Home > Chronological Challenge > Chronological Challenge – Gex 3D

Chronological Challenge – Gex 3D

January 12, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Hello again! Hope you liked yesterday’s review. Today’s a little different, as we get the first of 1998’s many 3D platformers, and possibly the most painfully average of them all. Enjoy!

Gex 3D: Enter The Gecko
Publisher: BMG Interactive | Developer: Crystal Dynamics | Year: 1998
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (original PS1 disc)

Goal: See how far I can get in a single sitting

Actual Outcome: I honestly can’t remember!

I have no idea why this is still in my collection.

I mentioned that back in the day I loved playing games based on cartoons, and this went a little further – I was the one who went for all those cheesy mascot games back in the 90s. Every developer had an “edgy” cartoon animal mascot (except Nintendo, whose fat plumber served them just fine), and this was Crystal Dynamics’ attempt to create their own. Yes, that Crystal Dynamics. The ones who make Tomb Raider now.

Gex is a gecko. He can crawl on walls, he eats flies to restore his health and attacks with his tail. Oh, and he had to be edgy and cool, so they made him wisecrack, often about sex (GASP!), and set him in a world that expresses his obsession with pop culture. And so starts a game where every level is a pop culture reference, and our protagonist frequently quips on the world around him.

Now, I have no objection to wise-cracking protagonists. My favourite moments of the Uncharted series are when Nathan Drake taunts his enemies with jokes or sarcastically complains about how terrible his luck is. The thing is, those taunts are typically in response to something. They have context. They make sense. Gex’s problem is that all of his wisecracks are just…tossed out there. His jokes are on a timer and a random number generator, meaning that he never shuts up, and his lines are often bafflingly terrible.

And this is the main problem with the Gex games. While he may be voiced by veteran actor Leslie Phillips in the UK version of the game I’m used to, it doesn’t hide that fact that yelling out “Here’s Gexy!” at random in a horror-themed level doesn’t make the supposed joke actually funny. Now imagine hearing similar lines every few seconds. Now imagine that those lines randomly loop. Imagine hearing “it’s tail time!” every other time you hit an enemy. That is the hell that is Enter the Gecko – listening to an aging actor who should know better shouting barely relevant pop culture lines at you over and over until the heat death of the universe.

In terms of gameplay, Gex 3D is your standard 3D platformer with its structure shamelessly stolen from Super Mario 64. The game takes place in a hub world that leads you to levels that you can play in any order, but the choice is limited until you collect certain numbers of trinkets, obtained through completing specific objectives within the levels. So far, so predictable. And…it does little else.

The levels themselves are a mish-mash of pop culture references – your starting levels are a choice between a Looney-Tunes-esque cartoon world and a horror land with more than a few passing nods to Child’s Play, Friday the 13th and The Exorcist. The problem with this mixture of styles is that Gex often has no identity of its own. Its identity is memes. Memes before memes existed. Other 3D platformer collect-a-thons of the era have an overarching identity – Mario’s weird Mushroom Kingdom aesthetic, Banjo-Kazooie’s wacky googly-eyed theme, Spyro’s mystical fantasy world feel – but Gex is basically “we watch too much TV help” and it’s all over the place as a result.

In terms of gameplay, Gex is a slight step above its fellow average 90s platformer. It’s competent, and Gex himself handles decently. The camera likes to throw a fit every other second, but otherwise, it holds together. But sadly, merely competent is not really enough when so many better games came out in its genre around the same time.

So, basically, Gex: Enter the Gecko is an also-ran. It’s an obnoxious nerd in its design and an all-round shade of beige on a technical level. It’s easy to see why he didn’t last long.

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