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Video Game / The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King

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The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King is a Game Boy Advance game released in 2005 by Buena Vista Games.

The game is a prequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas and, in some markets, was released around the same time as the video game sequel The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge.

Taking place years before the film, the story begins with Jack looking forward to this year's Halloween before he discovers Halloween Town overrun by bugs. It is up to him to deal with this infestation and find out who is responsible for this.


  • Ability Required to Proceed: Jack starts the game armed with only a Frog Gun that shoots Frog's Breath and will be unable to access certain areas until he obtains the Bat Boomerang, the Pumpkin Bomb and the Spicy Bottle (which enables him to become the Pumpkin King) as well as the Melting Man's gum shoes (which enable him to scale slimy surfaces) and the abilities to become liquid to enter narrow passages and hitting blocks to summon ghosts that can enable him to stretch to otherwise unreachable railings. The more the game progresses, the more Jack ends up needing his new abilities and weapons.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Some of the bosses are only vulnerable in a specific area, one example being the Mother Fly, which can only be harmed by shooting its head.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Most of the bosses are gigantic.
  • Backtracking: Some areas have to be revisited later once you obtain the weapon or ability you need to make it through.
  • Big Bad: Oogie Boogie is the main villain, as this game explains how he and Jack came to hate each other so much.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Quite a lot of the enemies and several of the bosses are enormous insects or arachnids.
  • Call-Forward: The game already states in the opening cutscene that the events of the story happened before Jack discovered Christmas, but the ending also has Oogie vow that he will get even with Jack, alluding to their fight in the movie.
  • Checkpoint: Jack can save his progress by talking to pumpkin-headed scarecrows and answering them when they ask if he wants to save.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Most of the bosses have no real strategy aside from constantly hitting them while avoiding their attacks.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Throughout the game you can destroy crates, tombstones, or sculptures to find health.
  • Easily Forgiven: Jack scolds Lock, Shock, and Barrel rather strongly for helping Oogie in his plan to take over Halloween Town even though he's depicted as more lenient towards their misbehavior in the movie.
  • Fetch Quest: There are a few in the game, such as retrieving the ingredients of the Mayor's lunch that turn out to be the different parts of the Melting Man and the Clown with the Tear-Away Face's face.
  • Giant Spider: The game's first boss is a huge purple spider.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: While not mandatory to beat the game, Jack can explore every nook and cranny there is to explore in order to find the belongings of the citizens of Halloween Town.
  • Headless Horseman: Jack encounters three of these in the Graveyard, using the needed ingredients for the Mayor's lunch as heads.
  • Level-Up Fill-Up: Every time you collect one of the shrunken heads that increases Jack's total amount of health, his health instantly fills up.
  • Mini-Boss: The three pumpkin roots that shoot thorns and keep Corpse Kid possessed by a giant pumpkin in the first journey through the Pumpkin Patch, the ingredients of the Mayor's lunch that turn out to be the body parts of the Melting Man that assume skeletal bodies and ride on horses while attacking Jack with swords during the revisiting of the Graveyard, and the bug nibbling on Dr. Finklestein's security panel when Finklestein's lab is revisited. They all take a lot more hits to kill than any regular enemy in the game, but the boss theme does not play during the battles against them. In addition, they do not get introductory cutscenes and defeating them does not trigger the post-boss fight victory cutscene.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game gets increasingly more difficult as you progress, with some enemies and obstacles being rather tricky to kill or avoid.
  • Origins Episode: The game establishes Jack's first encounter with Oogie Boogie as well as his first meeting with Sally. It also explains Oogie Boogie's origin: he was the king of a forgotten holiday called Bug Day who sought to conquer Halloween Town to make into a replacement holiday.
  • Power Up Motif: An instrumental version of "What's This?" plays whenever Jack uses the Spicy Bottle to become the Pumpkin King.
  • Prequel: This is a video game adaptation of The Nightmare Before Christmas that takes place before the movie's events.
  • Sequential Boss: One of the bosses is a pillbug boss that becomes gigantic during the second phase of the battle.
  • Super Mode: The Spicy Bottle weapon allows Jack to become the Pumpkin King. While in this state, Jack can fly, is immune to damage, and can deal damage to enemies and fire blocks by merely touching them.
  • Technicolor Fire: The second boss is a giant snake that can exhale purple fire as one of its attacks.
  • Time-Limit Boss: The pillbug boss that Jack encounters when revisiting the Pumpkin Patch is a downplayed example. While it doesn't have a time limit, it is faced when Jack has to complete the Timed Mission of delivering the exploding mushroom to the Tall Witch and therefore must be beaten quickly while there is still time to get to the Tall Witch.
  • Timed Mission: Occurs when Jack is given an exploding mushroom by the Small Witch and has to get it to the Tall Witch in 600 seconds.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The game is ordinarily a side-scrolling platformer, but there are some occasions that require controlling Zero in order to advance the game further. During those events, the game shifts to a third-person perspective and the objective is to move Zero so that he dodges obstacles while flying his way to the outside of the location Jack is currently trapped in.
  • Unlockable Content: Jack can collect four pieces of concept art and by completing three different chapters of the game, he can also unlock three mini-games.
  • We Will Meet Again: The game's final cutscene has Oogie swear revenge against Jack.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: When the player first encounters Oogie Boogie, it looks like the game will end after one final boss fight, right? Wrong! After that battle, Oogie retreats and Jack must progress further for the real final battle.