Dusting itself off to bridge a 14-year long gap, Voodoo Vince: Remastered arrival on Xbox One and Windows PC will be a pleasing sight to many owners of the original Xbox console. Created by the now Creative Director at Microsoft – Clayton Kauzlaric, Voodoo Vince first released in 2003 and followed the exploits of an odd looking voodoo doll suddenly brought to life when magic voodoo dust is accidentally spilt over it while the store it resides in is robbed by clumsy criminals, and the doll’s owner kidnapped.
Full of magic, character, charisma and with a clear goal in mind, the raggedy doll sets about tracking down its kidnapped owner to release her from the clutches of the villainous enemy of this entire piece – Kosmo the Inscrutable. Travelling to and from diverse 3D realms via mysterious portals in the world, Voodoo Vince is an adventurous puzzle-platformer that many will remember, but is it worth the coat of gloss, or should Vince have been left on the shelf we first found him 14 years ago?
Voodoo Vince Remastered: Xbox One [Reviewed], Windows 10 PC
Developer: Beep Games
Publisher: Beep Games
Release Date: 18 April 2017
Price: £12.49 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Voodoo Vince captures all that there is to love about 3D puzzle platformers. Like Banjo-Kazooie and more recently, Yooka-Laylee, this somewhat short adventure bubbles and flows with imagination and personality; reeling the player in with its early frolics and foot-tapping Jazz sounds as the now full of life doll comes to terms with its ability to speak freely and move about wherever it pleases.
With the voice of his owner Madam Charmaine telepathically guiding him to her captives location, Vince takes to the trumpet playing mean streets of New Orleans to locate and recover his distraught owner from Kosmo the Inscrutable and his band of bumbling idiots, who somehow manage to create this whole mess during a bungled robbery/kidnapping. Moments after springing to life Vince leaves the dusty shelf of the shop behind and begins to familiarise himself with this stylised New Orleans setting as players quickly learn of the characters basic functions, which mainly boil down to running, jumping, floating along with 3 forms of attack: Spin, punch and head pound.
While each serves its own purpose, Vince’s spin attack proves to be so devastatingly effective in ridding areas of large swarms of enemies that it almost renders all other attacks in the character’s repertoire pointless in the games early goings. Eliminating enemies not only feels fun, it prompts them to drop colourful balls that, when collected, not only restore Vince’s health bar but charge up his unique powers.
As a voodoo doll, Vince is able to withstand a decent amount of pain, and it’s through that very ability to absorb pain that a large sum of Voodoo Vince‘s chuckle-some gameplay comes about.
The clearest and most effective way to describe Vince’s “Voodoo Powers” would be to liken them to the type of pain endured by Wile E. Coyote as a large black anvil pancakes the deviant from above when attempting to catch the as always elusive Roadrunner. Though not quite exactly the same, the sheer comedy that ensues from those iconic scenes between the pair shares an eerily similar feeling to that of watching Vince dish out his own form of voodoo justice.
Unlike the lovable short Warner Bros cartoons of the late forties though, Vince must first hurt himself to hurt others, setting off a ripple effect that will eventually replicate the exact same agony to any minion in close vicinity. A nest of vicious bees fall on Vince’s head that will have enemies duly feeling the sting, a beaker of acid poured over the player character will melt those around him and a mob car arriving with gangsters to fill our protagonist full of lead are just a few of the entertaining ways this doll can hurt his enemies; activating the many diverse methods of attack are immensely satisfying to perform and provide an enjoyable assortment of death scenes to watch.
Away from crushing enemies with a large swinging wrecking ball as the annoying voice of Miley Cyrus rings in your ear, Voodoo Vince will have players solving a collection of puzzles to proceed further into the game.
Vince’s colourful personality really flows here as the character sarcastically responds to NPC’s armed with bright ideas and a shopping list of items to be retrieved before they can make their ludicrous creations that may or may not have anything to do with your progression.
Although these moments add further charm, most puzzles are undemanding. Puzzles that prevent Vince’s progression to new areas prove to be more of a simple annoyance than taxing brain teasers that will leave the player stumped for lengthy periods.
For example: Retrieving and placing an apple beside a horse statue will inexplicably force the mule to punt the doll to the perfect height so that he can adjust the time of a clocktower to open previously closed shops, further on, ghosts in a spooky graveyard require Vince’s assistance in helping them return to their graves by keeping enemies from touching an urn. A fair bulk of the puzzles on offer fail to present much of a challenge, with locating and placing of objects prominent throughout, it’s a very simplistic affair, to say the least.
While its puzzles lack, Voodoo Vince‘s world is full of imagination, a setting fitting of its very theme. With its roots firmly set in the southern state of Louisiana, its many levels encompass all of the fixtures that make New Orleans and its surrounding regions such a popular area and tourist hotspot.
Travel through the game and you’ll come across a town square where Vince meets with a jazz playing skeleton who longs to jam with the little doll; the nightlife is full of activities as a jazz clubs bounces with sound, a burlesque house leaves Vince smothered in lipstick and bizarre costume parties see the little character dress up to attend.
Later on, the game branches out into large swamplands where you’ll control a hovercraft through the alligator-filled everglades to assist a giant cook who’ll require a few nutty ingredients to add to a large boiling pot of gumbo before venturing on to a carnival where the pint-sized doll can partake in the many games on offer.
Its very setting and soundtrack helped to set Voodoo Vince apart from its competitors in 2003, it remains every bit an exciting setting 14 years on.
Rather sadly, you’ll find no new content with Voodoo Vince: Remastered. There are no new levels to work through, bosses to take down or thrown in added extras to enjoy, only improved visuals and because of that, the game can be completed in a very short space of time.
For a 14-year-old game, Voodoo Vince looks incredibly well, running flawlessly at a smooth 60fps. and while some remastered games struggle with graphical fidelity, Voodoo Vince nails it perfectly. Its twisted Tim Burton-like world looks as imaginatively artistic and playful as it did back in 2003. Full of identity, it hardly looks out of place considering the decade and a half that’s passed since its original release.
While it sadly adds nothing by way of new levels, bosses or extras, its visual improvements are noticeable, welcome and pleasing on the eye. With a fantastic soundtrack and imaginative art style, Voodoo Vince exudes charm and likeability and despite not reaching the recognised heights of Banjo Kazooie or Mario following its original release, Vince’s platforming adventures throughout a twisted New Orleans are definitely worth reliving for nostalgia’s sake at the very least.