Who do that Voodoo that you do so well?
Life as a Voodoo doll must be hard. You're an object of constant abuse. People use you to hurt others. Thankfully, you feel none of the pain. And maybe after a while you might develop a masochistic fetish, making the torture enjoyable. Then again, maybe not.
There have been a few such masochistic characters over the years. From Voldo to Earthworm Jim, guys who use their bodies as a weapon isn't foreign to the video game universe. Voodoo Vince, on the other hand, takes it to a brand new level. Your Voodoo powers let you kill your enemies by hurting yourself. Chainsaws, bombs, aliens and more await Vince and are ready to kick the crap out of him at his beck and call. It brings new meaning to the phrase "This hurts me more than it hurts you."
For those who think a Voodoo doll is an unlikely hero…well, you're right. Unfortunately, Madam Charmaine isn't in a position to complain. She's been kidnapped by Kosmo the Inscrutable, a jealous rival who wants to get his hands on her Zombie Dust. During the kidnapping, the thugs hired by Kosmo break open the container of Zombie Dust, releasing its power on an unsuspecting world.
No, this is not the bayou version of the T-virus; Zombie Dust doesn't turn people into the brain-eating monsters we know and love. This dust is more of a general Voodoo magic nature, warping the world into a twisted version of itself. Monsters woken by the dust patrol the streets, and even piggy banks end up having a bad attitude.
The dust also awakens Vince, who, through his mental connection with Madam Charmaine, must track her down through the newly twisted world. His adventures end up being a fairly standard platform game, but with a flavor all its own.
The graphics for Voodoo Vince are really impressive. Sharp textures, reflective surfaces, a smooth framerate, and great light-sourcing combine to make this game a visual treat. Some of the character models are a little less complex than the surroundings themselves, but taken together, Voodoo Vince shows off the sheer power of the Xbox console.
The level design is impressive as well. The twisting, distorted world of Voodoo Vince is fun to explore. Each level is remarkably complex, with tons to do and multiple puzzles to figure out.
And the puzzles are the core of the game. Though you can punch, fight, and Voodoo your enemies to death, most levels require a lot of puzzle-solving and object manipulation. The puzzles are entertaining and usually end with you torturing yourself. Even the boss battles are less about fighting and more about figuring out the best way to hurt yourself, and thereby the boss.
You're also treated to some great music, perfect for the mood. Music changes occur seamlessly during gameplay and do a fantastic job complimenting the action. Though not the best video game music ever (that award is reserved for Skullmonkeys), Voodoo Vince gets high marks.
Well, there's the positive. But for all the good Juju, the bad Mojo isn't far behind.
I tend to rant about my hatred for extensive jumping puzzles in games. One might ask, "If you hate jumping puzzles so much, why do you play platform games?" Well, that's a good question, and Voodoo Vince has changed my opinion.
I don't hate jumping puzzles, I hate bottomless pits. It's not the jumping per se, it's the penalty of instant death if you miss. No control is perfect, especially in a 3D platform game, so missing a jump is a fairly common occurrence. Dying instantly is just a recipe for frustration. Voodoo Vince has bottomless pits aplenty and that makes it a frustrating affair.
Well, sort of, because the game just isn't long enough to get frustrating. You'll be finished it in under 10 hours fairly easily, and the replay value isn't that high considering the puzzle-based play. Once you've figured out a puzzle, playing the game over again as lost a lot of its magic, so to speak.
Unfortunately, with those two big problems, Voodoo Vince suffers quite a bit. Though a solid platformer with a unique twist, the length of the game and its high frustration factor doom it squarely to rental land. But it makes a very good rental, and a pretty good game to waste a weekend on.