Beep industries
Microsoft
Platform/Action
1
09.24.03

Voodoo Vince


Microsoft's latest effort at a platformer pay's off big and stomps all over previous attempts like Blinx and Munch's Oddysee. You play as Voodoo Vince, a 10-inch little Voodoo doll with magical powers. But don't let that fool you, Vince can more then hold his own in this game. At first glance I thought this game was for kids and would never hold the attention of a serious gamer like me, but after playing through the first 10 minutes and "giving it a chance", I'm very glad I did. I usually don't buy into storylines, but Voodoo Vince actually makes you believe that you are playing an important role.

Why do you play as a voodoo doll? Glad you asked. Your owner, Madame Charmaine, gets kidnapped right at the beginning of the game by some thugs led by the evil Kosmo who is after her "special zombie dust". As they take her and the zombie dust, some of it spills on you and brings you to life, along with being spread around the world filling it with evil monsters. Madame Charmaine contacts you via a telepathic link that stays active throughout the game. She needs you to rescue her and clean-up/kill the evil monsters while engaging in many different boss battles. The game successfully balances platform gameplay, puzzle solving, fun mini-games and comedy to bring together a "smirk-on-your-face" gaming experience.

Graphics

The graphics are hard to compare to any other game because it has a unique feel to it with a crisp clear flavor of "cartoon style" you would expect. Reality was distorted by all the zombie dust, so the buildings are all angled and jagged and can loosely be compared to the style of the PS2 game, "The Grinch" except clearer. The environment is very well done and does wonders to enhance the gameplay experience. The cut-scenes are a mixed bag, some are amazingly done by incorporating the environment, but others fall short. For example when I saw the cut-scene where Vince met the Skeleton before entering the Graveyard, I sighed with "Give me a Break", but the game redeemed itself once again with a comical music puzzle played like a xylophone except with bones. I would rate boss fights above average on the graphics due to the sheer creativity in the minds of the programmers. They knew exactly what to focus on to make the game visually appealing. In one of the boss fight's you climb up a metal catwalk that gets damaged as you fight the boss, and run around in circles. The catwalk looks very real and it's very clear where you can and cannot jump as you run for your life. Frame rate is also impressively held constant no matter what is happening on the screen. There are times where the action gets pretty intense, and the more experienced gamers would expect slow down, but there was none to speak of here.

Sound

The 5.1 Dolby Digital sound is simply amazing as it combines truly funny anecdotes with awesome background music that gets you hooked. Remember the days when you couldn't get a song out of your head after playing a game? Well, Voodoo Vince will do that for you. Only a small majority of songs are simply just "average" vs. the numerous "spectacular" Jazzy/Cajun feel of the music in the rest of the game. What really stands out is the comedy. To paraphrase, Vince will say something like this before one of the boss fights: "Oh no, not another gratuitous Boss battle, is it going to be a giant chicken this time?" The opening theme of the game prepares you for what you are in store for, and Vince's sarcasm and witty sense of humor will make you chuckle. Voice acting is perfectly casted for Vince and Madame Charmaine, "She…really…has…you…believing…that…she…is…a…Voodoo…Madame". Game developers take note: a good soundtrack with meaningful vocals is essential to the game play experience, and Voodoo Vince delivers.

Gameplay

For the most important part of a game (gameplay), Voodoo Vince comes shining through, with solid controls, cool special moves that grow throughout the game, and combination puzzle-strategy boss fights that will require every ounce of your skill.

Vince can jump, double jump, punch, spin and headfirst dive, and those are just for his basic moves. This allows you to hurt some enemies, and can confuse the more less-imaginative players especially during boss battles. Remember, you are a voodoo doll, and the way to hurt others is to hurt yourself. What I mean by that is, your not always necessarily going to be aiming and attacking the boss directly. This is accomplished by activating your special move or by figuring out other ways to hurt yourself, like headfirst diving into some spikes. Each level contains Extra Lives, Power Skull's, Voodoo Dust and Scroll Pages, all of which you must collect to make Vince more powerful. Voodoo Vince's arsenal of special attacks include poking your eye with a needle, running with scissors and nuclear explosions. These all help in quickly dispatching groups of enemies with a funny animation to boot. You start with one and gain up to 25 special attacks. A little frustrating was the fact that I couldn't choose the special attack I wanted to use. Once my special attack meter was filled and activated, the game decided which attack for me to use.

So you've played the first couple levels and boss fights and think you have it all figured out? Wrong. This game surprises you at every turn with unique level design, mini-games, and amazing boss battles. Eventually Vince gets the ability to do an Indiana Jones style whip and swing maneuver that is used throughout the later levels. This, combined with Vince's natural ability to hover slowly when falling, make for a change in pace from land to air. Even with all the jumping around and mixed in combat (fighting and jumping), the controls are very responsive and respond perfectly for the situation. A few times you will miss jumps, but that's because the game makes you work for every possible second of air-time. It's not meant to drive you to the point of frustration, but rather a good way to show off your skills. Towards the end of the game there is a level that requires long sequences of jumping where if you fall once you have to start all over, but finishing this gives you a great sense of accomplishment of what you pulled off with little Vince.

Replay

Once you've finished the game, you would only want to replay it if you are missing some Power Skull's or some of the many other objects that are scattered throughout the levels. My main motivation for replay was the Mini-Games. Voodoo Vince has a cool system that can take you to any level via train, and to almost any point in the game. From timed hovercraft runs, to flying a plane, sliding down a long clothes line, to underwater adventures you'll be replaying them just for the sheer fun of it. Unfortunately, there is no bonus for completing the game or replaying it, and there are no levels of difficulty. Replay of this game would be limited.

Bottom Line:

Voodoo Vince is an amazing unique platform game that exceeds expectations. Its solid gameplay is challenging, but like I said before, not to the point of frustration. The combination of various mini-games, unique level design, puzzle solving, operating vehicles on land, sea and air, cool soundtrack with comedy that's actually funny, and fun boss battles will ensure that you have fun right off the bat. I recommend renting if you can devote two straight days to playing it. If you like to have good solid games in your collection, skip the rental and buy the game. Dare your skeptical friends to play the first 10 minutes of the game, and see if they'll try to put it down!

-Ammacis




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