September 2003

Voodoo Vince

September 30, 2003

There are few games out there that truly capture one’s imagination, make you lose track of time, forget that you have places to go, people to see; all because you are so captivated by the world the game presents to you. Personally, I have only had three games do this to me thus far – Halo, Ratchet and Clank, and Kingdom Hearts. In fact, Halo still captures my attention for hours on end countless weekends in the year. I am proud to add another game to my short little list: Voodoo Vince.

Is it hot in here or is it me?

Voodoo Vince is set in the surly, dark underworld of the New Orleans night life, in which Vince, a voodoo doll, is forced to become an unlikely hero when some unscrupulous bad guys steal Vince’s maker Madame Charmaine’s zombie dust. She is kidnapped by Kosmo the Inscrutable’s cronies and Vince, brought to life by the powers of the zombie dust has to save her. The game then takes you through level after beautifully constructed level of the New Orleans and Louisiana landscape with a twist, as it has all been altered by the negative effect of the stolen zombie dust. Each level is so well thought out and graphically stunning that you hate to leave each one behind when you complete it. The humor that is presented in the game is a little cheesy at times, but still it is funny and is suited very well to a 10″ voodoo doll. Each character you meet and obstacle you encounter is unique and funny in its own aspect too. This game, put out by Microsoft and Beep Studios, is so well thought out and planned that there are few details that are left untouched. The graphics and worlds created alone are enough to make this game worth checking out.

Another thing worth mentioning, while I am on the trend of extreme praise, is the music that is heard in the game. This is what really sets the mood of the game. The sounds of New Orleans come alive as you play through each level listening to jazz from smooth to lively. There was one bit of classical music that literally put me to sleep once while Cone was playing, but other than that, the music just completes the feel of the game. It helps to really take you there. Halo’s “soundtrack” is a good thing to compare it to…without it, it just wouldn’t be Halo. The same goes for Voodoo Vince, the levels just become that more alive with the sounds of good ole New Orleans jazz playing in the background.

Enter the Voodoo

Oh, did I mention that in addition to kicking and punching the baddies that you hurt yourself in a myriad of ways to kill them as well? Yeah, that’s right, in this game it is okay to “die.” Drop an anvil on your own head, jump into a flour grinder, swim in a bathtub full of man (or voodoo doll) eating sharks, get attacked by killer aliens; you name it, you can do it and it kills the bad guys in masses. The best part is that it is a simple task to do all of these things. You build up voodoo power and then pull both trigger and voila! dead monsters. That is another aspect of the game I really appreciated – the controls were kept simple. One button jumps, one punches, one does a spin attack, and the other allows you to pick up and drop items. This is not to say that the levels
not progress in difficulty, because believe me, they do, but it is just nice to have one set of controls with few combos to learn. One thing I did notice while playing is that the game goes from really easy to pretty complex and challenging somewhat quickly. I wouldn’t call it hard, but the game definitely makes you have to think. It isn’t like a typical slash ’em and run through the level game. There is an order and a reason to most everything you have to do. It isn’t so complex that it leaves you wanting more freedom to just play around, because it provides plenty of opportunity to do that as well. One thing that the levels do allow for is extensive exploration. There are sewers and rooftops to explore, along with countless rooms and windows to enter. I just wish I could go into every door and every window, but that is just because the levels were so well presented. Another thing that I wish they would have implemented into the game is a destructive environment. There were trashcans I wanted to overturn and crates I wanted broken, but I know a girl can’t have everything she wants.

My mom always told me not to run with scissors

My one true complaint about the game is this: when you were on a ledge or up against a wall it was almost impossible to see where you were going because the camera was right above your head. But you could pull into first person view so it wasn’t too bad.

Overall, Voodoo Vince is one of the best games that I have played in a long time; truly the most unique concept for a game to come out in a very long time. Vince is one of the best characters I have ever seen in a game. Taking him through the levels in which he complains about the “obligatory boss battle” and other sarcastic comments truly adds to the game play experience. There are a variety of mini games stuck in there and you never really have to do the same thing twice. I would suggest picking it up and trying it out because the concept to it is so unique and the levels so intriguing. Just remember “never mess with a voodoo doll, poindexter!”

