GEX 64: Enter the Gecko (N64)
GEX, Crystal Dynamics' unlikely hero, holds a special place in the video game world. For one, it is a rare instance in which a mascot from a small third-party company is well known. But maybe even more important is that GEX is one of less than a handful of video games that appeals equally to boys and girls. After making his first appearance as a 2D side-scroller on the 3DO, GEX soon made a jump to the PlayStation, and then entered a 3D world in his second game. That second game, GEX: Enter the Gecko, is now the latest 3D action/adventure game for the king of that genre, Nintendo 64. Although it's not up to the standards set by Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, and even though it's not as good as the PlayStation version, GEX 64: Enter the Gecko for the N64 is nevertheless a fun game that will appeal to kids the most.
As you can imagine, GEX 64: Enter the Gecko is a 3D game in the same vein as Super Mario 64. There are over 25 levels in the game -- some of which are large and some of which are quite short. Inside each level there are one, two, or three stages. The object in each stage is to collect a red remote. The game gives you a hint as how to acquire it. Maybe you just have to work your way through and find it. Or maybe you have to complete a task such as destroying a certain number of things. The gameplay variety and fun factor aren't as high as Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, though. There are also secondary objectives of collecting items and of finding other colored remotes for bonuses.
The control in GEX 64: Enter the Gecko definitely could have been a lot better. It's too loose and not precise enough. Strangely enough, you have your choice between using the Control Pad and the Control Stick -- in a 3D game, no less! Try and use the Control Pad to see how much analog helps in 3D games. The A button jumps, and you can get a higher jump by tapping A and then holding it down. The B button is a tail whip, your main method of attack. The R button sticks out your tongue to eat flies. The Z trigger, when used in conjunction with a running jump, is a karate kick. Finally, the C buttons are for camera control. You can stop and look around the environment by holding the Top C button.
As hard as it may be to believe, GEX 64: Enter the Gecko doesn't look as good as the PSX version. First, the camera isn't very intelligent. You'll constantly be battling it, more so than any other N64 game. Second, there is quite a bit of fog in the background, and it still doesn't even cover all the pop-up. Third, there is so much clipping it's not even funny. Fourth, the graphics seem lower-res and more fuzzy than on the PlayStation. Fifth, there are quite a few graphic omissions if you're familiar with the PSX version. Sixth, the game is noticeably choppy in its scrolling. A combination of the jerky camera and the choppy scrolling actually gave me motion sickness and a headache for the first time. So is there anything good about the graphics? Well, there really is a lot of variety in the levels, and GEX has different outfits for them, too. The animation isn't bad, either.
Sound, or voices, more accurately, has always been one of GEX's strong suites. Fortunately, a lot of GEX's one-liners (which are more geared toward adults rather than the kids who mostly play the game) made it across the port and they sound nice and clear, too. On the downside, for all the voice that is included, there are that many more samples excluded from the N64 version. This also means the quips wear thin quickly. The music in GEX 64: Enter the Gecko tries to fit the theme of each level and does a good job.
Yes, GEX 64: Enter the Gecko on the N64 is inferior to the PSX version, but it's far from being bad. Besides, those who want the game probably either never played the PSX game or played it very briefly. In that case, GEX 64: Enter the Gecko will seem perfectly fine. If you're not tired of 3D action/adventure games, make sure you give it a shot, as it has some truly fabulous level design. But don't expect a game on par with Banjo-Kazooie. GEX 64: Enter the Gecko is just a fun game that's great for kids.
Graphics: 3.7 out of 5
Sound: 3.8 out of 5
Control: 3.4 out of 5
Gameplay: 3.9 out of 5
Replay Value: 2.9 out of 5
Overall: 3.6 out of 5