Windows - 1997
Also released on: Windows 3.x
Description of VooDoo Kid
Supposing that one day, perhaps while cleaning out your attic, or looking around a bookstore, you came across a dusty, unusually bound book, filled with barely readable, almost mystical writing - perhaps with an skull motif on the cover. Would you read it? I would - just for curiosity's sake, you understand. But your average horror movie character wouldn't stop at that. The laws of horror require that any character, upon finding a dusty book, not only read the book, but read it out loud - clearly enunciating every single demon-summoning word. Because in the movies, old books are never old copies of 'The Famous Five die horribly', or 'Spot the Dog' . They're always comprehensive guides to summoning up nightmarish creatures and terrors from beyond the grave. Reciting a single arcane word from one such tome is effectively inviting every demon in the netherworlds to come and have a go if they think they're hard enough. Demonic slaughter ahoy!
The hero of Infogrames' Voodoo Kid makes just such a mistake, reading aloud a passage from a pirate book he finds. He falls asleep, and wakes up on a possessed pirate ship, under the command of the evil Baron Saturday. The Baron is a particularly unfriendly bloke, with a strangely tubular head, and a noticeable lack of hair. He's also turned the entire crew of his ship into zombies, and is sailing the ship straight towards Hell. And that's not generally a good thing, so it's up to you to defeat him and free the lost souls he has ensnared. But you can't just wander up to him and kick his decomposing head in - you have to make your way upwards from the bottom of the ship, solving various puzzles as you go along. Sound familiar?
It should, because Voodoo Kid is a point and click adventure in the Monkey Island mould - in fact, the whole zombie pirate scenario also crops up in Monkey Island. Aside from the kid, who you play, the main characters in the game are the Baron himself, and his butler. The Baron is typically nasty, cropping up every now again to taunt you. A typical taunt is 'Let's eat his spirit. I'm a little bit hungry'. Hmm - it doesn't have quite the same ring as 'We'll tear your soul apart'. Perhaps it lost something in translation. The butler is a little friendlier, offering helpful advice to you, and occasionally getting stuck behind doors. Voodoo Kid is aimed at the younger gamer - the puzzles are pretty easy, and a hint sheet is supplied, which lists the correct uses for objects - so it's unlikely that even Little Johnny will be stuck for too long.
The puzzles themselves come in three flavours - aside from the usual 'take this object and use it on this object' variety, you also to have to complete logic puzzles, and prove your arcade skills in the odd shooting gallery sequence. But none of them are very hard. There are about twenty rooms between you and Baron Saturday, and you can't progress to the next room once you've picked up all the objects you need from that room, and complete whatever puzzles lie within. It means that you'll never find yourself in a situation where you don't have the right object, and while you can go back to previous rooms, you never have to. Unfortunately, you're not told that in the manual, but take my word for it, you won't have to backtrack ten rooms to pick up some item you missed. Which certainly reduces the frustration factor, as far as younger gamers are concerned.
Voodoo Kid's graphics are fairly impressive - they're of the 3D studio rendered variety, and the characters don't look at all plasticy or artificial, as some rendered characters do. The animation is excellent, and the backgrounds look equally superb. What is puzzling is the fact that the voice-overs are all done by American voice-actors. Infogrames is a French software company, and sure enough, a quick look through the credits reveals that most of the people involved with Voodoo Kid were French. Yet as far as the game's characters go, there's an abnormally high Yank contingent. The main character is American, and while the voice-over artists have had a decent crack at putting on piratey voices, the pirate characters sound American in places. It wouldn't be so bad if they sounded like that all the way through, but you can be listening to a pirate speak, and suddenly a definite American accent will slip through. It's quite weird to listen to.
Aside from the voice-over thing, there's another problem with Voodoo Kid. It's just too short, especially for the asking price - I can't imagine your average twelve year old (the age group this game is probably most suited to) taking too long to complete this. You can choose to play as a girl or a boy, but the game is the same whichever character you choose. I can't think where the '60 SoftImage generated backdrops' mentioned on the back of the box have got to. If you can pick this fairly cheaply, perhaps for about twenty quid or so, it's worth picking up to keep the kids busy - it's certainly fun to play. But as it stands, there just isn't enough game there to make it worth buying.
Review By GamesDomain
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