Every year on Halloween morning, the portal to the World of Fairies opens, allowing a pathway to form between their world and ours. This year, the mischievous Jack Brothers have decided to set off on an adventure in our world. They will have to pass through the portal again by midnight ... or be banished from their world forever.
The thrill of their adventure takes their mind off the clock, and before they know it, the 11 o'clock hour is upon them. As they start to race through the long pathway to their home, Pixie the Fairy appears and offers to show them a shortcut to the World of Fairies. The shortcut is dangerous and seldom used, but if they used their regular route, they will not make it back in time. The Jack Brothers have no choice but to follow Pixie and choose their battles wisely. They can only hope that it's not too late....
The entire story is laid out in a fun anime intro. Time may be of the essence here, but you should be glad to learn that there's finally a game with a reasonable auto pause, being only every 30 minutes.
This game consists of six electrifying 3-D areas, each with many different floors to explore and conquer within the allowed time. Here you have to battle hoards of loathsome enemies with the Jack Brothers named: Frost, Lantern (pumpkin-head), Skelton (the infamous jack the ripper), and with Pixie by their side or in battle.
You must collect all of the keys in each area to continue on. Look at the radar to see where they (and the exits) are. Once you have collected all of the keys on one floor, the doors will all open at once and you will be able to jump off to the lower floor. Continue down to the lowest floor and defeat the boss to move on to the next area. Be very careful though. Enemies and traps await you in every part along the way. Each time you suffer damage from an enemy or trap's attack, your remaining time will decrease by many seconds depending on how hard a hit you took.
Luckily you can also pick up more time either by finding Time Clocks in the levels. Other power-up items are of course the Special Attack Stars, Invincibility Potion that will allow you to remain invincible for about 10 seconds while moving really fast and lastly the Jack Shield which is made up of several bubbles that surround and protect your character for up to three hits.
Controls are the rather simple, you move your characters around with the left directional control pad and shoot with A or B, but mastering how to use the right directional control pad skillfully is the key to success. With this control pad, you can shoot or stab enemies from behind or sideways without changing your direction! And you can press the R Button to use your Special Attacks!! Each character has their own special attack: Jack Frost: Using snowballs as a weapon, his special attack will freeze all enemies on screen for a few seconds; Jack Latern: Using fireballs as a weapon, his special attack will cause enemies to suffer severe damage; Jack Skelton: Using a sharp knife as a weapon, his special attack will destroy all enemies on the screen; Pixie: Using her magic as a weapon, her special attack will destroy all enemies on the screen with love.
The game can be saved by means of a password given after each completed area, the passwords as well as other codes can be entered at the startup menu. Aside from the fast paced music & game play, the game gets it's Arcade feel from the classic Game Over "Continue?" screen, where you in this case, have unlimited retries as long as you press start before the counter reaches zero.
Talking about music, you'll get to hear exciting in-game music that forces you into the game more and more, usually the same tune all through one floor, but never bothersome. Sound effects are really slim, just a bam and a pam here and there, I guess that goes well with the Arcade theme.
Visuals are crisp, and smooth animations of all the characters give a 3-D rendered feel to them. Although the maze-like levels have a 2-D layout, with the exception of the jumping down (an warping up) 3-D effect it's more a 2.5-D game, because of the 2-D game play in a 3-D animated environment.
The game can probably be finished in a few hours, but with a fourth character on top of the three Jacks and an extra harder mode, you'll come back plenty after you finished the game, long lasting fun is guaranteed.
In short Jack Bros. has loads of enemies as you're introduced to a new one on almost every floor. You will need very fast reflexes to pull it all off. Throw some fast thinking in with the ever more engrossing levels as you progress, and you got a game that exceeds by far the simplicity you see at first glance.
I know it's difficult to get, but as a rare collectors game it sure does prove to be a great quality game. "Kids to adults animated violence" isn't the tag of this game for nothing. Most will love to play this game. Did I mention it was great fun game to play?