|Gex: Enter the Gecko|
|Platform(s)||PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Microsoft Windows, Game Boy Color|
Gex: Enter the Gecko[b] is a platform game and the second installment of the Gex video game series, released in 1998 and 1999 for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Microsoft Windows, and Game Boy Color. Its protagonist, Gex, a TV-binging, wisecracking gecko, is voiced by Dana Gould in the North American version, Leslie Phillips in the European release, and Mitsuo Senda in the Japanese release. Gex seeks to collect three types of remotes to unlock different TVs in the overworld that aid in the fight against his arch-nemesis, Rez.
After creating the original Gex, which released for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, PC, Sega Saturn, and PlayStation in 1995, developer Crystal Dynamics sought a sequel in the form of a 3D platform video game in the style of Super Mario 64. The Gex model was rebuilt with this perspective in mind, and much of the game's humor was inspired by Fox's animated television series The Simpsons, on which script writer Rob Cohen had previously worked as a writer. Hundreds of voice-overs were recorded for the character Gex, but hardware constraints forced the Nintendo 64 version of the game to include only around one hundred samples. The Nintendo 64 release, due to hardware limitations, features six fewer levels than its PlayStation counterpart, but the release also includes one exclusive level, "Gecques Cousteau".
Critical reception of Gex: Enter the Gecko was mostly positive. Critics' main concerns centered on the game's camera, graphics, low-polygon enemies, and simplicity. The game was followed by 1999's Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, which released on the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy Color.
On July 12, 2023, Limited Run Games announced Gex Trilogy, a compilation release of all three games emulated through Limited Run's Carbon Engine. The compilation will be released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S.
Enter the Gecko, the first 3D platform game in the Gex franchise, allows the player to choose from three camera control options: automatic, semi-automatic, and manual. The player controls Gex (voiced by comedian Dana Gould in the North American release, Leslie Phillips in the European release, and Mitsuo Senda in the Japanese release), who has spent much of his time watching television. His dialogue consists of references to popular culture from the late 1980s and 1990s, usually spoken when he enters a level, attacks, dies, or collects items. Dialogue and scenes were heavily cut for the Nintendo 64 version due to hardware limitations.
Gex's move set includes a tail whip attack, a tail bounce, and a flying karate kick. His ability to climb certain walls and ceilings is a quality borrowed from the real-life gecko on which Gex is based. Gex may use his tail whip around levels to break small TV sets that contain different colored flies, which, when consumed, can add an extra health point, add an extra life, temporarily unlock additional moves, or mark a checkpoint in the level if the player runs out of health. Specific stages can require Gex to collect power-ups to move throughout the level or to just stay alive, as is the case with the outer space stages in which Gex must collect oxygen for his astronaut suit. While the majority of enemies can be defeated using Gex's move set, others can only be eliminated when Gex manipulates objects or machinery around him. For example, a dragon in a Kung Fu level early in the game can only be slain after Gex targets it with a cannon.
TV sets in the game's hub world act as entry points to different stages, which parody popular culture, such as Looney Tunes and Star Wars. Excluding bonus stages, each level has a set number of red remotes for Gex to collect along with silver remotes, which are awarded for collecting 120 collectibles or discovering a hidden secret. Red remotes can be collected after standing on the green button in front of in-world television screens after completing level-specific objectives, which can be completed in any order regardless of which one is chosen on the level screen. Collecting red and silver remotes unlocks new areas in the hub world along with bonus and boss levels, which reward a gold remote upon completion. Collecting all available remotes (39 red, 28 silver and 12 gold) unlocks a special ending showcasing the game's concept art.
Nintendo 64 version
The Nintendo 64 version, titled Gex 64, features "Gecques Cousteau", a new level centered on the RMS Titanic and played almost entirely underwater. Due to the console's cartridge storage limitations, six levels were removed: three secret levels ("Lava Daba Doo", "Texas Chainsaw Manicure", and "Mazed and Confused"), one normal level ("Poltergex"), and two bonus levels ("I Got the Reruns" and "Trouble in Uranus"). Other changes include fewer bonus levels, fewer quotes, and altered sound effects. Despite the reduction in ROM, graphical qualities are improved in this version. Unlike other versions that use memory cards, saved games on the Nintendo 64 version can only be replayed via a password system. This was changed in the Nintendo 64 port of the sequel, Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, which allows memory card save capabilities.
Following his victory over Rez in the Media Dimension, Gex has retired from the public eye and turned to solitude.
Two years later, his quiet life is soon turned upside down when one day he was watching television when all of a sudden, it goes blank and Rez's image begins flashing on the screen. Two government agents also appear and explain that Rez has returned and they need Gex's help in taking him down again. Gex refuses, saying that he has already saved the world once and that they should try to find someone else. In response, the agents abduct Gex to their headquarters, in which Gex is interrogated. When the agents make a fair negotiation for a huge sum of cash and gadgets, Gex tells them everything. He accepts the mission, to which he leaves the building and is then accosted by a female agent who introduces herself as Agent Xtra and wishes him good luck.
After navigating numerous television channels in the Media Dimension, Gex finally confronts Rez and the two battle once again until Gex drops a huge television set on Rez severely weakening him. In desperation, Rez tells Gex through a television that he is his father. Gex merely turns the television off. Whether or not he believes Rez is unknown. In the final scene, Gex shares a hotel room with Nikki from the Pandemonium series.
In early 1997, Crystal Dynamics announced that they were working on a 3D sequel to Gex in the style of Super Mario 64. Crystal Dynamics originally wanted to relaunch the character with the technology available at the time. Rather than a grouping of polygons, Gex was built with a full skeletal system, with more bones than a real gecko, and a 'skin' stretched over-top to eliminate pop and tearing. This also allowed him to move his mouth along with the voiced dialogue.
