STAFF REVIEW of Voodoo Vince: Remastered (Xbox One)

Friday, May 12, 2017.
by Kirby Yablonski

Voodoo Vince: Remastered Box art Rewind the clock to 2003, when Microsoft’s original Xbox making waves. This big black bulky console, with a built in hard drive (first of its kind), was just the start of what would be become the Xbox Platform. Along with the console came some Xbox specific games, and one such game was Voodoo Vince. I didn’t get the chance to play the game back then, as I was invested in the world of Halo, but I know many of my gaming friends who did and they enjoyed it. Well this 14 year old 3D platformer has seen a rebirth of sorts. Voodoo Vince Remastered was released for the Xbox One a few weeks ago as a Play Anywhere title (PC and Xbox One). It’s a full remaster of the original with updated visuals, widescreen support, and an improved framerate. So, how does this 14 year old remastered game feel in the realm of modern day gaming? Well, not too bad to tell you the truth, but it’s not without a hiccup or two.

The premise of Voodoo Vince Remastered is a simple one. It takes place in a twisted interpretation of the New Orleans. You are a voodoo doll in Madam Charmaine’s shop, and a group of goons are looking to steal her zombie dust. The job is kind of bungled and the baddies end up kidnapping Madam Charmaine while managing to spill some of the dust they were taking. This dust brings you to life, and your journey as a living burlap voodoo doll begins as you are tasked to collect the missing dust and save Madam Charmaine. The story is one that makes sense in this 3D platformer, and yes, it’s weird to be a living voodoo doll, but it’s a game that is meant to be fun, so what would you expect, right?

As this game is a 3D platformer, you’ll find the game broken into various zones, from a city setting to the swamps of New Orleans. Each zone results various gameplay elements, such as jumping, running, searching, and even playing music, as you venture forth to complete each area. For a 14 year old game, there is quite a lot to do in each level, ranging from traditional platforming, flying an aircraft, boat racing and even a mine-cart level, so there is more than you’d expect here. Of course you’ll be fighting mini-bosses and end-level bosses as well.

Vince has a set of combat skills to help him along in his journey including head stomps, punches and a spin attack. You’ll find that the punches seem somewhat weak, but when you consider that Vince is a voodoo doll, this kind of makes sense. You’ll rely on his spin attack more often than not. One of the really neat features of this game though is that Vince can harm himself (hey, he’s a voodoo doll that can regenerate back to life) which in turn harms others or helps him solve puzzles. For example, you can get hit by a large number of arrows only to have these same bunch of arrows hit your enemies or you can throw yourself into miscellaneous fan blades, shred yourself up into bits, and become material to weigh a switch down to activate. These deaths are kind of cute, in a cartoony way, as you’ll always come back to life and continue your adventure.

Along with all the action comes collecting. Yes, as you’d expect in a game like this you are tasked with collecting quite a few things. Now to be fair, you do not have to search overly hidden areas to find them, as the developer has been nice enough to make most of these somewhat easy to find. This takes away that false sense of gameplay length forcing one to have to have to search every single nook and cranny. There are a TON (caps put in for emphasis of course) of collectibles to collect too. You’ll collect Dust Bags (increase health bar every 100), Skull Pages (increase amount of energy for voodoo powers every 50) and Voodoo Icons (each one unlocks new Voodoo Power). In terms of the latter, there are just over 30 Voodoo Powers for you to open up, which are all very useful during the game, so you’ll want to make time to find them. These powers are only used when your Voodoo Power Energy level is at a point where it is enough to use the specific power, so you won’t be using them all the time. Smart planning for the use of these powers is needed.

Although Voodoo Vince Remastered is quite nostalgic, and has some charm to it, it definitely is not the perfect gaming experience. Sure, much of it has manages to move into the modern era with little difficulty, but some of the aged mechanics also cause a bit of grief. One of the most notable is the in-game camera. The camera seems to move too slow and you’ll find that at key moments it goes all wonky causing a few untimely deaths. You’ll definitely fight it for the right placement more than a few times. Another issue is that some of the ‘action’ controls feel a bit off too, and you may find such things as a double jump really an issue, so much so that you’ll you may want to throw your controller on occasion.

Voodoo Vince Remastered is strictly a single player affair that should last anywhere between 8-10 hours or so. Should you need to find the last of a few collectibles, then tack on a bit more time, but not too much given how visible the collectibles can be. The skill required to complete the game is not overly high, which is a good thing as it allows so many different gamers the chance to experience something from the original Xbox days.

Presentation wise, the game looks fairly solid, as it has been updated with modern day visuals in 1080p widescreen. Now, you have to remember that the game is 14 years old, and it was not designed from scratch for the Xbox One, but you’ll still find some pleasant graphics and effects littered about the game, just keep your expectations realistic. As for the game’s framerate, it generally does a good job, but there are times that you will notice some slowdown. It doesn’t affect the overall gampelay, but it definitely noticeable for sure.

In terms of the sound, I have to say that Vince himself was fairly well voiced, and all the supporting voice actors and sound effects make the game what it is. You will find a few instances when Vince looks at you from the screen to give you a wiseass crack that is context specific too. What I really enjoyed personally though was the jazz based soundtrack. I am not a jazz fan in anyway, but given the setting of the game, the music really suited the in-game locations and action, and it was a nice little treat. I am sure some may disagree, but my opinion is such that it wasn’t that bad at all and added to the game experience.

Overall I would say that Voodoo Vince Remastered is a fairly solid remaster, even with a few issues brought forward by its age. Sure, the camera is slow and out of whack at times, the framerate slows down now and then, and the control can be problematic here and there, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. What are these positives you ask? Well, how about updated visuals, good music, easy to find collectibles, varied gameplay, the addition of achievements, and a price point that doesn’t gouge for a remastered game. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think the price ($14.99 (USD)) is pretty damn fair for what is offered here. For those gamers who never experienced Voodoo Vince on the original Xbox, and even those who did, feel free to check out this remastered version and take a trip to days of the original Xbox and a game that showed how enjoyable the platform could be.

Overall: 7.9 / 10
Gameplay: 7.8 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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