Japanese box art
Jack Bros., known in Japan as Jack Brothers no Meiro de Hīhō! (ジャック・ブラザースの迷路でヒーホー! Jakku Burazāsu no Meiro de Hīhō?, lit. "Jack Brothers' Hee-Ho at the Labyrinth!"), is an action video game developed and published by Atlus for the Virtual Boy console in 1995. It was the first Megami Tensei game released outside Japan. The game allows players to play as one of three brothers - Jack Frost, Jack Lantern, or Jack Ripper - as they deal with the predicament of returning to the fairy realm on Halloween in time to not disappear from existence. The game uses an overhead perspective and uses a red-and-black colour scheme. The three-dimensional graphics were achieved using parallax. It received generally positive reception for its gameplay yet received some criticism for its length.
Gameplay and premise
The Jack Bros. consist of three brothers - Jack Frost, Jack Lantern, and Jack Ripper - all of whom players can control in a stage. Frost is a snowman, Lantern is a pumpkin, and the third is a skeleton. The story of the Virtual Boy game is that the brothers have taken advantage of Halloween to leave the fairy realm and play with children; they lose track of time however and must get back to the realm before midnight or they will cease to exist. Jack Bros. utilizes an overhead style similar to that of the Gauntlet series. The game is divided into six levels which consist of three or four stages each. Each level has a strict time limit which is reduced every time the player gets hit. In each of these levels players must collect multiple keys per level and has to combat enemies. At the end of the final stage of each level is a guardian that players must overcome to progress.
Jack Bros. was originally known as Devil Busters before release. It was developed and published by Atlus on September 29, 1995 in Japan and in October 1995 in North America for the Virtual Boy. Jack Bros. was the first game in the Megami Tensei series to be released in the United States. Gunpei Yokoi (the creator of the Virtual Boy) designed the console due to the public's general belief that it was too early for the next generation of systems, due to the failure of systems such as the 3DO and the Atari Jaguar. The team came up with a system that used 3D images to display conventional 2D graphics in monochrome red and black visuals. It also used parallax, an optical trick that is used to simulate a 3D effect. Following its release, Atlus struggled to bring the series outside Japan. It tried to create a Pokémon-like monster collection game starring Jack Frost and other Shin Megami Tensei monsters called DemiKids (Devil Children in Japan).
Jack Bros. has received generally positive reception. Nintendo Life's Dave Frear felt that the gameplay, music, and graphics were good, but also felt that it was too short and did not need to be on the Virtual Boy. GamesRadar's Brett Elston also felt that it was well-made yet short. He stated that it should be given new life on the Nintendo 3DS. GamesRadar's Mikel Reparaz called it one of the five best Virtual Boy games due to its quality design that kept them playing despite the Virtual Boy's eye strain. Fellow GamesRadar editor Henry Gilbert also called it one of the best Virtual Boy games and wrote that it was held back by its platform. Eurogamer's Christian Donlan called it a "fascinating Megaten spin-off". The Official Nintendo Magazine called it "an enjoyable adventure". Tips & Tricks gave the game's cartridge a rarity of six out of 10 based on a consultation with Digital Press. They noted that it was the most difficult Virtual Boy game released in the US to find. N64 Magazine's Jason Moore expressed disappointment that the game did not have any role-playing game elements. He described it as a cross between Gauntlet and Bomberman. Nintendo Power gave it a straight 3.3 out of five in four categories.
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