Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 09/23/03 | Genre: Platform
Voodoo Vince is a new platformer from Microsoft that hasn't receive a lot of press. In fact, even during our tour of the Xbox booth at E3, Microsoft did not mention this title to us. When I first got my hands on Voodoo Vince, I wasn't sure what to expect. However, after spending some time with the title, it is surprisingly very good. In fact, I am a bit puzzled why Microsoft didn't seem to give this game much publicity.
At the beginning of VV, your creator, Madam Charmaine, is captured along with some magical zombie dust. While this is going on, some of the dust escapes in the air and her voodoo doll, Voodoo Vince to life. However, this dust unleashed a terrible evil. It is up to Vince to not only save Madam Charmaine from Kosmo the Inscrutable.
This is a very comical adventure. Kosmo the Inscrutable is a classic evil villain that has ambitious plans to rule the world. However, all of the dialogue is done in a very humorous way. You can never take Kosmo seriously and he can can go from talking in an ominous voice to that of a geeky man when he gets frightened or when he one of his underlings does something stupid.
Our hero, Voodoo Vince, is a very interesting main character. At only ten inches tall, the world around him is very large. He even mutters at the beginning of the game that he can't believe that anyone expects a ten inch voodoo doll to save the world. However, his special powers make this possible. I really like the look of Vince. the burlap textures they use are very realistic. You almost feel like you can reach out and touch the rough material on the screen. The character model also has different shaped eyes and patches all over his body. Madam Charmaine must have had him for a very long time with all the patches he has.
Because your height, Vince won't be able to open doors or get through levels in a conventional way. Instead, you will need to figure out how to get from room to room in the levels you play. For example, you might not be able to open that big door... however, is there a way to go through a window above? While the whole game is not this simplistic, you get the idea. Most platformers require you to "figure out" how to get from location to location. But in Voodoo Vince it just feels different because the main character is so small.
To help you in your quest, Vince must collect voodoo icons so he can gain new voodoo powers. You can also collect voodoo dust after defeating enemies to fill up your meter. Once that meter is full you will be able to use a voodoo power on a group of enemies. So it is best to get in the middle of a large group before using it. When you are ready to use your voodoo powers, just hold down L and R. Then say bye-bye to all nearby enemies. As you collect more voodoo icons, Vince will gain other voodoo powers. These include anvil, chainsaw, bomb, and more.
In addition to the voodoo icons, Vince can collect other items in levels like voodoo potions and hearts. Hearts give are lives and if you die, you can continue on through the adventure. voodoo potions allow Vince to get more life once he gathers a hundred of them.
The gameplay is a mix between puzzle solving and platform action. So you will have to rely on your brains as well as your brawn to keep progressing through the game. The player must control Vince through each of and either attack enemies with a kick or punch, use his voodoo powers on them, or hit X on special locations in the world to speak to other characters or do special things in the environment. For example, you might need to flip a switch. You just stand in a circle in front of the switch and you will be prompted to hit X to flip it. This makes interacting with the environment very static. Players are also not allowed to interact with items in the environment other than those with the before mentioned X circle. This is a minor complaint but would have made the world much less static.
Besides the interaction level, the environments in Voodoo Vince are very nice looking. Every level is dark but still colorful. When playing, I get the same feeling that I had with Sly Cooper. While Sly was a cell-shaded game and Voodoo Vince doesn't use that technology, I just get the same feeling when playing with VV. Vince also has some great effects in the game. Trash cans have flies buzzing around them and lights have a glow around them. The world is alive and looks very good at its constant 60 fps. That said, the jumping is one of the biggest downfalls in the title. In a platformer, this is an important aspect of the game. But jumps are just too difficult to make and you will end up jumping too far or not going far enough.
I have to admit that it is amazing to see how much power the Xbox has. While Sony continues to get more and more power out of the PlayStation 2 and stands almost toe to toe with the graphical quality of the Xbox, I wonder if we will ever see how powerful the Xbox is. Imagine if Square got their hands on this hardware. That would be amazing.
Overall, Voodoo Vince is a fun but short adventure. A seasoned gamer will go through this adventure in a weekend. Because of this, VV may make a better rental than purchase. Despite this, it is a very good adventure and hopefully will turn into a new franchise for Microsoft. Developer Beep Industries has done a marvelous job. So if you enjoy platformers, puzzle games, or action/adventure titles, check out Voodoo Vince. I guess it is true. Good things do come in small packages.