The Simpsons made for a noteworthy inspiration for the comedy set-ups based upon the show's popular style of humor. Rob Cohen, a writer from The Simpsons, worked on the script for Gex: Enter the Gecko, particularly Gex's one-liners. The end result of the idea gave Dana Gould over 700 voice-overs for Gex, while giving the character different costumes in order to suit the mood of the levels. When the game was ported to the Nintendo 64, over 500 voice-overs were cut due to the much lower storage capacity of cartridges as compared to CDs, leaving the Nintendo 64 version with roughly 100 samples. Since the game uses a MIDI soundtrack, no compromises were necessary for porting the music to the Nintendo 64. When Gould was being interviewed for the game, he explained how Gex in the third dimension differed from other platform games at the time. Gould said "The character's natural God-given abilities lend themselves extremely well to designing 3D gameplay." Gould reprised the role of Gex in the game for the American market, although the British version featured the voice of Leslie Phillips instead.
The designers put heavy emphasis on variety in the levels, in order to both give each world a different feel and help the player find their way around by creating recognizably unique landmarks.
|Computer Gaming World||N/A||N/A||||N/A|
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||N/A||5.5/10[c]||N/A||8.375/10[d]|
|Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine||N/A||N/A||N/A|||
|Game World Navigator||N/A||N/A||6.6/10||N/A|
The PlayStation version received favorable reviews, while the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color versions received mixed reviews, according to the review aggregation website GameRankings. In Japan, where the former console version was ported and published by Bandai under the name Spin Tail (スピンテイル, Supin Teiru) on September 10, 1998, Famitsu gave it a score of 23 out of 40.
Critics almost unanimously described the levels as extremely well-designed, varied, and expansive. Dan Hsu of Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) said that ninety percent of what made Gex: Enter the Gecko fun was the level design with its wealth of imagination and diverse, humorous settings. IGN said the variety of objectives in each level was what set the game above most platformers. The graphics were also uniformly praised, with Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot describing the overall look and frame rate as "about as close to Mario 64 as you'll ever get on a PlayStation" and Hsu's co-reviewer John Ricciardi commenting that "Gex's gorgeous graphics really exemplify just how far the PS has come since its release. Loads of beautiful textures, seamless animation, great lighting effects – the game is just a joy to look at."
Response to the virtual camera was more mixed. IGN and GamePro both hailed it as a major step forward for 3D gaming cameras, while EGM's reviewers remarked that, while the virtual camera was a valiant effort and could be made to work, it still was annoying at times. Next Generation, while similarly noting that the problems with camera angles in 3D gaming had yet to be solved by any game and that the developers had at least made an effort at a fix, felt that these ongoing problems in Gex: Enter the Gecko by themselves made it impossible to wholeheartedly recommend the game.
While the majority of reviewers praised the game's humor and personality, Gerstmann found the jokes so lame that they dragged the entire game down to a mediocre level. He added that "You can turn the commentary down or off, but considering that the game's entire selling point is based around these pathetic one-liners, you kind of feel obligated to leave them on." IGN had a much more positive overall assessment: "In the end, Gex is a surprising amount of fun, and gamers will like it because of its off-beat humor, large levels and great replay value."
GamePro called the PlayStation version "A must-own for platform fans" and gave it a 4.5 out of 5 for control and a perfect 5 in every other category (graphics, sound, and fun factor). The magazine later said of the Nintendo 64 version, "Clean 3D worlds and humorous sounds complete the experience, though you should be wary of a few hiccups with the game's controls. All told, if you enjoyed Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, Gex is worth considering as your next purchase."[f]
Game.EXE said that it lacked attention to detail and care. A Game World Navigator reviewer praised the graphics, noting that the backgrounds are detailed, but noticed that the monsters have few polygons. The reviewer complained about the bad behavior of the camera, but eventually concluded that the game is worth playing. Dmitriy Estrin, reviewer of a Strana Igr magazine, commented on the graphics, saying that the "developers skillfully managed the resources available to them", but he also noticed that the game had "too much simplicity in all aspects of the gameplay".
AllGame gave the PlayStation version four-and-a-half stars out of five, saying, "In conclusion, Gex: Enter the Gecko is a surprising amount of fun. From its vast and complex level design with humor-ridden gameplay, there is something for everyone. Anyone looking for the next Super Mario 64 or an incredibly good PlayStation platformer need look no further -- it is money well spent." Edge gave the same console version seven out of ten, saying, "While Gex 3D is possibly the best free-roaming 3D platformer for the PlayStation, the game's design is ultimately bereft of real inspiration."
The PlayStation version was a finalist for the AIAS' inaugural Interactive Achievement Awards (now known as the D.I.C.E. Awards) for "Console Game of the Year" and "Console Action Game of the Year", both of which went to GoldenEye 007.
- Ported to Nintendo 64 by Realtime Associates, David A. Palmer Productions for Game Boy Color and LTI Gray Matter for Windows.
- Also known as Gex 3D: Enter the Gecko or Return of the Gecko; or as Gex 64: Enter the Gecko on the Nintendo 64.
- In Electronic Gaming Monthly's review of the Nintendo 64 version, one critic gave it 6/10, two others gave it each a score of 5.5/10, and the other gave it 5/10.
- Three critics of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the PlayStation version each a score of 8.5/10, and one gave it 8/10.
- In GameFan's viewpoint of the PlayStation version, three critics gave it each a score of 87, 85, and 91.
- GamePro gave the Nintendo 64 version two 4.5/5 scores for graphics and fun factor, and two 3.5/5 scores for sound and control.
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