In an unexpected turn of events, 3D platformers are making a come back this year. Heading up the charge was Yooka-Laylee, the Kickstarter success story from Playtonic, but with many more pretenders on the horizon, perhaps it's time to step back in time and take another look one not so well known original.
Exclusive to the original Xbox console, Voodoo Vince didn't get much love when it was first released back in 2003, despite being critically well received. Now remastered for Xbox One, developers Beep Games hope to catch the revival wave and bring in some new fans. But does the gameplay stand the test of time?
Here's what I liked:
Voodoo – The game's setting is probably it's biggest draw. The story begins as Madam Charmaine is kidnapped during a robbery of her Voodoo Store. In the struggle, the robbers accidentally release the powers of Zombie Dust, bringing to life a Voodoo Doll named Vince. As the game is set in the heart of New Orleans, we're treated to plenty of Voodoo magic, Cajun culture, and some snazzy jazz music to keep you company as you travel through swamps, cemeteries and spooky streets. I'll be honest, it's not graphically amazing, but the design is fun and colorful and certainly memorable.
Vince – A 3D platformer is nothing without its colorful mascot. Recently brought to life, Vince is Madam Charmaine's third best Voodoo doll. Laid back and sarcastic, he's extremely likable and oozing with charm. Of course, wise cracking can only get you so far, but luckily Vince is also hard as nails with three main attacks to hand: punch, spin and an aerial slam move. Fallen enemies will drop beads which you can collect to power up your Voodoo meter allowing Vince to sacrifice himself to destroy large groups of attackers. These special moves can be collected throughout the game world and become more extravagant as the game goes on with Vince cutting himself up with chainsaws, bear traps and even a lawn mower.
Here's what I didn't like:
Evil Eye – The biggest enemy you will need to counter is the game's camera, which insists on pointing at the top of your head instead of anywhere useful. Most of the enemies you meet pose nothing more than a minor nuisance and most can be easily avoided altogether. However, the forced camera angle prevents you being able to see anything more than a foot around you so things can sneak up behind or you might accidentally bump a bomb just because you couldn't see it. You can move the camera to an extent, but it immediately snaps back to the original view within seconds making it a constant battle to see where you're going.
Sleeping Spell – The platforming is fairly simplistic, probably because the horrific camera would make anything more complex an absolute nightmare. Unfortunately, this makes the majority of the game kinda boring. Certainly, the collectibles and puzzles are somewhat interesting, but most of the actual gameplay involves running round a curved map and jumping over small gaps, and any deaths are mainly because you couldn't see properly or because the game is being cheap.
Freakin annoying – Whilst the platforming is fairly easy, the game is filled with some annoying and overly difficult novelty sections. The room for error is marginal, and you have to be pretty much perfect to complete each of these levels. The numerous boss levels are also not a major challenge; however, they're also extremely tedious usually requiring you to complete some task too many times before the game moves on. This type of gameplay put me off 3D platforming back in the late 90s, early 00s but despite being a remastered game, nothing much has changed in this department. The checkpoints aren't kind either, and if you run out of lives, Vince is sent back to the main menu. You can collect extra lives throughout the game, but the checkpoints aren't much better than redoing the whole level anyway, so why bother. You wouldn't mind replaying levels if they were actually enjoyable, but it got to the point where I was only able to play the game for short periods of time before needing to switch to another game to blow off some steam. And here I was thinking games were meant to be fun.
Dull and dated and more cheap than challenging, it's difficult to recommend Voodoo Vince Remastered to anyone other than diehard Voodoo Vince fans. To be fair, I found no bugs or performances issues, and while Vince himself is a likable character, the tired gameplay when compared to more modern, similarly priced platformers, just doesn't make the grade in 2017.
Score: Limited Appeal
Voodoo Vince Remastered was developed by Beep Games Inc and published on Xbox One by Microsoft Game Studios. It was released April 18, 2017, for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.