Movies that are based upon games are generally terrible. The same thing is generally true with movies turned game. This is due in part to the short amount of time you have to experience a movie as they generally don’t span more than about 2 hours. Most video games, on the other hand, tend to last significantly longer than that with a rare few hitting the 50-100 hour mark. With that in mind a developer named “The Collective” brought out a game titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer that did very well and was praised for its incredible 3rd person adventure engine. Lucas Arts must have been paying attention because they called on The Collective and that same engine to power their Xbox Indiana Jones game.

As a side note, I will admit that I never got to spend any time playing Buffy so I can’t judge how close the two are in terms of game play and graphics. I did spend quite a bit of time playing as Indy though. I also noticed that the general consensus of the review sites was that Buffy was a much better game than Indiana Jones. That being said, playing Buffy may or may not have influenced their take on Indy.

Most action/adventure games have similar controls that require only a minor learning curve. Indy was no exception, although even after extended play time I still kept goofing up the camera controls. I didn’t feel like the controls or Indy’s movements were flawless by any stretch of the imagination, but they are a definite improvement over most adventure games. My biggest annoyance in this regard was the camera (big surprise there). I felt like I couldn’t move the camera fast enough and it just didn’t seem intuitive to me. One last minor thing was that Indy’s jump annoyed me to no end. He can jump so far in the movie yet we have a pansy Indy that can barely make a 3 foot jump.

Individually, the graphics and sound of the game are nothing to write home about, but the overall “feel” of the game, in terms of how well the graphics and music blended together to create an Indy-esque environment, was great. They did a super job of capturing the essence of the Indy films. The fact that Indy can lose his hat while fighting was a great addition that didn’t go un-noticed. I was also pleasantly surprised that I could use my whip as a weapon. It is oh so gratifying to whip someone to death with Indy’s famous whip.

While I enjoyed playing Indiana Jones from the aspect of a big fan of the movies, as a gamer it just wasn’t enough. The game was better than a lot of action/adventure games and it actually made the transition from movie to game rather nicely, but it was still missing something. I would say part of it was a very uninteresting story compared to other games out there. The other part that the game was lacking was a feel of excitement. When I am Indy, I want to feel like there is a race going on to uncover a lost artifact or something along those lines. What I don’t want to do is wander around and beat up a few guys here and maybe 1 or 2 the
. I needed to feel like you did the first time Indy ran from the giant boulder, and the game just couldn’t deliver. But there was a slight problem there as well, Indy can’t run; he just walks fast.

As a whole, the game wasn’t bad. The game had some great things that have been missing in movie games in the past, but it seemed to greatly lack other key elements that would have made it a good or even great game. Lucas Arts has been doing games for a while now and it has been pretty hit or miss. This one I would file somewhere between hit and miss, but for the Indiana Jones fan, I would say this is a game you owe it to yourself to try out.

Another week has passed us bringing with it some fresh games, news and tidbits from our favorite industry. For some reason I spent a lot of this week in Pop Culture trivia. Why? I have no idea, however I have been reminiscing about many things that I should not know, yet I know a lot about. That’s neither here nor there, on with the week!

No work for you!

Tales from the horrid world of Corporate America saw lawsuits fly as former members of the Splinter Cell team for Ubi Soft left the company and signed with EA Montreal. While it has not been released as to why the five former developers fled Ubi Soft they are in fact suing for violation of the “non compete clause” in the contract. The clause stated that they cannot work for another development house in North America for a year after leaving the company. Personally I have come across this in real life. An internet company tried to get me to sign a Non Compete Clause Contract; I rose as fuss about it and never signed the paper. If you not familiar with what a Non Compete Clause, it hampers the employee from taking on work. This of course is a pain in the butt as it almost strips the employee of their ability to make a living, its total crap.

Nintendo Woes

Of course, as the “Frozen One” has been keeping a track on Nintendo, it has had its share of ill news as of late. Recently the price dropped on the Cube, again. This undoubtedly was done to try and sell more consoles. Developers are starting to feel the burn and have begun pulling titles from Nintendo. Atari has pulled Terminator 3 and Driver 3 from Gamecube, leaving two crap games that will never see the light of day on my beloved console. While these are certainly bad signs for Nintendo, they remain to have a loyal fan base and a library of first party games that continue to be big draws. When you have Mario on your team and control of the whole hand held market, you can afford to make a few mistakes.


