Microsoft / Beep Games
Xbox One, PC (Xbox One version reviewed)
A fortnight ago I posted a review of Yooka-Laylee, saying that long-time gamers who fondly remembered Rare’s glory days would enjoy it.
If you fall under that category and you’re looking for more old-school runny-jumpy goodness, Voodoo Vince Remastered is another recent release that should appeal to fans of turn-of-the-millennium platformers.
Mainly because it literally is one.
As opposed to a modern remake or reimagining in the Ratchet & Clank PS4 or Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy mould, Voodoo Vince Remastered is a simple upscaled version of the 2003 Xbox exclusive.
It’s understandable if you aren’t familiar with it – it’s a 14-year-old game that sold fewer than 150,000 copies worldwide back in the day – so as one of those 150,000 people who bought it, allow me to fill you in on the details.
Voodoo Vince is a 3D platformer in which a little doll (called Vince, obviously) is brought to life after a group of bungling burglars break into a voodoo shop and accidentally spill some zombie dust on him.
The shop’s owner Madam Charmaine is kidnapped in the ensuing fracas, so it’s up to Vince to track her down, boot her captors in the dick and rescue her while dealing with all the enemies he faces along the way (who’ve appeared because zombie dust).
Whereas many other modern remakes give their subject matter a complete makeover with new textures, character models and the like, this Xbox One and PC port of Voodoo Vince is more focused on improving the original game’s visuals.
That means the same models and geometry, albeit upscaled to 1080p and 60fps, to ensure it’s a more modern but still relatively accurate depiction of how the game originally looked back in the day.
It sounds like it did too, which is a good thing. Set partly in New Orleans, Voodoo Vince had a brilliantly jazzy soundtrack and it holds up perfectly nearly a decade and a half later.
The same can’t be said for certain other aspects. An old game means old issues returning, and some of the niggles that plagued platformers of its era are present and unchanged here.
Most notable is the dodgy camera, which sometimes decides to go rogue and point in all manner of odd directions, especially when you’re in a smaller area. It doesn’t happen enough to be game-breaking, but it’s often enough that it should be mentioned.
Some of the platforming is also a tad iffy, with awkward and finicky jumping sections appearing on occasion. These can be lessened with a floating move, which is a godsend at times.
The combat feels a wee bit light too. Vince has two main attacks – a punch and a Crash Bandicoot style spin attack – and neither really feels like you’re making much of an impact. It’s that classic feel you get from most games of that era where your guy does an attack animation and if he passes through an enemy they do an ‘ouch’ animation.
All of these are passed down from the original Xbox release, of course, so it’s not like they’re the result of a shit port. If anything, it’s a testament to its accuracy that it’s a warts-and-all presentation.
Most notable are the voodoo powers, which you can unlock by collecting voodoo icons on each stage. Although these all essentially do the same thing – when you build up your power meter you can trigger the voodoo power to kill all your enemies at once – it chooses a random one from your unlocked repertoire each time, keeping things entertaining.
These mostly involve Vince harming himself in a novel way, which in turn harms the baddies (him being a voodoo doll and all). My favourite is the one in which he pulls out a chainsaw and proceeds to swipe it across his stomach, at which point everyone in the vicinity splits in two.
It’s also slightly more puzzle-heavy than most platformers, but nothing too ridiculous. The puzzles are generally easy to figure out (at times they’re outright spelled out for you) but it’s nice to have a game where many of the boss battles involve solving a problem rather than hitting them three times.
Ultimately, Voodoo Vince Remastered is very much a game of its era and despite its niggles, many of which have been ironed out of the genre over the years, it’s still an entertaining romp for the eight hours it takes to beat.
As an Xbox original in an era when the PS2 was dominating it maybe didn’t get the mass affection some believe it deserved the first time around. If it passed you by, this resurrection is worth a look as long as you can forgive its old-school ‘quirks’.
Voodoo Vince Remastered is out now on Xbox One and PC. It’s a Play Anywhere title, meaning if you buy the Xbox One version you can get a free copy on the Windows 10 store, and vice-versa.
In order that I could write this review, I received a free copy of the game from a PR. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.
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