To me, Voodoo Vince encapsulates everything good about old school 3D platformers. It’s full of quirky, offbeat humor, a great cast of kooky characters (yeah, you’re damn right I said kooky), plenty of collectibles with useful benefits, a wonderfully weird world to explore, and tight controls. And gimmicks! There is always a gimmick. In this case, since Vince is a voodoo doll he is immune to many things that would normally be dangerous. This gimmick ties in directly with the gameplay mechanics. Let me give you a few examples here to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about. In one segment early on in the game, Vince has to light himself on fire in order to blow up an angry talking pair of gas pumps. The problem is that Vince doesn’t stay lit up indefinitely so he has to pass open gas sources on his way to the pumps so he can keep on burning. Obviously, the fire would kill you in any other game, but since Vince is a magic voodoo doll, he is impervious to most normal types of harm.
Vince has a few more moves in his arsenal, besides his all-powerful special attack. He has a basic punch move, a weaker spin attack that can also be used midair, and an attack where he jumps into the air and comes crashing down onto an enemy headfirst, similar to Mario’s butt stomp move. Voodoo Vince contains some really tricky platforming bits. Luckily Vince has the ability to hover, slowing his descent. What I really love is that the camera automatically shifts downwards when you activate the hover, giving the perfect view for a precision landing. I found myself navigating areas like a pro, very rarely falling to my doom like I normally would. It made the whole game a lot more satisfying to me because there is nothing more frustrating than dying repeatedly due to a series of narrow, high-up platforms. There are also segments in the game where Vince has to use a vehicle, such as an airplane or a saddled mouse (yes, you read that right). They add a pleasant bit of variety to the game and they aren’t too difficult to control, which can be a problem in some games when the vehicle controls are poorly executed.
Each level is a genuine pleasure to explore. Some are more straightforward than others but mostly all of them contain plenty of nooks and crannies to explore and a give off a nice sense of verticality. Each area is made up of multiple levels that eventually culminate with a big boss fight. The environments are varied as well. Vince explores locations ranging from city streets, a spooky imp-filled graveyard, and finally a dark carnival. My personal favorite is the Main Square in The Quarter. A huge clock sits atop a building. Various shops litter the area, and they only open at certain hours. By making use of the clock you can open the shops that you need to visit in order to acquire what you need to play some tunes with a skeletal jazzman who won’t let you pass through the gate until you have a jam session with him. This is game design at its finest and definitely makes for some memorable moments. Each boss is a unique encounter. Vince must find elements in the environment that he can use to hurt himself in order to do damage to the boss. This often requires both skill and timing, and the way is not always readily apparent. A good example is the Dolly fight. Dolly sits in the middle of the play area launching projectiles at you. To beat her, you need to find the switches hidden throughout the area that activates two trains and sends them on a collision course with one another. Once activated, Vince has to get to the indicated spot where the two trains will collide and put himself in the middle of the crash, resulting in damage being dealt to Dolly. The unique scenarios that each boss poses help set them apart from one another, keeping the encounters feeling fresh and fun. I actually looked forward to the boss fights just to see what kind of craziness I would have to deal with next
It’s always a pleasure to see a game that deserves getting the remastered treatment. I won’t name names, but certain remasters out now are nothing more than ports, shoddier than the originals in some cases. I never got to play Voodoo Vince when it was originally released, and having played it now, I feel like I missed out on a good thing back then. With its crisp, charming visuals, tight gameplay, wonderful level design, and offbeat characters Voodoo Vince is a must play in my book.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review
Final Score: 9/10
+Crisp, charming graphics
+Fabulous level design
+Fun boss encounters