screen, and the carton of cigarettes, which makes you take damage.
- Luck-Based Mission: The entire point of the Lair, where you must give Pumpkinhead an item. Except, this item changed from playthrough to playthrough, so if you don't have it, you've literally lost the game.
- Moon Logic Puzzle: Everything in the game follows a form of moon logic that even the developers probably didn't get half the time. The biggest offender is the fire extinguisher, which is used to cross lava.
- Mythology Gag: There are several shots in the movie where Pumpkinhead is wearing shoes, due to the actor being unable to move with the feet the monster has. Now you know why he wears shoes in the ending.
- No-Gear Level: This is a severe punishment, as Spoony found out. An optional cinematic made specifically for the game involves two side characters from the movie hauling stolen goods, ranging from a TV to a cardboard box and the newspaper mentioned above. Taking one of these stolen items (the newspaper is the only exception, but there's another cinematic you can take it from) will cause the ghost children to tell you what you just took from that scene was stolen and you have to put it back. If you choose to deny their demand three times, get lost trying to find where the portal to the clip is, or simply don't realize what you took because this game seems to think basic information is for wimps, they strip you of your entire inventory, thus, at best, putting you right back at the beginning of the game, and at worst, stranding you in the Zone of Nothingness.
- Non Standard Game Over: Most deaths bring forth a jeer of "You have failed", but the ghost children have unique quotes for certain deaths:
Ghost children: An innocent has died. You have failed.
- Failing to protect Jenny or Jane from Pumpkinhead.
Ghost children: You foolishly chose to protect the most evil mortal in Ferren Woods. You will pay with your life.
- Protecting Judge Dixon from Pumpkinhead.
Ghost children: Beware of dreams; they will fool you.
- Attempting to save Jenny from a nightmare version of Pumpkinhead whose only threat to her is wrecking her sleep pattern.
- Power Crystal: Every time you kill an enemy in the first level, you have to sit through a rail shooter sequence while clicking on blue "Tantanik Crystals" to collect them, as they are a necessary power source to access the FMV sequences.
- The Power of Rock: The game features a guitar that, when played, pushes all enemies back. It only has 6 charges though.
- Power-Up Letdown: The stopwatch item freezes all enemies ala Castlevania, but you also cannot shoot enemies, making it next to worthless for two thirds of the game. The third where it actually is useful is the Lair level, where Pumpkinhead, an Implacable Man who can't be harmed by your gun until you get to the room in the middle, is chasing you and you always want to maintain as much distance from him as possible, forcing you to adopt a run-like-hell strategy that doesn't allow for stopping to shoot enemies.
- Press X to Die: One item you can pick up is a pack of cigarettes that kills you if you use it. That's its only use.
- Schrödinger's Gun: The toy Pumpkinhead lost as a child. It's also different each time you play.
- Smoking Is Not Cool: There's a Joke Item in the first level, a pack of cigarettes, which if you try to use them will kill you.
- Unwinnable by Design: The thing Pumpkinhead demands in the Lair is different every playthrough. However, to get to the lair, you might not need that item. Didn't pick up the item you didn't know you needed? Prepare to reset and start all from the beginning...
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing the Gatekeeper also kills you.
- What the Hell, Player?: If you protect Judge Dixon from Pumpkinhead, the ghost children kill you for "foolishly [choosing] to protect the most evil mortal in Ferren Woods".
- A Winner Is You: The ending is, at least according to Spoony, conclusive proof that the developers never intended or expected anyone to beat their Moon Logic Puzzle-laden piece of crap, and instead just slapped on some B-Roll footage (showing an actor in a Pumpkinhead costume and a pair of sneakers dancing around like an idiot for about 7 seconds) as a final insult to whatever player managed to crawl through their impossible mess of a game. Even worse is the alternate ending you get for foregoing the moon logic puzzle and using brute force to beat the final boss: The guy just flips you off
- You Will Know What to Do: After you save each of the lost souls, they each hand you a toy saying they hope you know what to do with it. In the next level it turns out you need to watch a cutscene where Pumpkinhead's childhood toy is lost and you need to leave the correct toy at an altar to put his soul to rest.