Created by Clayton Kauzlaric of Total Annihilation fame, Voodoo Vince was released exclusively for the Xbox console in 2003, a glimmer in the fading fire of the 3D platformer.
Almost 14 years later, this early noughties unsung hero has been thrown into the Lazarus pit for a full revival (burlap is pretty tough, you know!)
Voodoo Vince Remastered is a game that exists primarily for the fans and those who may have missed out on the original adventure.
Voodoo Vince was a glimmer in the fading fire of the 3D platformer.
The game has been serviced with a technical overhaul, spouting modern resolutions and higher fidelity textures, whilst keeping the rest of the game exactly the same.
You play as Vince, a burlap Voodoo Doll imbued with Zombie Dust. Your owner Madam Charmaine has been kidnapped by Kosmo the Inscrutable, and you embark on a wild goose chase through an atmosphere soaked New Orleans to get her back.
Where other platforming titles may stop there and leave the gameplay basic, Voodoo Vince Remastered excels. Vince collects beads from his enemies to power up and then harms them by hurting himself.
As you progress through the game you collect Voodoo icons that give you a variety of special moves. One, for example, makes Vince drink a bunch of laxatives and drop a toilet on his head.
Where other platforming titles may leave the gameplay basic, Voodoo Vince Remastered excels.
Another has him running with scissors, another eating a hot chilli. There are a tonne of unique animations and brutal versions of this special move to discover, and it’s always satisfying to execute.
Further, the innovative genre-spin injected into each level is palpable. Voodoo Vince often takes a leaf from the Adventure game genre, asking you to find certain items to combine and solve puzzles. It requires a different kind of thinking that will surprise those who expect the game to be a bare bones platformer.
For example, one of the early levels asks you to run on a clock face to change the time and open the doors to a number of different stores. A jazz-playing skeleton wants you to jam with him, and if you can’t find a way to the jazz club to practice you won’t get past.
The innovative genre-spin injected into each level is palpable.
You find a Masquerade mask and open the ballroom for the costume competition to then receive an item that lets you open the other doors and eventually acquire a trumpet. These actions all take place within a 3D platformer. This is testament to the genius and joy still present in this game 13 years later.
Much like Psychonauts, another 3D Platforming golden boy of the same era, Voodoo Vince is tremendously charming. The writing is funny, and Vince’s dry, sarcasm-laden quips will give you the giggles. The anthropomorphized characters brought to life by the zombie dust include an egotistical crocodile scientist, a pull-string doll, and a pair of rowdy gas pumps who lob spanners at you.
The characters are also situated in environments that are ever-changing and filled with flair, and whilst some of the textures may look old, the inimitable art style keeps it appealing.
You’ll travel from the streets of the French Quarter to the depths of the Bayou, with a regal mansion and eventually a haunted carnival in between, playing host to a variety of enemies and NPC’s. This allows each zone to stand out, which is only helped by the variety latent in the gameplay.
The writing is funny, and Vince’s dry, sarcasm-laden quips will give you the giggles
From riding on rats and airboats to a house of the dead style static shooter minigame, Voodoo Vince Remastered provides you with a refreshing amount of gameplay with a surprise lurking around each corner.
It oozes passion and it’s terribly endearing that the developers gave so much time to each level to make it interesting and unlike the last. One of my favourite sequences came from a seemingly innocuous warehouse which became a rube-goldberg machine for destroying cute, fuzzy animals.
Whilst some of the checkpoints can be unforgiving, the game has a nice difficulty curve with a few small missteps. A hurricane boss requires you to execute a certain feat of acrobatics to reach the objective in time, and if you don’t know exactly what to do you could be stuck there for hours.
Voodoo Vince Remastered also has its own version of the Meat Circus from Psychonauts set in a similar carnival, with one sequence requiring you to make a number of treacherous jumps, one failure costing you a lot of time.
Whilst some of the checkpoints can be unforgiving, the game has a nice difficulty curve with a few small missteps.
The persistence to keep the game exactly as it was is admirable, but the controls can sometimes slip up, with the camera costing you a few lives in the more hectic platforming areas. Whilst you can spin and move, you can’t punch and move, and this sometimes causes grief in a battle.
Steve Kirk’s wonderful score is still here, coating each level in a gorgeous jazz blanket. Despite the association with me losing all of my lives, I even loved the spooky tones of the Voodoo shop on the main menu.
Overall, if you’re a fan of 3D platformers you cannot go wrong adding Voodoo Vince Remastered to your library. With a bold platter of genre-bending innovations and a luscious world steeped in passion, you’ll definitely have a blast with the original Sackboy.
This review copy of Voodoo Vince Remastered was provided by Beep PR. Our Editor-In-Chief Jordan Oloman spent 10 hours listening to jazz and self-flagellating in New Orleans.