The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge is Disney’s Devil May Cry
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge is a video game which acts as a sequel to the classic movie, with a handful of the original cast reprising their iconic roles. Developed by Capcom, it’s essentially Devil May Cry in a The Nightmare Before Christmas skin — how cool is that?! Considering it’s a game which is based on my all-time favourite movie, you know I was eager to get my hands on this gem — and it didn’t disappoint.
Jack Skellington, once again, is feeling down about Halloween, but instead of stealing a different holiday, he begins to work with the citizens of Halloween Town to make the holiday more terrifying than ever. Lock, Shock and Barrel, however, revive Oogie Boogie, who begins his plot to take over all of the holidays and get revenge on The Pumpkin King with the skeleton grin — and honestly, he does a pretty good job in doing so before Jack’s able to retaliate.
It’s a fun sequel which doesn’t tarnish the original movie, and ultimately it doesn’t add too much to it, either, which is fine. It gives us more of that fantastical world and respects the source material, but it isn’t necessary playing for a fan who isn’t into video games. There’s a high chance that many fans of the movie haven’t played this game, but I am hoping that maybe we’ll see a remaster or another return of the game someday.
The music was top notch too, featuring fresh takes on several familiar tunes. It feels like a celebration of the movie and its legacy, and allowed Jack’s voice-actor, Chris Sarandon, to show off his singing chops — Danny Elfman provided the singing vocals in the movie. We have Ken Page as Oogie Boogie, and Paul Reubens as Lock, and it was a nostalgia trip for little me who was obsessed with the Pumpkin King. Used to be? I still am! You might be able to recognise me from my rockin’ The Nightmare Before Christmas backpack and Vans.
Uniquely, the boss battles feature rhythm game sections, bringing back the familiar notes of the movie. Backup dancers, spotlights, and some eye-catching choreography take center stage, as you press buttons in time with the music. There’s something about the thrill of the fight being interrupted by one of these songs that had me replaying them time and time again — it ramps up the emotion of the battle, seeing Jack putting his all into what he believes in.
So, on to the comparison to Devil May Cry. It sounds ludicrous, but hear me out. Jack is able to switch between three different forms — as you know him in his original pinstripe suit, Santa Jack, and the Pumpkin King. Each form comes with different attacks, with Santa Jack throwing sneaky gifts, and Pumpkin King utilising flame, but it’s normal Jack that’s the most surprising.
You see that green slime attached to his arm? That’s The Soul Robber, and it’s a whip-like weapon with range and speed, and allows Jack to grab and throw enemies around. As you can see above, it can transform into other objects such as a hand or a spiked ball. Of course, having different weapons and forms to begin with is very Devil May Cry, and hey, Dante’s been known to dance!
Oogie’s Revenge predates Devil May Cry 4, but it’s clear that Capcom learnt from their time with the PS2 game, in the same way that Oogie’s Revenge’s combat was inspired by Devil May Cry entries that preceded it. Nero’s Devil Bringer operates similarly to The Soul Robber, which was immediately noticeable when Devil May Cry 4 came out — I’d spent a lot of my time, uh, soul robbing.
The grabbing with the giant hand, smashing enemies around before throwing them back to other enemies — it’s all so familiar. Jack moves with the deftness and acrobatic ability of both Dante and Nero, and I’m half expecting him to show up in one of the duos Hell-traversing journeys.
Outside of standard combat, where you’re encouraged to rack up high points with combos, with terms such as “spine tingling” and “pumpkin king” indicating how well you’re doing, there’s also a results screen at the end of each level, judging you on your efforts. There’s the familiar Capcom way of interacting with objects and environments for brief, fun lines of dialogue. There are even secret chapters rewarding those more adventurous players! Everything about it screams influence from Devil May Cry, and I love it.
Even as a child, this Disney-Capcom team-up surprised me, but it quickly became one of Disney’s best licensed video games. The love and care that went into it was evident, and the team working on it must have been rather passionate about the movie. I feel it’s unlikely we’ll see this game fully remade, but I would love a remaster or port for Oogie’s Revenge to be released on the current generation of platforms.
Disney working with external developers isn’t new, with Oogie’s Revenge with Capcom, Kingdom Hearts and Marvel’s Avengers with Square Enix, Marvel’s Spider-Man with Sony, and various Star Wars games with EA being among their notable examples, so it’s exciting to wonder who Disney may work with next, and what licenses will be involved. I hope another The Nightmare Before Christmas game is in the talks somewhere!