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Gex 64 : Enter the Gecko – Nintendo 64

Gex 64 : Enter the Gecko – Nintendo 64

gex 64 headerPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Publisher: Midway Games

Release Date (NA): February 24, 1998

Genre: Platformer

Nerd Rating:   out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Gex is one of those franchises that I’ve always known existed yet have never given the proper attention it deserves. This whole series was full of games that I’ve put in my consoles to play, but never stayed long enough to see what it’s all about. Somehow Gex managed to fly under the radar for many folks despite being one of the most recognizable video gaming characters of the 1990s! Despite being a now forgotten but once quasi-icon of 1990s gaming culture, I can only speculate that it is due to the extreme mediocrity surrounding its 3D titles. Gex 64 kicked off the bounce to 3D, so how well did it do?

Gex 64 : Enter the Gecko is the follow-up to the classic game Gex, the game that helped keep the 3DO relevant. gex 64 1Although Gex was a 3DO exclusive for only a short period of time, the titular character was almost instantly credited as the console’s mascot! Style and flare packed to the brim of this action platformer made Gex one cool cat, or gecko I should say. But Gex 64 introduced Gex to the 3D world, as was appropriate for the time. Gex 64 still has some of the style and flare, just with more polygons and “textures” and other quirky 3D concepts.

Before we get started with the review, let me just give you a brief summary on what exactly the Gex franchise stands for. Although my experience in the franchise is minimal, I probably do have more experience than most, being that I own copies for 3DO, Saturn, PlayStation, and Nintendo 64. I am missing a copy for Game Boy Color… But I’ll live. Crystal Dynamic wanted to cash in on the platfromer craze, so in 1994 they developed a unique platformer that was hip, cool, and edgy. The series as a whole is renowned for its humor and charm with relentless pop culture references and jokes. Humor is the secret ingredient in this chocolate platforming cake, and the developers knew it all along. They hired comedian Dana Gould to deliver Gex’s lines, a smooth move by the once-strong development company.

Enough of the chit-chat. Let’s get to the review!

gex 64 3

Story

Carrying over from the original Gex game, Gex finds himself in yet another battle with Rez, the lord of the media dimension or whatever. In an effort to stop Rez from taking over, he enters the media dimension and begins his quest to stop Rez once again! I find the story to be very bland and boring, and possibly “lazy.” More effort could have been put in to make this new Gex 64 story exclusive to just THIS game, but instead it feels like a case of the “same old.” The one good thing? The story is merely an obligatory facet of platforming video games as the game could easily function without one. So we shrug it off and keep on tailbouncin’.

Objective

The objective is to find all of the remotes needed to turn on the various TVs in the hub world, which will allow Gex to play in those levels and ultimately defeat Rez.

Concept

gex 64 2The concept here is sound. Humor, quirkiness, platforming, action, pop culture, etc. But the execution is a disappointment as I feel like I’m playing a generic version of Super Mario 64. Seriously! Playing Gex 64 is reminiscent to shopping for groceries at a gas station when the real grocery store is right down the road. Why would anyone play this when they could play Super Mario 64Gex 64 IS different, so don’t get me wrong, but it’s different in the way that a drunken scientist clones an animal; the replicated animal is alive and similar, but different and fucked up. Gex 64 is a fucked up Super Mario 64 clone.

Despite the obvious similarities such as both are 3D platformers, there are just way too many parallels for me to feel that Crystal Dynamics didn’t intentionally copy Mario’s 3D formula.

  • Gex must enter a TV to play a level.
    • Mario must enter a painting to play a level.
  • Gex must collect enough remote controls to enter a level.
    • Mario must collect enough stars to enter a level.
  • Each level of Gex 64 has a number of tasks to complete, such as finding 5 randomly placed purple mushrooms.
    • Each level of Super Mario 64 has a number of tasks to complete, such as finding 8 randomly placed red coins.
  • Gex is a Gecko and eats carrots.
    • Mario is a plumber and has a moustache.

Okay, so maybe I’m stretching it a little on that last one. But you see where I’m going with this. Gex 64‘s concept and design is far too similar to stand out as a unique title. If one can set aside their love for Mario and play Gex 64 objectively, there’s still some fun to be had here. It may be the fucked up clone of Mario, but it does feature some uncommon gameplay elements. All joking aside, the costumes, environments, and level themes are the lifeblood of this series, thus keeping the stages fresh and interesting.

