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Review - Gex

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:33 pm
by Trev
“Lock n’ load little lizard”

An animal platformer from the mid 90’s … what more do you need to know? Lots actually! ‘Gex’ offers the complete package as far as a 2d side scroller goes. It was a critical darling upon its release, and subsequently sold like hotcakes (hundreds of thousands of copies in print) Let’s find out what all the fuss was about …

As a generational leap from the Mario and Sonic games that dominated the early 90’s, ‘Gex’ wowed all with a truly next gen experience. It was clear that this was a game that couldn’t be done on a 16-bit console. Besides the 32-bit graphics which are very good (and Gex is terrifically animated), the audio package was truly a generation beyond. The music and sound effects are also both very good, but it was the sheer amount of speech that really caught player’s attention. Voiced by comedian Dana Gould, who was clearly having fun in the role, Gex quips many, many, one liners that besides taking great advantage of the cd medium, really flesh out his persona. Compared to most platformer leads, he is nearly bursting at the seams with personality! The one liners are funny, the references smart, and (best of all) they never get on your nerves. Rather, the compliment the action beautifully. :)

The action plays out over a variety of television themed worlds, of which Gex is attempting to escape (the slick intro lays the story groundwork, and the manual goes into even further detail for those curious). Spoofs or horror films, cartoons, and kung fu flicks are some of the highlights. Controlling Gex through these environments is also very good. Although there may be an occasional moment when Gex didn’t do what I wanted him to, 98% of the control is quick and easy. As for the remaining 2%, well I think it’s more than acceptable given the varied moves this lizard has.

That was one of the things that really helped Gex to feel different from the standard platforming fare, his control. Besides his tail whipping and tounge flicking, Gex has the ability to stick to nearly any surface. The game also has occasions to switch from 2d to top down views. The versatility of Gex proved quite fun, and won much deserved praise. It was nice to see Crystal Dynamics try to invigorate a genre that had grown stale and, perhaps even more so, bloated.

The aforementioned levels are really quite a good size, encouraging the player to give them a thorough going over to find bonuses like free lives, varied power ups (very cool) and secret areas (and there are plenty of all) They levels scroll both horizontally and vertically, and never feel like a chore to play through. I know additional levels were planned, but rather than mourn what’s not there, I appreciate that what did make it was smartly designed.

Some complained that ‘Gex’ was a bit too easy. While I agree that the potential for that certainly exists (again, free lives are readily available) I don’t think it really factors. The main reason I say that? Accessories!

Although it might be easy enough to get through a level from beginning to end, you’ll find that simply doing this won’t allow you to proceed. To open up additional levels and worlds you need to find remote controllers hidden throughout. You may find yourself near the levels exit, only to find that you lack the remote to proceed … time to go back and search more thoroughly! This adds to the challenge (and also is another unique feature of the game too)

Another accessory to keep an eye out for is the video tape. This is the device that allows you to save … and it isn’t available in every world. Needing to play through several levels before getting the option to save also adds to the challenge. (Ignore the manuals save description which is in error) Oh, and all those extra lives you might have accumulated? Gone when you save! Too easy indeed … the only way this is so is to play the game through in one sitting. If you want to play that way, than I guess the gripes may be justified. For the rest of us, I think ‘Gex’ offers a suitable challenge.

‘Gex’ proved to be quite popular … so much so that he became the pack in game during 3DO’s later life. This was a smart choice, as an update of a popular and familiar genre is more assured of success than some of the deeper but less familiar fare that 3DO was known for. ‘Gex’ was later straight ported to both the Playstation and Saturn, and he spawned a few sequels. The rumored M2 follow up wound up on the Psx where it was well received, but the series dipped in popularity after that. Many still consider the 3DO original to be the best.

One thing I want to mention is how this game was/is often compared to Nintendo’s ‘Donkey Kong Country’. Let me say that I enjoy ‘Gex‘ so much more than any of the games in the DKC trilogy. The latter I view less like platformers and more like aiming games with an over emphasis on shooting from barrel to barrel. Let me go on record (and infuriate SNES fans in the process … ‘Gex’ is better than DKC! :P

In fact, the more I think about it, I’d say that Gex was easily among the best platformers of its time (certaily the best original character) When I think of all the ones I played during the 3DO lifecycle (93’ – 96’) I’m hard pressed to come up with much better. Sonic, which had peaked with Sonic 2 & Sonic cd was starting to decline with the too close released Sonic 3 (93’) and Sonic & Knuckles (94’) for the Sega Genesis. ‘Vectorman’ (also for the Gen) was good, but not great, and it arrived at a time when Sega was putting their main efforts into the Saturn. ‘Tempo’ for Sega’s ill fated the 32Xadd-on was dull and clearly not A material. Pitfall which was a hyped multi-platform release was good, but too uneven in difficulty. Zool showed up with a sequel … and the same slippery control and kiddish graphics I still didn’t like (never a top tier character this ninja ant)

