An Epic Quest to Save (and Parody) Television
"A quest to save cable Television as we know it from the evil Rez." Sounds like a lame idea for a video game, right? Wrong.
In Gex: Enter the Gecko, you guide Gex (a James Bond-cool Gecko lizard) through different TV channels in order to find remote controls and make Rez disappear. Due to the game's many facets and close attention to details, this is one of the best games I have seen for the Playstation yet.
The game plays similar to Mario 64. You travel to different levels which get progressively more difficult. The different television stations (levels) you visit include the pre-history channel, Scream TV, Circuit Central, the Rocket Channel, Toon TV, Kung Foo Theater, and Rezopolis. Each station has 5 or six levels dedicated to it.
In each level, you need to earn anywhere from one to five remotes, which come in three different colors. There are 79 remotes in all. You earn red remotes for completing missions given to you at the beginning of the level. Also, by collecting red remotes you can open gates to new levels. You can earn a silver remote for picking up 120 of the items, which might include Chinese take out boxes in Kung Foo Theater or human skulls on Scream TV. There is also a silver remote hidden in each level, which you must find without hints (usually they take a few times through the level to find.) By collecting silver remotes, you can open bonus levels, which take place on new and different channels, like Dragnet and the Indiana Jones trilogy. In these levels you must collect items in a given time limit or defeat a boss to earn silver and gold remotes. Once you collect all the remotes in the game, you finally get to battle Rex and save TV. You can save your progress on a memory card or by password, but the passwords can be very lengthy.
The game features terrific 3-D graphics which make you feel like you're not just playing a video game, but also watching a cartoon. Although maneuvering in a 3-D world can take some getting used to if you've never done it before, once you do, it is well worth it. The game offers three camera choices - manual, semi-automatic, and automatic, so that you can choose whatever is comfortable for you.
The basic game controls are simple. One button jumps, one swings your tail for attacks, and the D pad moves you around. However, as you advance to the upper levels, you'll find it helpful to use some of the game's special moves: which include bouncing on your tail for higher jumps, karate kicking for better attacks, sticking to certain walls and ceilings, and catching the edge of a cliff with your tongue and pulling yourself up. The special moves take a little practice, but they're never too difficult in the end.
Sometimes, however, passing a level does not require maneuvering skills, but basic puzzle solving skills. For instance, you may need to hit a gong to open a secret door, or kill a certain enemy to make a set of steps appear. Also, many enemies can not be killed in the normal way; you must find they're specific weaknesses. This gives the game a sense of plot - you're not just killing bad guys in order to reach the end of the level, you're also problem solving along the way. It almost feels like you're in a movie. The game's bad guys, a diverse and comical group of characters ranging from Elmer Fudd to a team of ninjas to a Triceratops, act as your supporting cast.
What really sets Gex: Enter the Gecko apart from the rest of the pack, and truly makes you feel like you're watching a cartoon or movie, is the game's numerous references to pop culture. Gex delivers over 500 sarcastic one-liners, which always keep you laughing and interested. For example ,"Slip of the tongue, baby!" ( a line from Austin Powers), he'll shout as he catches a cliff by his tongue. As he looks around Toon TV, he comments "So this is what the world looks like through Keith Richard's eyes." I could qoute dozens of my favorites, but I'll let you discover the rest of his sarcastic wit playing the game.
Although you certainly will not understand every comment Gex makes, the one's you do get will always hit close to home. Thus, his comments prove much more entertaining than the generic likes of "That was a close one," or "Its me, Mario!" [yawn]. Some lines are directed at very specific groups, which sometimes makes you feel like they wrote the game specifically for you
In the end, Gex: Enter the Gecko, is plain and simple, a great game. It's easy to learn the basics, but always seems to present just the right amount of challenge. I would without a doubt recommend it to any player who enjoys both video games (why else are you reading this?) and American TV culture.