Gameplay and Controls

The gameplay in Gex 64 isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, but there was vast room for improvement in the camera department. As in most 3D N64 games of the time, the C buttons control your camera movements. But that doesn’t make it good or intuitive. The default camera angles are mostly terrible and the camera controls are quite gex 5finicky. There will be many instances of the camera being ‘locked’ in a position that is not conducive to your maneuverability. This typically happens when Gex is up near a wall. The camera will face the wall, forcing Gex to blindly wander, often resulting in peril.

As with most games of the time, the camera directly ties into how the controls feel. These horrible camera controls make the action buttons feel clunky and awkward. If it were not for the challenging camera controls, I would probably feel very differently about the action controls. Gex has his standard arsenal of moves; jumping and bouncing from his tail, latching onto ledges with his tongue, pogo-bouncing on his tail, climbing walls, etc. These are the fun parts of Gex 64, giving you opportunity to explore the levels in a fun way!

Gex finds and puts on various suits in the various levels. Why? Because he is playing through different shows on different channels. For example, in one level, he puts on a space suit of sorts and kills aliens. He makes X-Files jokes about Samantha Mulder missing, and the music features some very obvious similarities to the X-Files theme song. Another scenario has Gex wearing a bunny suit and being hunted by an old man with a big gun, obviously drawing comparisons to Elmer Fudd.

Overall, the gameplay is a mixed bag and controlling Gex isn’t always the easiest thing, but both are serviceable. Everything about the gameplay is average at best. Gex 64 is a true platformer as the real challenge is getting from the lower part of the level to the higher parts via platforms. Depth perception and camera angles make it a very difficult task, but with some practice and plenty of patience, you’ll get a little better as you go!

Side note: Many of these levels remind me of a Chameleon Twist.

Graphics, Music, Sound

The graphics are far below what I would expect. While certainly not atrocious because I have definitely seen worse, they are not as good as they COULD be, that’s for sure. There’s no confusing what’s flat and what is raised, so reaching platforms is never a question of textures, polygons, animation, or graphics. The colors are decent, but they still have that faded non-vibrant appearance you find in most Nintendo 64 games. Everything looks dull and flat (in color), and all edges look soft. There are no real sharp lines in Gex 64, as was the case with nearly all Nintendo 64 games. Simply put, the graphics and color do very little to impress, but they are neither bad nor bland. Mediocre is the best word here.

gex 64 4The soundtrack is a mixed bag as well. While the compositions are above average, they are anything but lasting and catchy. In fact, I find most of the tunes to be pretty boring. They’re composed very well, but they’re just not very interesting. The best thing they have going for them is how each song is perfectly tailored for that specific level. As previously mentioned, there’s an X-Files-esque tune when Gex is killing the aliens, and there’s a damn good classic western tune when Gex enters the desert. I mean, it’s good and all, but you just won’t remember a single tune, even if you played the game over and over. Very forgettable.

Sound effects are cool. They’re not great. They’re not bad. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse.

Conclusion

Gex 64 : Enter the Gecko is an above average game that has me feeling very strange inside. I want to love this game. I want to love this little gecko. He’s a cool little lizard! The first game, man… The way he was leaning against the wall with his cool shades on… I tell ya. THAT made him badass. On the cover of Gex 64 he’s rockin’ the tux, a la James Bond. I can’t sit here and say that I’ve had a bad time playing this game. Most of my review might sound like I’m tearing it down, but I did have a decent amount of fun. It took me a LONG time to settle in, camera and controls being the major hurdle. But once I got settled in, I really started to dig the little guy, and his one liners were funny and perfectly timed, until he started repeating himself over and over! But anyway, moving on…

The witty and intelligent pop culture references may feel a little lost as they deliver a much smaller punch 18 years later, but every so often one hits the target for a quick chuckle. The series was a financial and critical success, but somehow never escaped the 1990s, destined to live on in legacy form only. I can’t understand why Gex disappeared, but he did. Gex 64 : Escape the Gecko is a worthy 3D platformer for Nintendo 64 fans. It won’t quite live up to your expectations after you’ve spent some time with Super Mario 64, but it does have its own little following for a reason. Neither awesome nor awful, Gex 64 fails to impress yet somehow manages to find its way into your heart.

Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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One Comment

  1. Awesome review, and I agree with the score!

    We should really do some digging, lol. Where DID Gex suddenly disappear to after the 90’s? I’ve always found him endearing and annoying at the same time. Miss the little guy.

     

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