Mr. Pumpkin Adventure, developed by small indie developer Cotton Game and published by CIRCLE Entertainment, is described as a point and click puzzle title about a pumpkin that has lost its memory. Previously released on computer and mobile platforms, the intriguingly bizarre title has now graced the Wii U eShop in all its glory.
The Wii U is a fitting platform of choice for Mr. Pumpkin Adventure. By making use of the GamePad's touch screen and stylus, players are tasked with helping Mr. Pumpkin reclaim his memories in order to uncover the reason behind his existence. The player must piece together any evidence of Mr. Pumpkin's memories in each scene. Comic book narration is utilised in between each chapter of the game, and there are also plenty of perplexing diary notes hiding away in each scene.
To be quite blunt, the world surrounding Mr. Pumpkin is simply odd. Along the way you'll encounter vegetable characters such a corn cob manning a cinema lobby, flying bugs that will only aid you if you feed them, and eventually you'll witness banner advertisements being burnt down by chillies.
The primary task for the player is to make sense of the chaos. This can be achieved by noting the numbers and letters littered around each scene (acting as clues) while also solving the occasional mathematical challenge, logic puzzle and even beating more traditional game challenges. Success normally provides yet another clue or a code needed to unlock a door - or possibly an object like a briefcase - containing an important item. The items that interact with multiple scenes don't always do so in the most obvious manner, either. For example an item such as a butter knife can be used to cut down a poster to reveal an important number combination behind it. In saying that, there are still many items that are used in more straightforward ways.
Each chapter of Mr. Pumpkin Adventure connects multiple scenes together, and with more than 50 scenes on offer there are plenty of puzzles that will require you to put on your thinking cap. From the beginning, the player is thrown straight in with little direction. It's basically a matter of tapping away and interacting with objects on-screen while you move from scene to scene, and eventually a 'eureka' moment will hit when a solution finally clicks. It's a slow but satisfying process when a lengthy puzzle is pieced together.
Within the point and click segments are more advanced puzzles such as tile games that require the player to rotate tiles (doubling as wires) to turn on light bulbs on an electrical grid. Other mini-games include classic platform action where you navigate a character through an environment while avoiding enemies. Once solved these challenges often provide a solution to another puzzle. The puzzles in Mr. Pumpkin Adventure become more extensive over time. There are often multiple layers to these challenges, and puzzles seamlessly interwoven that stop the player from immediately progressing to the next chapter.
When a puzzle is solved the player is presented with slick animation. The artwork in general is crisp across both the television and the GamePad, with both screens mirroring the other. Although each scene is a handcrafted drawing, there are animated elements such as smoke rising from chimneys and moving robots destroying a cityscape with their laser beams. The music fits in perfectly with the visuals and naturally draws you into the mystery while also being very thought provoking. There are moments in Mr. Pumpkin Adventure that are somewhat reminiscent of the Professor Layton series, with the extensive detective work required, and the sound and visuals are what create this feeling of familiarity.
If it all becomes too difficult, there is an in-built tip system that can be accessed at any time. The only catch is you must complete a mini-game which has a pumpkin jumping over barriers to earn the hint. This mini-game does grow mildly frustrating over time, and the tips provided can only help so much - a tip doesn't instantaneously solve the problem. This means the player must still solve it with their own actions. The reason tips may be required is primarily due to the lack of direction. There are no glowing auras around important objects or highlighted points of interest, meaning the difficulty is quite challenging at times. Fortunately there is a save file system available at any point in the game, allowing you to take a break and come back with a solution later on.
Mr. Pumpkin Adventure is a well-crafted point and click game. If you don't enjoy logic-based problem solving, point and click puzzle games or clue hunting for hours on end, this probably isn't a game for you. If you do, however, like all of this, and have played games such as Professor Layton previously, this may be one to consider. While it does have a certain formula to it that may wear thin for some over time, and it's not necessarily as polished as some other similar games, the crazy and charming nature of this title is certainly unique; it deserves a look from fans of the genre.