Nintendo and Motorola revealed a new device for the Game Boy Advance SP. The new device will allow wireless game play between the Game Boys for multiplayer support. The new plug in allows up to five players to hook up and play each other. The plug in itself looks odd from pictures I have seen. Expect this new technology to be ready to be implemented in the next version of the Game Boy.


Electronic Arts and NASCAR have signed an exclusive deal that will have all NASCAR games be produced by EA exclusively for the next six years. That’s right, for all your beer swigging, speed freak fans out there, you are in good hands at least till 2009. By then who knows maybe they will implement a right turn in your beloved sport. The era of exclusivity continues. Good news, as EA makes great sports games, bad news as EA does not support Xbox Live anymore. If you want to race your pals via Live, get another game.

I would say it was a cool week. In SB news Pretz is geeking out of Call to Duty demo he has been playing. Then again the kid freaks out on just about anything. Cone has gotten his hands of Voodoo Vince and has been playing non stop with the Mrs. In my PS2 still sits Disgaea. So far that game could very well be the best game I have played in a long while. Even more so then Star Wars: KOTOR. See you all the next time my name gets pulled from the hat! Represent.

If there is one thing that I like more than a good video game it is a good movie. I would even go as far to call myself a movie buff. The definition of a movie buff, if us movie buffs are honest with ourselves, is this: a person who watches way too many movies and spends that much more time analyzing them, thus becoming a movie snob. Yes, shamefully, I will admit that I am a movie snob. I turn my nose up at any movie with the name Vin Diesel in the credits. I shudder at the thought of Steven Segal and Jean Claude Van Damme attempting to do the thing that others call acting. I just can’t help it. Really, I can’t. Let me explain…

Once upon a time when I was in high school (and actually this started way before then, but high school is as far back as I will go) I was an “actress.” I was put in the Senior Drama class when I was just a sophomore (the earliest point in which this could occur) and all was well. I was happy and I loved just about all movies. That was until Mr. Sweatmon, the theatre teacher, got a hold of me. We watched countless classic movies, pausing every fifteen minutes to discuss which famous millionaire actor was “indicating acting” or “forcing emotion.” I critiqued them all; James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Catherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, the list goes on and on. So, it was at this point when I became a movie snob. Once you critique the people you were brought up to respect as the pioneers of their medium, you can critique anyone. But enough of that…back to what we want to focus on here…video games and movies.

Every once in a while someone will come along and attempt to take a video game that we all enjoyed, like Super Mario Bros, and try to make it into a movie. And that is where I can’t help but ask “what were they thinking?” I have a bone to pick with a lot of movies and the people who write them…but to take a beloved classic video game and put someone like John Leguizamo as Luigi??? (alright, before I get killed by some John Leguizamo fan, Mr. Leguizamo has since proved himself to be a fine patron of the arts) I honestly don’t know what happens when people try to turn video games into movies. Do brain cells get lost in the process? Are the creators so out of it that they can’t see that the video game already has a storyline and characters? Why change what was already a good thing?

So here is where my little harebrained experiment comes into play. For the next couple of months I am going to do the unthinkable (well, previously unthinkable to me anyway) and I am going to watch the movies I so despise. I will put the movie snob in me aside and I am going to travel down the video game made into movie road with all of you. For each movie that I watch, I am first going to go back and play the video game (be it for the first time or for the millionth) that the movie is based on. The first up on my list is the first, the classic, Super Mario Bros. If you have any movie that you want to see compared to its video game counterpart, let me know. I am going to try to tackle them all, seeing as how there aren’t too many of them.

So the next time you hear from me, I will be up to my knees in cheesy movies and video games. So wish me luck, and kiss the movie snob in me good bye…well at least for a little while.

Next week: Mario and Luigi make their big screen debut!

Snowcone Note: The full review for Disgaea is now available.

What it is not:

Final Fantasy Tactics.

What it is:

Best damn strategy RPG I have ever played.

Pseudo review?

Yeah I am kind of very busy playing it right now. So a review will take a bit longer then expected. What YOU need to do is go out there and find this game where ever it is and play it. If you have never tried the strategy RPG genre before then this is the game to get hands down.

Did I mention?

This game rocks.