Gex: Enter the Gecko Review

Title: Gex: Enter the Gecko
Developer: Square Enix / Crystal Dynamics
Game Type: PlayStation Classic
Download:  145 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Digital Download, Direct Download

Back in the 1990s, there was a trend of games going on that spawned from what is considered one of Nintendo’s greatest creations, Super Mario 64.  This game set into stone the standards of 3D Platformers and the world-based platforming games.  Pitting a character inside different worlds to complete tasks and collect objects that allowed you to traverse further into the game and having the trend repeat until they’d reached the Final Boss of the game.  It spawned many similar games from different developers, such as Banjo-Kazooie, Spyro the Dragon, and more.

Crystal Dynamics, now the developer behind the Tomb Raider series, joined in this craze and started whipping out games in the “Gex” series.  Gex was a bipedal, talking gecko whom loved to watch TV and fought against Rez, a villain that wished to control the population through their television sets.  The game spawned a trilogy on the PlayStation, and two of its games also released on the Nintendo 64.  It started as a 2D game, but quickly became 3D.

Gex: Enter the Gecko is the first 3D game of the Gex franchise and, until recently, wasn’t available on the PlayStation Network for play on the PlayStation Vita, along with PS3 and PSP.  About two weeks ago, Sony finally put Gex: Enter the Gecko on the North America PlayStation Store for download.  How does it play now that it’s on the network?  Let’s find out.  Here is our official review of the PlayStation Classic, Gex: Enter the Gecko.

Story

This story takes some time after the original Gex.  Previously, Gex entered a realm known as The Media Dimension to stop a robotic villain known as Rez from controlling the population through their television sets and deciding what people are and are not allowed to watch.  Gex then retired to a Maui resort to rest after adventuring and, most importantly, watching TV.  At some point, all the channels become the same and Gex sees Rez pop up on one of the television sets.

Shortly after, he is taken to an interrogation room by two government agents and, after a long and very sarcastic conversation, they bribe him into re-entering the Media Dimension to put a stop to Rez’s new plans of control and conquest through Television.  And so, Gex re-enters the dimension as well as all of the different Channel Worlds to put a stop to Rez.

The story of this game is really on a low and non-emphasized point.  The intro for the game, before you even get to the Start Menu Screen, shows you the scenes for that plotline.  Once you start the game you, essentially, don’t hear much else from the story until you’ve finished it to the very end and defeated the Final Boss of the game.

It sets the stage for what you have to do, but isn’t very deep or involved as you play through the game.

Gameplay

Gex: Enter the Gecko is a 3D Platforming Action game.  As such, you will traversing many 3D environments, known as Channel Worlds, as you go and search for various items and collectibles to progress the game.  As you do this, you will also be avoiding traps and defeating enemies and bosses that you come across, as you are on your journey.

The game is set in a normal “hub”, where you have different television sets you can use to enter the worlds.  Imagine this like traversing through Peach’s Castle in Super Mario 64 or traveling through the realms in the Spyro the Dragon games.  When you first start, there will be a few worlds open to you right away, with some that haven’t been enabled yet as well as gateways to other areas that are also shut and locked tight.

Each 3D, open world is set up as a TV channel and parodies media entertainment from the real world.  There are many different types of Channel Worlds and variations of those, such as Toon TV, Scream TV, Rocket Channel, Circuit Central, Pre-History Channel, Kung Fu Theater, and more.  Each of these variations has names that parody entertainment like “Poltergex” parodying the horror film, Poltergeist, and Gexzilla vs MechaRex parodying the Toho movie Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla.  As you go through, Gex will also constantly quote and parody entertainment and celebrities.  Thirdly, it goes out of the way to give Gex a themed costume for each world type, like a Rabbit costume in the Toon TV world and a Stormtrooper Uniform in the Rocket Channel.  This makes playing the game very entertaining, just from hearing the dialogue and the parody worlds.

The key to progressing through the game is to collect Remote Controls within each Channel World.  Each world you go into will have three Red Remotes for you to collect by completing certain tasks.  They make it easy to collect these as when you select a certain task, it shows you a cinematic view of where the remote is, so you know if you’re close to it or not as you are traveling through that world.  Collecting these will unlock future worlds to enable you to get more Red Remotes or to confront a Boss to unlock a gate.  Some gates also unlock when you have a certain number of Red Remotes.

There are also two hidden Silver Remotes in each level to obtain that unlock secret, Bonus worlds.  The Silver Remotes aren’t laid out and there are two in each world.  One is collected by getting the 120 collectible items you see throughout the world.  The other is hidden and you are on your own to find its hidden location.

There are 15 worlds total, not counting bonus and bosses, and 5 remotes in each of these.  Traversing each of these will let this game last you a good while.  If you can get into the gameplay, getting through the game can easily last you several hours, if not more.  If you want to go for 100%, expect the game to take at least 10-15 hours.

Controls

This game’s controls are probably the biggest issue that I have with the game.  This isn’t because of it controlling badly, but mostly because of how it is set up on the Vita.  When Gex: Enter the Gecko was on the PlayStation, it used a lot of the buttons on the PlayStation Controller.  Most notably is the fact that it used L1, L2, R1, and R2.  These were used for various things, like controlling the game’s camera and enabling the long, karate kick.  The Vita, however, doesn’t have L2 and R2.

The big problem is trying to figure out what you want on the Touch Screen.  The button control for the Karate Kick has to be held down while you’re moving and pressing the Jump Button (X).  So, there aren’t many buttons other than the L or R button that can comfortably be held while moving and jumping.  So, that leaves the camera controls to be used with the touch screen.  This is a little awkward, but it can be made to work.

Controlling the game is done with most of the buttons on the system.  Other than the camera and Crouch/Karate Kick controls, you will use most of the buttons on the system.  The left Analog Stick can be set with the D-Pad for movement on the ground and on sticky walls.  Start brings up the menu.  The face buttons have various features.  The X button is used to jump and you can press the X button while in the air to do a tail smash on the ground to hurt enemies.  The Square button is used for a spinning tail attack while on the ground.  The triangle button is used to center the camera, and the Circle button is used to eat flies which recovers health or gives you a temporary powerup.

Presentation

As far as presentation goes, Gex is a colorful adventure.  Each world has its own set of colors and use of a variety of different environments and atmospheres that the different worlds do feel like different genres, as the game is designed to seem to be.  You can jump from the Looney Tunes-like Toon TV worlds and jump into the Star Wars-like Rocket Channel and feel like everything is completely different with the feel and the environments.  They also did a nice job with the music of the game, some of them sounding like parodies of the music from media they’re parodying.

The game plays well, but there is one big feature holding the game back, the camera.  The game’s camera will bring down the enjoyment of the experience.  I found several instances where the camera got stuck on various walls and environments and I couldn’t see in front of me.  That took the time of movie and manually moving the camera around as the walls were keeping the automatic camera center feature from working.

Overall

All in all, Gex: Enter the Gecko is a blast from the past that has a lot of fun parodies of almost any popular media show or movie that you may care to think of, from Star Wars to Hellraiser to Godzilla.  There are many control and camera issues that bring the game down but, if you can learn to deal with the technical problems of using it on the Vita, it’s still a fun platformer filled with one-liners.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Gex: Enter the Gecko a 7/10. 

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