Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone







While the genre has become a walking zombie as of late, platform titles still command a loyal audience of gamers. Voodoo Vince is another in a long line of these cute mascot games. It seems rather generic at first, but comes to life thanks to some unique play mechanics and its use of New Orleans mythology. The ability to hurt yourself in order to hurt enemies is unique, and gives the gameplay a feel all its own. The funky character design and jazz-infused music score add to the atmosphere and differentiates it from the norm. Join us as we take a trip to the Big Easy and see if Voodoo Vince will cast a spell on gamers, or whether he'll be cursed to spend an eternal afterlife with the undead in bargain bins.

In a dark alley in the French Quarter, a voodoo priestess named Lady Charmaine runs a highly respected voodoo shop. She uses her magic powers for good and protects the good people from evil. One dark night, a group of thugs enlisted by an evil, yet incompetent man named Kosmo the Inscrutable sets upon her and takes her to places unknown. However, before she was abducted, Lady Charmaine sprinkled zombie dust on one of her favorite voodoo dolls, Vince. The zombie dust caused Vince to come to life, and when he awakens, Lady Charmaine instructs him to come to her rescue. However, his journey will be a dangerous one and Vince will have to defeat many magical creatures and boss characters before he can rescue his creator. Luckily, Vince has many special voodoo powers at his disposal that can aid him in his quest. Vince is powered by Mojo, which is his life force. Losing all his Mojo causes him to die, but he can collect zombie dust to increase his Mojo. During each level, he'll also find dust bags, which increase his total Mojo level. If he looks hard enough, he can also find pages in Lady Chermaine's spellbook, collecting enough of these will point him to Skull Powers, which give him a ton of extra mojo and unlock special voodoo powers. While the structure sounds conventional at first, this is tied together with Voodoo Vince's interesting backstory. The New Orleans setting makes for an interesting change of pace from the predicatable plots in most platforming titles, and the Cajun influence gives the game a unique feel.

Voodoo Vince's gameplay consists of traditional platforming action with puzzle solving and platforming, creating a good balance of skill and smarts The levels are challenging and can be quite large with multiple objectives on each. During each level, the enemies come in a number of flavors including Imps, possessed Gas Tanks, demonic frogs, to name a few. The cast is quite interesting and their characterizations definitely evoke the spirit of New Orleans' voodoo history. Vince will also face a number of sub-boss and boss characters. Each of these foes presents the player with a unique challenge, and you'll have to use different strategies to defeat each one. This lack of predictability is another refreshing change of pace for the genre and helps Voodoo Vince stand out from the pack. In addition to platforming skills, Voodoo Vince also tests player's brain power with a number of fairly intricate puzzles. These can be surprisingly tricky and take multiple steps to complete. For example, there's an area early in the game that requires you to find a heavy object, place it on a platform, then jump down through an open door. This is trickier than it sounds because you have to navigate narrow paths without losing your balance. Other puzzles require both brainpower and dexterity. There's one area where Vince has to stand in front of flaming gas tanks and set himself on fire, than go back to another area to cause an explosion, without losing the flame. Doing so successfully is harder than it sounds, and you have to move quickly and carefully at these points. Voodoo Vince's gameplay emphasizes both elements and the tricky platforming action and complex puzzle helps the gameplay feel less repetitive than other titles. The designers have stuck an excellent balance between these styles, and the creative implementation makes for highly polished gameplay that's evident throughout.

Any platformer worth playing is only as good as its controls, and Voodoo Vince's intuitive handling makes jumping, crossing gaps and fighting enemies simple and accessible. Players control Vince's movement using the left analog stick, and can switch the camera angle around using the Left stick. Jumps are performed using the A button, and players can perform double jumps by pressing this twice. Vince has several attack moves, including the usual spins, diving attacks and punches along with some special Voodoo Powers. These Voodoo attacks can only be performed when his special meter is full but are easy to perform, requiring you to press both shift buttons simultaneously. As you'd expect, one of his unique abilities involves him using a pin on himself, which doesn't hurt him but causes any nearby enemies to 'feel his pain.' It's a clever gimmick that's implemented effectively since the controls are quite simple. Other Voodoo Attacks include magical chainsaws, setting up bear traps and drowning yourself. It's not all ground-based platforming because you can take over and use a variety of vehicles in his quest including bumper cars, fan boats, trolley cars, plus more interesting vehicles such as submarines, laundry baskets and even a giant rat. As you can tell, the designers were quite creative with these and controlling them is intuitive and fun as well.

New Orleans' legends and myths of mystery and occult danger are a huge part of Cajun mythology and the developers use many of these elements such as magic beads, zombies and magic to give Voodoo Vince a unique personality. From a technical standpoint, the game is excellent with smooth frame rates and silky smooth character animation. The default camera angles used are generally good and rarely get in the way of the action and players can manually adjust this at the few points that it does. What's more impressive is that the designers have done an excellent job in capturing the New Orleans feel with funky and expressive character designs that display a lot of creativity. The in-game cut-scenes are funny and funky with plenty of personality. Making the main foe, Kosmo the Inscrutable, an incompetent teenager with a cracking voice creates more comic relief than fear and gives the game a light-hearted feel. The game's cast of good and evil characters are fleshed out nicely and do a good job in populating an appropriately warped view of New Orleans. The level designs are clever and funky, with many of the city's famous landmarks such as the French Quarter and the city's famous aboveground Crypts make an appearance. You'll also go into kitchens, through sewers and race through swamps. These areas lend the game a distinct character that's different from most titles currently on the market. Voodoo Vince's voice-overs are excellent and humorous, bringing both living and undead characters to life effectively. All of this is set against a jazzy, funky score sets an appropriate mood as well and definitely adds to the already funky atmosphere.

The game's funky design and polished production values are excellent and make for a beautiful game, but it's the unique gameplay mechanics that will keep you playing after the novelty wears off. The excellent control system allows you to move around and perform special moves with ease, which makes playing the game loads of fun. Fighting foes is also interesting and the voodoo angle allows you to perform some interesting moves that help give the game an interesting personality. Voodoo Vince's intricate level designs are challenging and there are some excellent puzzles that give the game an added depth. Unfortunately, the game is a little bit too short in the end and it's linear design makes the replay value a bit low. Still, this shouldn't dissuade fans of platform games from taking a spin down to the Big Easy. It's funky atmosphere and charming design will suck you in, but Voodoo Vince's challenging gameplay will keep you under its spell for quite some time.

> Related Reviews

Grabbed by the Ghoulies (Xbox)
Ratchet & Clank Going Commando (PS2)
Jak II