My tail's gonna kick your butt!
Let me start off by just making a simple observation on Nintendo 64 games in general. Is it just me or is everyone else starting to tire of the "64" tag attached to every other game out for the system? How about "YoMomma 64"? Yes, we know it's a 64 bit system already. Quit shoving it down our throats. That aside, let's get down to the nitty gritty on Gex 64: Enter the Gecko.
Our hero, Gex, burned out from being in the media spotlight after his last adventure, has retired to Maui (yea!) with his most trusted companion, a big screen TV. However, Gex's arch-enemy Rez is at it again and this time he's after the world's television channels. With some fancy new duds at his disposal (as well as a few new moves), Gex starts off on his adventure to save TV.
The game plays very similar other platformers. You basically run around looking for red remote controls, which eventually open up new levels. You can do these levels in any order you wish and it is possible to access a new group of levels without having finished the previous ones. This makes the gameplay varied and refreshing; you can move on to other areas if you find yourself stumped on a particular level. There are also bonus mini-levels that provide a change of pace from the adventure portion of the game. Usually, the bonus levels require you to collect objects within a specified time. However, others have you fight "bosses" and figuring out the "trick" that kills them.
Levels all have particular themes such as The Rocket Channel, Toon TV, and Kung-Fu Theater (my personal favorite). Aside from finding remote controls, Gex can also collect icons for extra lives. Three different icons appear in each level matching that level's theme. For example, on Scream TV, Gex starts off collecting skulls, then tombstones, and finally Jason-style hockey masks. He also gets some fancy new threads on certain levels, ranging from a spacesuit or a pink bunny costume to a police uniform. Idle-time graphics also change with each area and you can watch (or laugh) as Gex goes through a few kung-fu moves or whips out his lightsaber.
Gameplay in Gex64 is fun and rewarding. Some jumps can be challenging, but are generally easy to pull off. More often than not, falling does not spell instant death; you will instead end up at an earlier part of the level. For the most part, gameplayers can move through the various levels at a good pace. Some areas can be tough, but not so frustratingly difficult that you're mumbling about shooting the programmer that put you in this torturous hell. The best aspect of Gex is that you're never stuck doing one thing for too long.
Intriguingly, Gex64offers gamers a choice of three different camera options; manual, semi-auto, and full-auto. This seems a little wishy-washy to me since at certain times the computer always takes over control of the camera. Angles tend to lean toward the bizarre side, but rather than polish the camera code, the developers actually made it part of the puzzles in the game. At times, the camera is fixed (even on full-manual) and what would have otherwise been an easy jump suddenly becomes very challenging. I still can't decide whether this is cool or annoying. Sudden changes in camera angles as well as its general slowness and stupidity contribute to some very annoying control problems.
The graphics are pretty cool, but nothing spectacular stands out. There's also a lot of darkness and pop-up in the game which makes it difficult to anticipate what's ahead of you at times. Foggy graphics and darkness are fine for N64's first-generation as well as Playstation games, but I'm starting to set my expectations a little higher for the newer titles and Gex64 can't quite deliver.
As expected, Gex's speech is severely limited from his Playstation counterpart. However, comedian Dana Gould's voice-overs still achieve the same purpose - generating a few chuckles while at the same time giving Gex an attitude to separate him from other "cute- enough-to-make-you-retch" mascots. Music in the game parodies famous television and movie themes. They're not the exact tunes, but close enough to the original without infringing on any copyrights.
Although Gex64 can get repetitive and frustrating in places, there's enough originality in this game to pull out a chuckle or two, make you say, "Oh yeah, I remember that TV show!" and most importantly to keep you entertained for a while.