Voodoo Vince Remastered Review
Release Date: April 17, 2017
Developer: Beep Games
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed), PC
Fourteen years ago, when we were enjoying the REAL Xbox "1," The ol' Duke Controller ran us through some classic games. While a true Microsoft fanboy is probably gonna ream me, most will say that the console that really allowed Microsoft to shine was the 360, which was complete with backwards compatibility that allowed some of the previous system's games to still maintain their popularity. Unfortunately, the keyword there is "some." Each disc had to have a profile adaption done, and some games were apparently more difficult than others. Therefore, a few titles fell through the cracks, and are only playable on the big old original Xbox. I love backwards compatibility: I know that I can go back to titles I loved, either to reminisce or share with others.
One of the titles that never made the leap back in the day was Voodoo Vince. Heralding from the days of Collect-A-Thon gaming and Cute Mascots with Attitude, Vince's creators have decided to remaster the title and bring him back for a new generation. Voodoo Vince has retained a cult following through the years, but this is his first chance to return to the front lines. Vince's early 00's one-liners are intact, and Vince has a bit of self-awareness of his video game status, making cracks at some traditional video game tropes.
The developers clearly state that this game is a cosmetic upgrade, and that all of the original gameplay remains intact. There are, of course, achievements added to the mix, but otherwise it's a prettier version of the same game released fourteen years ago. Comparing my time with the Remastered edition with some YouTube Let's Plays of the original, I can see a lot of care was put into updating the game for modern systems. Vince himself is more tangible, and looks like an actual burlap doll instead of a representation of one; you can see detail in his stitching and burlap. The world itself has managed to retain the grim "voodoo vibe" of the original whilst brightening it up for modern televisions. Enemies seem a lot more vibrant, which helps them stand out from the environment. To defeat them, you have the usual punch spins and ground pounds, but charging up your Voodoo Meter grants you the ability to directly harm yourself. Being a voodoo doll, all enemies in the immediate vicinity get a taste of your medicine. Finding special icons unlocks more animations for the Voodoo attacks. Other collectibles will increase your health per life, add extra lives, or challenge you to hunt down a roaming skull, allowing you to store up an extra Voodoo Power.
Main action levels really consist of clearing the enemies out and then figuring out a puzzle. It can be as simple as bring Piece A to Location B, and as complex as finding a combination of environmental effects, items, and locations. The game mixes it up with some unique vehicle levels from time to time as well, but you do find yourself in the traditional "NPC will help me, but only if I get him XYZ" routine, par for the course for 3D platformers of this generation.
In general, the "collect-a-thon" is light on this game with only a few select items to find in each level and an easy-access menu that helps you count down. The platforming will be simple for people old enough to remember the original release, but the environment is really what sells the game. Not many games are set in New Orleans with a distinct voodoo vibe, after all. The most memorable part for me, though, is the soundtrack. The Bayou has some very unique musical cultures, and they are all represented in the music of the game.
I would say that Voodoo Vince was one of the titles that benefitted from the old fashioned paper instruction manual, which you don't see in this digital release. It may be clearer in the game than I am seeing, but after finding the manual online, I learned you are supposed to catch the final big skull collectible instead of following it to a goal. Also, the manual was very well done, giving you a bit of fun backstory on characters and showing you what's coming up in a few levels. The core gameplay confused me a little as well, because enemies directly attack you to harm you, yet voodoo powers require you to harm yourself to hurt your enemies, and a couple times you have to drop yourself into a trap to cause yourself pain outside of that. While neat and funny, at times I was stumped due to the natural tendency to avoid traps and not knowing what would hurt and what hurt would help. Simply a matter of finding a groove with the game, though.
It's nice to see a title such as this released for a mere $14.99. Remasters are a hard run, in that people want to pay less money for old content, but it does cost money to get them up to modern snuff. Voodoo Vince is a bit linear and simple, but it is a full, quality game with hours of entertainment at a budget price. True fans of the game will get an identical experience with prettier graphics at a budget rate. If you can handle some of the unfixed natural nuances of that generation's genre, then Vince will scratch that itch.
-Witty self-aware story and main character
-The new graphics overhaul is great, with brighter enemies and great detail on the main character
-Classic platforming action you may have missed back in the day
-a wonderful (and purchasable) soundtrack
-Voodoo's a weird mumbo-jumbo to me. YMMV. Knowing when being hurt is "okay" versus "will kill you" is odd.
-Would benefit from an interactive version of the original manual
-That classic platforming action has been improved upon since Vince was originally released
Special thanks to Beep Games for providing a code for review.