The popularity of 3D platformers really took off when MARIO 64 was released on the Nintendo 64 in what seems like ages ago. Clones were sure to follow, each trying to capitalize on the success of MARIO 64 by adding a different character but sticking with the same gameplay methods. Of course, there have been some stand-outs, such as BANJO KAZOOIE, BLINX THE TIME SWEEPER and JAK AND DAXTER, games which went above and beyond what MARIO 64 did; they didn't stay confined to the norm that MARIO 64 brought about. Now, Microsoft is at it again, this time with one of the weirdest games I've seen in some time, VOODOO VINCE.
The story of VOODOO VINCE takes place in New Orleans. Madame Charmaine runs a local voodoo shop in the town; she specializes in something called zombie dust. Apparently this is a pretty hot commodity because at least one thug in town wants to get his hands on it. When a couple of thugs break into Charmaine's store, they accidentally unleash the zombie dust; in the process, they kidnap Madame Charmaine. But, luckily, the zombie dust brings to life Charmaine's third best voodoo doll, Vince. Charmaine will contact Vince by a telepathic link and will help you through each level. The storyline is told fairly well using cut-scenes, but the game is way too short. Unless you somehow get stuck and have to repeat a level over and over again, the game can be completed under 10 hours easily.
Vince has pretty basic combat moves he can punch, double jump, spin attack and even has a cool head first dive. Vince's coolest move is when he unleashes a super voodoo attack though. This is pretty humorous normally, because being a voodoo doll, the best way to attack someone else is to inflict pain on yourself. You'll see trucks running Vince over, drills going through his head, even UFOs shooting at him.
But probably the coolest thing about VOODOO VINCE is the puzzles. The game is packed with puzzles; while some of them are a little too easy, some of them can take a few minutes just to figure out what is going on. Even the bosses involve a puzzle aspect to them instead of just a typical beat-'em-up. Remember, your best weapon is yourself since you're a voodoo doll, so be prepared to run between colliding trains or things like that.
Of course, VOODOO VINCE looks great. The city of New Orleans looks realistic in a sort of Tim Burton, NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS kind of way (although I've heard the dev team took a video camera around the city to make it as real as they could). Vince himself is animate well, and his attacks are done even better. There are only a few complaints to be made here. The enemies can get dull after a while, because for the most part, they're all the same. Also, while the game looks great, sometimes it is hard to judge if a surface is sloped or not, which can lead to an accidental death.
Of course, I think what impressed me the most was the soundtrack and voice acting. The entire soundtrack is catchy to me, even though most of the songs are kind of creepy; even so, I still have them in my head hours later. Surprisingly, the voice acting in VOODOO VINCE is superb, beginning and ending with Vince himself. His wit and humor is good for a laugh, and the script to the game is well written.
While VOODOO VINCE may be a tad on the short side, it is an impressive platformer. The game provides an interesting take on platform games and has a nice combination of platform-jumping and puzzle solving gameplay.