Back in 2003, between the chaos of the war in Iraq starting up and poker becoming big for some reason, Voodoo Vince came out on the Xbox. It was a standard platformer with the detailed yet blocky graphics of the day. In fact, that was the most most people could say - it was a standard, inoffensive platformer. 14 years, three presidents, and three Spider-Man franchises later it's been remastered and brought out again. So, what's new with Voodoo Vince?
Set in New Orleans/Southern Louisiana, Voodoo Vince: Remastered starts just as you would think it does – with magic. Basically, when some thieves break into a voodoo shop in New Orleans, a Voodoo doll named Vince comes to life. With your owner out for the count, you need to go after what they stole, taking you all across Southern Louisiana, but with a slightly more magical air. The setting is great – anytime a game does New Orleans (Everything or Nothing, Mafia III, etc.) it's always going to be great fun thanks to the unique setting and culture. As for the story, while there are a few twists and turns, it basically comes down to “get this object back, but go through hell trying to get it back.” It's a bit tired, especially now, but the setting more than makes up for it.
Playing through, I can definitely see how reviews back in '03 called it an average platformer. But being based on voodoo, all the running, jumping and collecting also brings in fighting, and that's where it gets unique. To kill enemies, an option is to kill yourself, and then use that method for all the enemies around you. Like, say, cut yourself in half with a chainsaw – all your enemies around you are. It's little touches like that that are fun. Not too much on a difficulty curve, but you do have fun figuring everything out too.
The controls for the PC are relatively easy. I can how this might be a little easier for a controller, but I played it on my laptop just fine. I only had a real problem panning around, as it seemed like I would get stuck panning sometimes. But other than that, it ported very well.
The graphics are a mix of new and old. Going through some areas, the xbox-era graphics show through, as they have that blocky look to them. But on characters like Vince, he looks like a modern gen game. Streetlamps? Xbox. Tiling? Today. It's an odd mix, but it shows where it counts. I wished for more, because the contrast can be quite jarring on some levels. Some have poor quality looking objects even for the Xbox era, and here comes modern Vince strolling through – you really, really see the big difference. While the remaster is great, it didn't feel like they updated enough in some places.
The music of Voodoo Vince is another strong point. It's a mix of jazz, cajun and the Arrested Development soundtrack:
It's a really good tone to have in my opinion, and feels like a playful Louisiana. Sounds on the other hand are more mixed. While things like objects Vince uses are sounded beautifully, and many side characters have good voice work, Vince himself doesn't sound....real. He sounds like an average guy making snarky, repetitive comments. Like the Jackbox guy, but not as funny. With a better voice, more varied commentary and maybe more in sync animation, it would have gotten top marks. But Vince himself carries this down a bit.
The frame rate of the game got a lot better. While the original had jumpier graphics and seemed to move unrealistically, the remastered version is smooth as hell. I had no problems with it besides a minor camera issue where it would pan weirdly. Other than that, no real bugs to speak of. It's definitely a big improvement over the original.
I wanted a bit more from Voodoo Vince: Remastered. Vince was a little annoying at times, there wasn't much plot and it really felt like a standard platformer. The New Orleans setting and the great music helped, as did some of the more inventive ways to play. It's definitely worth trying, especially if you played the original and liked it. Your kids would probably find things to like too. I'll put it like this – I'm on the fence for it for a platformer, but the style, setting and music definitely pushes me into the buy camp.
FINAL SCORE: 7.4 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.