An exciting twist of novel gameplay in the platformer genre.
When a game has a word such as 'voodoo' within its title, there comes to be certain expectations that the player has. Voodoo Vince does a great job of incorporating the idea of a voodoo doll into the gameplay and the story. The premise is fairly straightforward: a magically challenged wizard of sorts by the name of Kosmo the Inscrutable kidnaps Madam Charmaine, and during the process, spills a lot of her zombie dust, the substance that provides her magical powers. The spill awakens her third-best voodoo doll, Vince, in addition to awakening other creatures throughout the game world and twisting the city and its surroundings. Vince begins his adventure in the streets of New Orleans, populated by pit frogs and featuring streets torn apart by fog emanating from bottomless pits. From New Orleans, Vince journeys to an underground research lab to a crypt to a rundown mansion to a swamp to the home base of Kosmo the Inscrutable.
Throughout the adventure, the main gameplay is as a platformer, steadily escalating in difficulty without becoming too difficult at any given point. The health system of the game is well-thought-out. Collecting dropped zombie dust bags increases Vince's health, and this health is decreased by contain with enemies. The combat is fairly basic: a punch move, a spin attack and a vertical drop attack. In addition to the health, there are hearts. Vince loses a heart whenever he falls in water, a bottomless pit or if his health drops to zero. The game auto saves at every level and whenever Vince loses all hearts. When reloading a game, it starts the game at the same level at which Vince died and issues him three hearts, as well as retaining all the items collected. At a certain point, Vince gains the ability to travel to previous areas, allowing him to stock up on hearts. Voodoo Icons are occasionally within the levels and grant new voodoo powers that are pretty creative. The other item to pick up in the environments are items called Skull Pages. Whenever all of them in a particular level are collected, they spawn a Skull that grants another slot of Voodoo Power that Vince uses to fuel his Voodoo Attacks.
Boss fights are one of the areas that showcase the voodoo doll nature of Vince very well. Being struck by lightening, jumping into whirling blades and throwing himself under falling rocks are all manners of self-harm that Vince utilizes in order to fight off the enemies that try to kill him.
The platforming portion of the game is done well. The jumps are manageable with the proper technique and timing. Double jumps and spins, combined with a hover function allows for a lot of control for positioning of Vince as he floats from platform to platform. The camera does an excellent job of following Vince without placing him in a problematic angle. It is also always adjustable, allowing for better gauging of the jumps.
One of the best aspects of the game is the sense of humor that is possessed by Vince. Snide comments abound, as well as asides about some of the characters and the bosses. The sound is great, as it incorporates the jazz for which New Orleans is well-known in addition to something different and somewhat creepy, keeping in with the spirit of the game. The sound effects are also well done, and they fit with what is going on in the game. The graphics are remarkable. Even six years after its release, the game holds up well. There are few if any graphical hitches at all.
Perhaps the only area that could have used improvement is with the Voodoo Attacks. There are some great ones, and some not so great ones. I believe there is somewhere around twenty-five or so, but I don't believe I saw them all through my playtime. The problem with the attacks is that when Vince uses the attack, the animation shown is apparently chosen at random. So, while a mobster hit, an acid bath, a jackhammer, a foot from the sky, and other things are all very entertaining to watch, you might see the same ones several times before seeing a new one. An inventory screen for these attacks wherein Vince could organize them would have been a great addition.
In my playing, I collected all of the Zombie Dust, all of the Skull Pages, all of the Skulls and all of the Voodoo Icons. My total game time was around twelve hours.
Overall, I loved the game, and I will likely play it again. For anyone who enjoys platformers that focus on the traditional gameplay with only a smattering of combat would do well to pick up Voodoo Vince.