Comparing ‘Gex’ to platformers on graphically comparable consoles, Saturn’s ‘Clockwork Knight’ was far too run of the mill, and the multi-platform bound Rayman (although I do love it, and wish so much the 3DO version hadn’t been cancelled) adopted too many cheap platforming handicaps from the games of yesteryear. Rayman also isn't exactly known for his personality either.. Now before I get flooded with replies, yes, I know there are many other games I didn’t name. I either haven’t played them (yet), maybe have forgotten them, or maybe consider them too different (ex – ‘Super Metroid’ is more adventure to me) but please don’t reply with comments like “How could you say Gex is better than ___!” (Do feel free to though to suggest other good platformers that I may have overlooked)

A tough genre to evolve, but ‘Gex’ did more than admirably back in 95’. The game play enhancements in control and views nicely complimented the audio/visual leaps. Truthfully, I think I like this game even more now than during 3DO’s life cycle. I guess this means it’s aged realy well, which is always a nice thing (though not too common) for an older game. ‘Gex’ is easy to revisit for a fairly quick pick up and play bout, but it has more than enough for the player looking for more depth (Bonuses and codes a plenty!) 8)

One of 3DO’s all time bests, Gex is easily a must own and a must play! :D


Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 10:05 am
by Austin
This is a fantastic game that I unfortunately never got very far in (World 2 at the most, I think). I need to pick this one up again and finish it.

Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:55 pm
by totaku
)) I've got "not for resale" copy. I guess it is type of disk that has been bundled with the console. Am I right?
As for me, I finished the game with a long ending several times and tried all the hidden levels) But still there are some things that I haven't found. For example the 2-nd hidden game on the planet X level. What is it looks like? I could find only the game with the ball and flying squares at the top of the screen and "kill a programmer" game =D
Gex is one of my favourite games ever))

Posted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 6:48 am
by Austin
totaku wrote:)) I've got "not for resale" copy. I guess it is type of disk that has been bundled with the console. Am I right?
I'm pretty sure some of the FZ-10 units had Gex bundled, so yes, you are right. :)

Posted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:00 am
by Trev
totaku wrote:
)) I've got "not for resale" copy. I guess it is type of disk that has been bundled with the console. Am I right?

I'm pretty sure some of the FZ-10 units had Gex bundled, so yes, you are right.
Tucked in the middle of the review ... :wink:
‘Gex’ proved to be quite popular … so much so that he became the pack in game during 3DO’s later life.

Posted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:23 pm
by Panasonic3DO
Definitely one of the best games for the 3DO, and best platform game you will find here.

So many things to write about: colorful stages, the gameplay is very comfortable, nice sprites, challenging, a very charismatic character...a very nice final product by Crystal Dinamics.

One of the first games I had the chance to try, and honestly ranks among my top 5 3do games. Most people have already tried it, and it is definitely a must have for any 3do owner.

It beats the crap out of the Saturn, PC and PSX ports.

Posted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:02 am
by stienreys
The levels scroll both horizontally and vertically, and not ever feel like an agreement to play through. I know of several levels have been planned, but see what is not there, I understand that it is inconceivable that he was intelligent.

Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:03 am
by Rust
If you're really good, you can open the secret sci-fi world. The levels aren't as polished, but there are some very cool ones there, as well as secret alternate credits and a dev slideshow once you beat the game 100%.

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 4:28 am
by phatrat1982
I had this game on Playstation and it was one of the very few games that made me keep my stupid Playstation around for so long. If I ever get a 3DO this will be one of the first games I get. I heard the Saturn version was better but after I sold my Saturn I swore I would never own another as long as I live.

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 4:31 am
by Austin
phatrat1982 wrote:I heard the Saturn version was better but after I sold my Saturn I swore I would never own another as long as I live.
Most people here will tell you otherwise. :)

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:23 am
by phatrat1982
yeah I would imagine so. I used to frequent a sega board and a nintendo board and it was funny how on the one board Saturn was talked about as the greatest console everybody should own and the other it was laughed at day in and day out.

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:10 am
by Trev
Actually, I think 3DOExp mentioned in a fairly recent thread that the Saturn version was the best too.