There's something incredibly fun and full of life about Voodoo, or at least the pop-culture depiction of it. For an approximation of a religion that features zombies, death magic and the afterlife the festival atmosphere is palpable. Voodoo Kid (1997, Infogrames) puts that fictionalised framework into a traditional point-and-click adventure with a 'scary tale' of a pre-teen having a particularly spooky sea-bound nightmare.
I mention the public perception of Voodoo because Voodoo Kid does very little to squash that stereotype, despite offering some misused terms in the documentation. Zombies, which are heavily featured here, play no part in Voodun culture, even though a very different depiction is entrenched in Haitian folklore. Voodoo Dolls are a concoction of New Orlean's own magic-heavy variant called Hoodoo. Even the loa trinkets found in the game have no bearing on what they really are. The game uses them as an item that separates the soul from the body, while in the religion it is simply another word for a saint, the most famous being Baron Samedi, loa of the dead.
The first puzzle is indicative of the ease of the rest of the game (left). After completing
certain tasks, you'll get more pieces of the map needed to complete the game (right)
In the game, Baron Samedi is referred to as Baron Saturday, a literal translation of the name. Here, he has turned the crew of a ship into zombies and has set a course to the Island of Lost Souls and it's up to you, a dreaming child transported to the vessel, to scupper his plans. Along the way, a zombie butler aids you by giving clues and directions in a bid to free himself, but he can hinder as much as he can help.
There's a nice tongue-in-cheek tone to the game, which is probably a good thing as it's aimed at the same young age-group as our protagonist. I occasionally get some sub-Monkey Island vibes (the Baron took obvious inspiration from LeChuck) which is always a good thing, though I can't say there are many laugh-out-loud moments. Any sniggers that may come your way would most likely be down to some clever sight gags hidden in the background; anachronistic sneakers are found in treasure chests or the entirety of the zombie sleeping quarters decked out like your average moody teen's bedroom, complete with a neglected Christmas tree.
The puzzles are mostly inventory-based, with the odd easily-solved contraption or mini-game thrown in for good measure. You access your inventory bu clicking on the backpack at the top of the screen. The main menu can also be found here, as well as a map. The main goal is to complete this map which will take you and the lost zombie souls back to where they came from. You will be given pieces as you aid other characters, piecing them together like a jigsaw as you go.
The quality of mini-games vary. Here, you'll be stomping a specific number of
cockroaches with a shoe (left) or shooting zombies on the poop deck (right)
Most of the time, anything you need can be found in the room that you need them in which leaves little room for backtracking or exploration making progression seems very episodic and linear. The ease is to the game's detriment, offering little for seasoned adventurers to sink their teeth into. Even the story is slight with no meat on its bones.
What does shine, however, is the presentation. The visual style has that mid-90s pre-rendered CGI sheen which can be hit or miss but is mostly the former here. I'd definitely prefer the hand-drawn style depicted on the appealing cover art, but other than the ugly render of the main character, it's still pretty darn good. As is the voice acting. Our main hero has two different avatars - a boy and a girl - each portrayed fairly decently but the ancillary characters are where it's at. They can give any perfunctory line a dose of personality befitting of such a stylised game. It's very well done.
So, if you're up for some fun Voodoo tomfoolery, Voodoo Kid is the place to get it. It may be easy, short and aimed at kids, but it bestows a polished charm that may be just the ticket. A non-threatening Halloween treat.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Manual, Ship's Log & Voodoo Dictionary included. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 581 Mb. Install Size: 844 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Voodoo Kid is © Infogrames
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me