All Hallows: Rise of the Pumpkin has been released just ahead of Halloween, it’s a terrific ZX Spectrum platformer and it’s FREE!
Like most platformers, you have to get from A to B, but how? That’s the rub.
As we head towards the witching time of year, the premise surrounds you, as a bouncing pumpkin, protecting the great forest kingdom from the evil Forest Lord. There are five Moonstones which are trapped within the Lord’s dark tower thanks to Ancient Sages a thousand years earlier. The magic of the Moonstones is fading and they need the touch of another magical spirit to awaken them once more.
As well as finding the Moonstones, you must also locate the three Magical Tablets of Summoning and Banishment, and then get to the gateway and escape! At this point, just surviving is enough for me 😉
The trick is in figuring out where you can jump and where you can’t, since it may LOOK like a piece of the floor, but isn’t, and you drop down to the room below. About the jumping, and balancing on the edge of a ledge will help you in order to brave a long jump.
Similarly, the bats and fire will sap a bit of your energy – marked from 1 to 100, while other baddies will kill you outright, such as the bony ol’ skeleton heads and I’d love to punch them in and smash their teeth… because they damn well hurt!
Knock a switch, a few screens in, and it opens a door elsewhere… but how to GET to that door? That’s what you have to work out, and you only have three lives each time in order to do so.
There are around 20 or so screens and I understand there IS a way through! But you have to find it. I’ve had a good crack at it and, so far, I haven’t managed it, but like a lot of great platformers, you can only play them for so long before you go “GAHHHH!!!” and have to take a bit of time away from it 😉
Yet, come back you will since, like all great ZX Spectrum games, it has that “just one more go” factor.
Some screens seem like a bit of a dead end, so that’s the intentional misdirection as I dodged my way to the top of a screen and then… there was nowhere to go, but games aren’t meant to be easy and not completed in five minutes.
Similarly, there are multi-sectioned screens in that you’ll see part of a screen that’s inaccessible, with no way of getting to it, but don’t worry, because that’ll come up later. This was part of the beauty of ZX Spectrum games back in the ’80s, like Sabre Wulf and Wanted! Monty Mole, because there wasn’t much memory inside it, so the programmers had to be creative with it.
I’d highly recommend using Zero as an emulator, and setting the ZX Spectrum computer choice to ZX Spectrum +3 as your best way of playing this, as well as switching on ULA Plus – also in the settings, so you get an enhanced colour palette, as well as the eerie music that you can hear in the gameplay within this review.
In addition, I’ve also uploaded a short video of the game being loaded in (as it’s a tape file) and the fantastic menu music.
Now, will additional lives be available as part of the DLC? Seriously, after a while, I did find my first extra life… and then just lost them all as quickly 😀
All Hallows: Rise of the Pumpkin is available now and can be downloaded for free at Rucksack Games’ website.
Zero can be downloaded here. I see they’re up to version 0.7.1 at the time of posting this, but I’m using version 0.6 and it’s fine.
- Designer and Programmer: John Blythe
- Additional Code: Andy Johns, Allan Turvey and David Saphier
- Cover Artwork: John Blythe
- Graphics: John Blythe
- Format: TAP format
- Platforms: ZX Spectrum 128k, ZX Spectrum 48k, ZX Spectrum VEGA, ULA Plus Edition
- Exclusive 128k feature: Full AY Music track with the music by: Loner, Sam Styler and Alex
- Players: single-player
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.