Voodoo Vince Remastered: review

Voodoo Vince: Remastered does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a nicely spruced up version of a game from two whole generations ago, something which isn’t unusual normally, except that this was an Xbox exclusive and not a triple A title like the other Xbox remasters. It’s also not highly venerated like many of the other games or series that have been remastered from that generation, but its remastering is only a good thing; more middle-of-the-road games should be remastered, so new audiences can give them a go and enjoy what they have to give.

It’s a linear, collectathon platform adventure that has the feel of what would’ve once been a Saturday morning cartoon. Which is to say that it’s full of silly humour rather than the crude or slightly more adult humour in games like Banjo Kazooie or Ratchet & Clank. As we said, it’s middle of the road, and that’s mostly because it has aged a little more than its peers. Some of the design choices are a little awkward to deal with now, but it does do a few things that even some more modern 3D platformers haven’t properly learnt to do.

Vince the Voodoo Doll has to rescue his Boss, Madame Charmaine, from a half-baked magician who has gotten too big for his boots and stolen magic Zombie Dust which is now causing all sorts of mischief. While you are only small, you do have the powers that are typically bestowed upon Voodoo Dolls, namely maiming yourself to maim others – though in this case it’s merely to anything within a few meters of you rather than a particular target. Still, he also has a few other tricks up his sackcloth arms; he can also hover, swing using a magical pin and thread, and – not at all magically – beat things up the old fashioned way.

For a doll, Vince sure can pack a punch, which you’ll have to utilise fairly often in order to protect yourself from the various Voodoo-influenced baddies such as winged frogs, explosive armadillos, what we assume are “redneck” gators, and a few other critters. Hurting them makes colourful beads spill out of them, which you can collect to power the main draw of the game: Vince maiming himself.

Vince loves that Voodoo that he can do; he loves it so much he’s more than willing to shock, eviscerate, burn, poison, and perform whatever other deadly means he can muster, to himself. Rather than actually “dying” from these, he instead passes all that lethal pain onto all of those around him. This is always an instant kill on anything that’s not a boss; while bosses tend to follow the “rule of three” but make use of the object interaction version of this power – which doesn’t require a charged power meter – rather than the manually triggered one.

With it being an instant kill it feels a little cheap at times but, when the alternative is smacking the enemies in the face until they keel over, it’s nice to have a little reprieve from it – especially from the tougher ones. Where we really take umbrage with it though, is the number of these Voodoo powers we can store and the matter of us still getting all the orbs via this, to use more Voodoo again afterwards. We often ended up having enough Voodoo to do an entire level without smacking anything if we really wished to. It just feels unbalanced as there isn’t a “sweet spot” between the two because of the instant kills, and because of you losing all of your Voodoo if you die, even from falling.

As we mentioned before, it feels a little outdated in some ways, like the way that it utilises lives. You can find extra lives all over the place, but the only time we really needed them was when we fell off of something into the abyss. We rarely died from fights, almost always falling to an instant death instead, which feels cheap in levels with lots of jumping between platforms which are hovering above an infinite fall. Once you’re all out of lives, then the level resets completely, which would be fine if it weren’t for the levels with abyssal drops being the least fun and also the most excruciatingly easy to die in.

Other missteps include having the ability to swing from floating magical points being mapped to a very similar input to a “ground pound” type attack, an attack that we accidentally activated a few times too many while swinging over the abysses. Not game breaking but very annoying, especially when you consider how little most of the buttons on the controller are used.

However, we also mentioned that it was a little ahead of its time too. It’s actually really user friendly with the jumps in that 99% of all the jumps are exactly the right distance for each of your three jump types (jump, double jump, and one of those jumps with a spin attack for extra distance). This is helped further by Vince’s ability to hover, which makes it much easier for him to land just where you need him to and not too far or too near. Again, this is made better with him also being able to grab onto some ledges so you don’t have as many near misses.

Voodoo Vince was, and still is, a good game. It might show its age in various ways but it’s still a fun little adventure. It’s nice to see this getting another chance at success for a new audience and if you find the need for precision platforming daunting usually, then this might be more your speed.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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