If you know anything about me and video-games and how we mix, you know I have a sweet-spot for the horror genre, and, then, for some reason, light-heart and silly mascot video-games. Titles like Crash Bandicoot and Ratchet & Clank were always my bread and butter as a kid, and since entries in their respective series’ have become scarcer, as is the case with Sly Cooper or Spyro, I’ve taken it upon myself to try and find other mascot video-games I might have missed over the years. The Gex series is one I am modestly familiar with. Although I don’t know for certain, I want to say I owned the third installment Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko for the Original PlayStation as a kid, but it was so badly scratched up I don’t think I ever played through a significant amount. Going into it, I expected a light-heart, simple plat-former. I didn’t expect a groundbreaking experience, but I expected something that would satiate and scratch a similar itch as other video-games like it had.
Although, even at this stage of the game, a side-scrolling plat-former (unlike its successors) felt like a dated throwback (I love side-scrollers, personally), I found that it had charm in its playability. I’ve heard some criticisms citing the game-play as generic or lacking innovation, a sentiment I will partially admit its fault for, but I also think it’s smooth, effective, but familiar execution is helped by Gex’s climbing ability and that it has its moments as an enjoyable plat-forming experience. The only criticisms I really have in-terms of the actual game-play is that I think the jumping mechanics could’ve been a little more polished. I had some occurrences where I would be charging forward to build momentum for a far jump only to have Gex fall off the ledge with nothing I could do to save myself, because I didn’t jump soon enough. I also think the difficulty had a sharp increase in the last couple of levels, something I’m usually again. I understand the idea of wanting the last levels to feel like a real challenging accomplishment, but I prefer a balanced consistence throughout.
The settings for the levels feel competent and enjoyable. I can’t necessarily single-out any in-particular as memorable or distinctively great, but I always get a certain kick out of Halloween or horror themed levels in plat-formers like this.
In the end, what I found to be the biggest problem with Gex, however, and it is a problem I think is pertinent to my overall conclusion over the experience altogether: is Gex and his sense of humor. As it stands, Gex delivers a competent side-scroller that can stand on its own and do so admirably, but it also differentiates itself as a parody and comedy experience. The issue with that is that the humor (dated or not) lacks but is at the forefront so often with so little. It isn’t without one or two zingers, but, ultimately, Gex’s humor is more about referencing popular culture and hoping that the familiarity will be mistaken as a joke, even when it isn’t. Having Gex quote his favorite lines from Scooby Doo or Rocky isn’t a joke, it’s quoting lines from something else and that’s all. This wouldn’t be so damning for Gex, if it wasn’t for how he constantly spouts the same lines again and again. I found myself preferring to mute the television and listen to music while I played, kept myself from too much hair loss.
I think I would say that Gex mostly fulfilled the expectations I had for it. An experience I was able to wrap up in about four-hours, it’s a simple, and mostly laidback, casual side-scroller, but one that also benefits from a solid execution. The annoyance of its dialogue and humor bogs it down, however, I would say it’s worth checking out for those who are interested in the genre.