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Voodoo Vince Remastered Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . When this HD re-release was first announced, I saw a lot of people react with utter confusion. Of all games, why Voodoo Vince? As somebody who liked the game then and continues to like it now, I'll tell you exactly why: It's because the character got a raw deal fourteen years ago and deserves a second chance. This is a charming little game that doesn't look or feel like most 3D platformers, and its sense of style shines through all these years later. I would have preferred a sequel or proper reboot, but I'm all for a new generation discovering video gaming's most likable voodoo doll. Just be prepared for some of the more outdated elements. Rating: 64%
Voodoo Vince Remastered
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
It used to be that every console maker needed a mascot character -- Nintendo had Mario, Sega had Sonic, NEC went with Bonk. So when Microsoft decided to jump into the highly competitive video game market, many wondered what kind of cute and cuddly action hero would define the Xbox. As it turns out, it wasn't a talking animal or platforming hero that stole the spotlight, but rather a heavily-armored space marine named Master Chief.

Although it was clear that the days of leaning on adorable mascot characters had effectively come to an end, that didn't stop Microsoft from trying to compete with the Crash Bandicoots of the world. Their first attempt was a miserable time-bending cat named Blinx, who platformed his way through two games that felt like they were cobbled together from misguided focus groups. Thankfully, their second attempt, Voodoo Vince, was a significant improvement that offered an original concept that toyed with the genre in some fun ways. Unfortunately, very few people bothered to give this Cajun voodoo doll a chance, and it looked like Vince was destined to live the rest of his life in relative obscurity.


But in an era when everything old is new again, the creator of Voodoo Vince has decided to rescue the hero from the dustbin of history. The result is the unimaginatively named Voodoo Vince Remastered, a curious re-release of a fourteen year old mascot game very few remember. And while this brand new Xbox One and PC release certainly feels dated in all the ways you might expect, it's a stark reminder that this lovable platformer shouldn't have been forgotten about in the first place.

This is the story of Vince, a voodoo doll that has been magically brought to life after his owner was kidnapped by Cosmo the Inscrutable. As heroes go, this little guy is about as unlikely as they come. He's only a foot tall, is missing an eye and is made entirely from burlap, but that's not going to stop him from traveling through the busted-up streets of New Orleans to save Madam Charmaine and teach Cosmo a lesson.

As a voodoo doll, Vince has a lot more going on than the typical running and jumping. His gimmick is to hurt himself in order to do massive damage to those around him. This sets up a scenario where he's constantly looking for new voodoo attacks, which can range from blending your opponents to getting smashed by an anvil to being sawed in half. This clever concept is also brought into the various boss fights, where the goal is to set up the conditions to cause major damage to the doll to ultimately win the fight. There's something cathartic about smashing the hero up in order to take down your foes, and the developer has a lot of fun coming up with dozens of painful attacks to take advantage of.

Voodoo Vince Remastered (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

What I like about Voodoo Vince is that it doesn't rely too heavily on this one mechanic, instead choosing to mix things up with a wide variety of activities. In one level you'll have to move the clock hands in order to solve a series of puzzles, while other stages have you flying an airplane, riding a rat and sliding down the world's longest clothesline. Every time you think you know where it's headed, the game changes directions and has you doing something completely different. There's a sense of unpredictability that is refreshing, even if some of the activities land with a thud.

What you may not know is that Voodoo Vince was one of the first games I reviewed as a freelancer, back when I was writing for UGO in 2003. While I cringe looking back at it now, I was generally pretty positive about the platforming antics and likable character. The truth is, most of the complaints I had at the time are still valid today, only now they've been compounded by some of the more outdated elements. I still wish that we had more control over the voodoo powers and that more was done with this clever mechanic. I continue to think that Vince is a limited character who moves too slowly and has some pretty ineffective attacks. And some of the more linear elements annoy me every bit as much now as they did fourteen years ago.

On top of those issues I brought up at the time, Voodoo Vince Remastered has a new set of problems that are largely related to it coming from a different console generation. The camera, for example, can often be a problem, especially when the game insists on stuffing our hero into cramped areas. I also find some of Vince's one-liners to be a bit stale, especially when they're repeated multiple times. In fact, most of the writing, even the funnier bits, feels like a relic of another time. Which, to be fair, is exactly what it is.

Voodoo Vince Remastered (Xbox One)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It's probably worth mentioning that the graphics look a little plain by today's standards. Granted, it looks better than it did in 2003 and the very specific style still comes through loud and clear, but you will never confuse this with a modern platformer. As unique as it all looks, it's a little disappointing to see the same muted color palette used in pretty much every level. Just about the best looking thing here is Vince himself, whose burlap bag skin really pops on the brand new hardware. That said, the soundtrack is phenomenal and is pretty much the one part of this game that hasn't aged.

When this HD re-release was first announced, I saw a lot of people react with utter confusion. Of all games, why Voodoo Vince? As somebody who liked the game then and continues to like it now, I'll tell you exactly why: It's because the character got a raw deal fourteen years ago and deserves a second chance. This is a charming little game that doesn't look or feel like most 3D platformers, and its sense of style shines through all these years later. I would have preferred a sequel or proper reboot, but I'm all for a new generation discovering video gaming's most likable voodoo doll. Just be prepared for some of the more outdated elements.
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