It’s Halloween time, and it’s no surprise that’s one of the most popular seasons in the gaming community. After all, Halloween is definitely the nerdiest holiday by a wide margin. Perhaps the most enduring aspect of Halloween, more so than the candy, the costumes, the innocent teenage vandalism, is the Jack-O-Lantern.
So much so that you can probably run into a carved-up pumpkin in nearly any video game you play, from Mega Man to Call of Duty. Sometimes you’ll just see them as seasonal set-dressing, but other times they’ll be a major aspect of the game, even if that only lasts for a single level.
So that’s prime material for a seasonal list piece. The introduction’s over with, so let’s look at the best videogame Jack-O-Lanterns!
The Top 5 Videogame Jack-O-Lanterns
Pyro Jack (Shin Megami Tensei)
Shin Megami Tensei’s adorable, little murder pumpkin is a staple of Halloween gaming vibes. While Pyro Jack isn’t as prolific as Jack Frost, it’s definitely the Luigi of the Jack Bros. and that means a lot for the flammable, little demon.
Jack Bros. isn’t just a lame pun either, the “Jack” demons from Shin Megami Tensei starred together in one of the better Virtual Boy titles, well before anyone in the US knew what a Shin Megami Tensei was.
So Pyro Jack has street cred, too. At some point Pyro Jack became Jack-O-Lantern, but I'm going to play the curmudgeon card here and insist Pyro Jack stays on top.
Pumpkin Jack (Um, Pumpkin Jack)
At the time of this writing we’re still looking at a review embargo, but there’s plenty of material on Pumpkin Jack out there you can check out without my critical input.
A one-man development project that evokes the likes of Banjo-Kazooie and MediEvil, Pumpkin Jack is like a long-lost PlayStation 2 game that we wish we had back then.
But it fits in pretty well in today’s gaming spaces, and Jack is a cool character, in a Ghost Rider-meets-Earthworm Jim kind of way.
Ickybod Clay (ClayFighter)
Anyone who grew up with a Super Nintendo was down with ClayFighter, at least for a little while. And a big part of that was the awesome character design, and the development team’s ridiculous conversions from claymation to 16-bit sprites.
Ickybod Clay was a personal favorite, not only because his head was a Jack-O-Lantern, but the rest of his intricate design was just cool, yo.
Pumpkin Boss (Monster Party)
Be nice to him!!!
Halloween (Tetris Battle Gaiden)
This character is basically Pyro Jack, but with Tetris powers instead of arson. Halloween is arguably one of the stronger characters in the Super Famicom’s bizarre but thrilling Tetris Battle Gaiden, with the ability to shroud your opponent’s field in darkness, blow up your own rows in a pinch, and even steal previous Crystal Orbs.
The weird bunny with a power cord for a tail might be stronger, but that's besides the point. Also, Halloween's stage theme slaps:
These are, without a doubt, the best Jack-O-Lantern characters in videogames. Nevermind the fact that the overall list is only so large, and join us in getting into the Halloween Spirit without invading closed-down storefronts with overpriced Kingdom Hearts wigs.