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Voodoo Vince

Review By:  Greg Lynch

Developer:  Beep Industries
Publisher:  Microsoft
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Platform
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Date Posted: 

7-8-04

Iím sure that someday gamers will accept that short length of gameplay is not necessarily a bad thing. Max Payne 2 and Panzer Dragoon Orta are prime examples of games that did poorly in sales despite stellar reviews. People just donít want to spend their hard earned money on an eight hour long game when the same amount could go toward a game that will last them twenty hours or more.

No genre suffers worse than platformers when it comes to value for your hard earned cash, and Voodoo Vince is no exception to the rule. Despite good reviews and a complete lack of any worthy platform game on the Xbox, sales of Voodoo Vince were relatively low.  When most gamers read the reviews the length of gameplay reared its ugly head, and the game was quickly overlooked for other games that offered more bang for the buck. Unfortunately, those people are also missing one of standout titles on the Xbox, and one of the best Xbox Only titles available for the system.

In terms of gameplay, Voodoo Vince is a fairly traditional platformer. Unfortunately, simple jumping, hitting, spinning, and other genre clichťs do nothing to help separate it from the pack of similar games. However, the presentation is virtually unmatched, and will be instantly comparable to people who have played another classic game in the Big Easy, Grim Fandango. With a whimsical eye for art direction, a wonderfully entertaining lead character, and dialog that is both excellently written and consistently clever, this game oozes style.

While the gameplay is mostly cookie cutter in design, that doesnít mean there arenít a few tricks up its sleeve to keep things interesting. For one, not only do you deal damage by attacking your enemies, you also deal massive damage by attacking yourself (you are a voodoo doll after all). By collecting voodoo beads scattered throughout the levels, you can charge up your voodoo power and unleash a world of hurt on large groups of enemies. Several voodoo icons are also scattered about the levels, and unlock more interesting death sequences as you progress through the game. Examples include a chainsaw that hacks Vince in half, giant cows falling from the sky, and an outhouse that gives Vince a bad case of diarrhea. Surprisingly, the attacks are varied and interesting enough that I never grew bored of executing them (especially the one with the outhouse). 

The game also does a great job of mixing up the action on a regular basis to keep the gameplay fresh. There are several interesting puzzles to solve, and several mini-games offering a fun, but fairly shallow diversion. All these add up to a wonderful mix of gameplay that help keep it entertaining through to the very end.

While the game definitely shines in most areas, there are a few problems weighing it down. The most offending problem comes in the form of difficulty. While the game is almost easy to a fault for the first five hours of gameplay (and I mean easy), the difficulty ramps up considerably in the last few levels and ended up taking the last three hours to beat. From difficult jumps, to frustrating falls that lead to lengthy backtracking, to not knowing what to do next, the game definitely feels like an exercise in tedium at times. While it does give you a feeling of accomplishment -and possibly relief- once you beat it, it would be nice if that difficulty either remained consistent throughout, or ramped up slowly as the game progressed.

The second problem comes in the form of replay value. While Iím fine with short games, itís nice to know that thereís a reason to come back to them once completed. Unfortunately, there are no rewards for beating the game, nor any reason to return to it. The game is just over, and all the witty dialog and interesting art design probably wonít make you want to go through it again. Once youíve seen it all, youíll likely be satisfied with the time you spent with it, and decide itís time to move on. Fortunately, the price of the game dropped mere months after its release, and youíll likely find that youíll get your twenty dollars worth. Itís still a fantastic game while it lasts.

Highs:

  • Excellent production values and art direction
  • Good mix of gameplay

Lows:

  • Short, with little to no replay value
  • Too easy in the beginning, frustratingly hard at the end

Final Verdict: 

In the end, Voodoo Vince is a great game. The problems with length mostly stem from the fact that the game is so easy for the first 90% of the game. Youíre always moving forward, plowing through levels one after another, which is both the gameís blessing and curse. While you never have a chance to settle into a lull because something new is right around the corner, a little more difficulty would have stretched the gameplay out considerably giving people more value for their gaming dollars. Had the designers given the gamer a reason to want to play it over again, it would be an easy game to recommend to anyone regardless of length. However, as it stands it should appeal to those gamers who appreciate a lot of style in their gamesí presentation, and are just as happy with a short but fun jaunt through another platformer.  

Overall Score: 8.4

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