Poor old Blinx, you’ve got to feel sorry for him. Here was a cat whose only wish in life was to hoover up time crystals; unfortunately, he was saddled with a flawed gimmick – time travel – and seen in some quarters as Microsoft’s answer to Sonic and Mario. The poor moggie was unable to live up to such lofty expectations and must now make do with watching from the sidelines as Microsoft reveals another unusual character with a gimmick…
He might be only ten inches high, fashioned from a burlap sack and been hit one too many times with an ugly stick, but Voodoo Vince is more than capable of looking after himself. Rather than using his fat arse to do away with foes (like a certain moustachioed plumber), or zooming through levels like a blue hedgehog on speed, Vince instead unleashes the power of voodoo to annihilate his foes.
The idea of hurting yourself to deal damage to your foes is certainly a novel one and as a result, Voodoo Vince feels original and fresh for ooh, about ten minutes. Vince’s biggest problem is that he simply stumbles into the same traps that so many other platform titles fall foul of. Collecting various objects, a camera that sometimes results in untimely deaths and patented, cliched moves like ‘the double-jump’ are all in abundance. Indeed, the first few hours of Voodoo Vince are generic to the extreme, with enough hackneyed clichés to induce you into a deep coma. Suddenly though, just when you think that the same old routines can’t get regurgitated anymore, something clicks. Despite your senses trying to tell you otherwise, Vince’s quest to find his missing mistress, Madame Charmaine starts to turn into a very enjoyable little romp.
Sure, it’s littered with various problems that will never ensure it classic status, but you suddenly start to realise where Beep Industries is coming from with its twisted little title. Conker’s Bad Fur Day is an obvious inspiration for Voodoo Vince and it serves as a good tester for when Rare’s game is eventually released. Indeed, certain aspects from Vince (the impressive Boss battles spring to mind) are inspired, while others – creating a sausage using a collection of cute baby animals – are a work of genius. The manner in which Vince negotiates Beep Industries’ twisted take on New Orleans is also very novel. Aside from a train, which allows access to completed levels, Vince uses frisky rats, submersible shrimps, hydrofoils and many other outlandish vehicles.
Like the gameplay, Vince’s visuals and sound also improve the further you progress deeper into the game. Although the music throughout is a little too quirky for its own good, the visuals (especially some of the textures) are of a very high standard. Vince himself is wonderfully animated and especially comes to life (er, death) whenever one of his many voodoo powers is activated. Despite its shortfalls, we were pleasantly surprised with the direction Voodoo Vince eventually takes. This is certainly one offbeat character we wouldn’t mind seeing again.