Gex series

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Retro STrife
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Gex series

Postby Retro STrife » January 15th, 2018, 12:28 am

"It all started so simply; I had just finished my usual morning routine of Nude Funkercise..."

So begins Gex. The Critic's recent review of Yooka Laylee got me thinking about old school platformers, and the Gex trilogy popped in my head. This was one of the biggest platforming series in the mid to late 90s, but died off after the 3rd game and seems long forgotten nowadays. As far as nostalgia goes, the second game (Gex: Enter the Gecko) is the biggest for me. It was the first 3D platformer I ever played. My cousin had just gotten a PS1, we were both excited to try it out, and Gex: Enter the Gecko was his only game, so we spent the entire night playing it. Flash forward to today, and I wanted to play it again, only to realize that I've never bought it (yet, somehow I have Gex and Gex 3 each on 2 systems...). I remedied that by buying it on ebay today, but for now I decided to play the original Gex on my Saturn.

Like many 2D platformers, I can confirm that Gex holds up well today. I had fun with it. Gex was always known for his wisecracks, especially back in the 90s when games struggled at being funny, and many of the jokes still at least generate a smile if not a laugh (though I could also foresee it being annoying to some people). The voice acting, especially by Dana Gould, is very good for the era, and the cutscenes and production values are top notch too. It's a solid B-range platformer on the Saturn and PS1. On the 3DO though, it might be the best game on the system. In fact, if not for Gex being diluted by its release across multiple systems, I bet a 3DO-exclusive Gex would have been very highly regarded among retro gamers today.

I'm hoping that Gex: Enter the Gecko holds up well too when I play that, but I'm less optimistic about a '90s 3D platformer like that. I've never played Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko, which ended the series in 1999. I do remember Gex 3, though, being a huge debate among N64 and PS1 gamers at my school when previews started coming out for it - N64 gamers (desperate for a good game during the post-Ocarina of Time drought) touted the improved graphics, while PS1 gamers noted that their CD media would allow a lot more voicework in their game. (P.S. The PS1 version won out and had much better reviews.) I believe that Crystal Dynamics still owns this IP, but they're occupied with Tomb Raider these days and have other IPs to prioritize, so I don't foresee Gex ever coming back with a new sequel at this point. That's probably for the best, but it was good while it lasted.

Anyone else played the series and have any thoughts on it? Any favorite of the 3 games? And, if anyone has played them more recently, do Gex 2 and 3 still hold up well today?

ESauce
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Re: Gex series

Postby ESauce » January 15th, 2018, 3:42 am

Retro STrife wrote:"

Anyone else played the series and have any thoughts on it? Any favorite of the 3 games? And, if anyone has played them more recently, do Gex 2 and 3 still hold up well today?


I have played the series and own all three games. The games weren’t my first 3d platformers so they probably don’t hold as much nostalgia for me as for you, but i do have fond memories of playing the 2nd and 3rd ones. Unfortunately I would say no, the 3d ones don’t hold up well. They are very by the numbers platformers and outside of the voice work by Dana Gould (which starts to get old once you hear one of the same three lines repeated over and over again in a level), there’s not much to distinguish them. I sill find some enjoyment out of them due to nostalgia though so hopefully you can too.

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Re: Gex series

Postby VideoGameCritic » January 15th, 2018, 8:33 am

Been a while since I touched this series, but I do recall playing one of the 3D Gex's on my Playstation. You're right - it's a very cookie cutter game. As my first free-roaming 3D title I kept playing hoping it would get better, but I don't think it ever did.

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Re: Gex series

Postby pacman000 » January 15th, 2018, 9:48 am

Bought the 1st one (PS1 version) a year or two ago, but it freezes after the intro. :(

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Re: Gex series

Postby Retro STrife » January 15th, 2018, 12:31 pm

I do agree about them being cookie cutter platformers in terms of gameplay, with the only distinct gameplay touch being the ability to crawl upward and upside-down on walls. No doubt, a large reason for the games standing out and being successful was Gex's personality and Dana Gould's quips. It's nothing special now, but it was cool in the 90s to see a legitimate attempt at comedy in a game. It's pretty common nowadays for game writers to generate humor (and they're much better at it now), but it was rare back then. Of course, the other reason for success was that Playstation owners were struggling to find a game that could compete with Mario 64--and while Gex 2 and 3 don't come close, they were respectable enough for PS1 owners to grin and bear it.

One of the more interesting aspects of the Gex series is the fact that Europe had different voice actors. It's hard for me to picture Gex without Dana Gould. But in Europe, they had Gould for the first game (with his crazy voice and impressions), Leslie Phillips for the second game (old white guy with strong English accent), and Danny June-Jules for the third game (black British actor). Very distinct styles, and a lot of UK gamers will swear that Leslie Phillips was the best. To me, he sounds like a disgruntled butler, rather than a wisecracking gecko. But here's a link for a comparison of the voices: http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voi ... e/Gex/Gex/ .

ESauce
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Re: Gex series

Postby ESauce » January 15th, 2018, 11:48 pm

Retro STrife wrote: Of course, the other reason for success was that Playstation owners were struggling to find a game that could compete with Mario 64--and while Gex 2 and 3 don't come close, they were respectable enough for PS1 owners to grin and bear it.



That doesn’t really make sense to me given that

1) The games were released on N64 too.

And

2) PlayStation owners had Spyro! Which is both exclusive to the system and compares far more favorably to Mario 64.

That’s really interesting on the voicework though. I didn’t know that. It makes sense though since, I mean, how many Americans even know who Dana Gould is? It’s logical to get someone better known in the country.

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Re: Gex series

Postby VideoGameCritic » January 16th, 2018, 5:16 pm

It's true that us "Playstation people" were looking for a Super Mario 64 surrogate. I know because I was one of them!
Spyro didn't come out until late 1998, whereas Gex came out early.
Frankly we never really found what we were looking for... not on the PS1 anyway.

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Re: Gex series

Postby Retro STrife » January 16th, 2018, 5:23 pm

ESauce wrote:
Retro STrife wrote: Of course, the other reason for success was that Playstation owners were struggling to find a game that could compete with Mario 64--and while Gex 2 and 3 don't come close, they were respectable enough for PS1 owners to grin and bear it.



That doesn’t really make sense to me given that

1) The games were released on N64 too.

And

2) PlayStation owners had Spyro! Which is both exclusive to the system and compares far more favorably to Mario 64.

That’s really interesting on the voicework though. I didn’t know that. It makes sense though since, I mean, how many Americans even know who Dana Gould is? It’s logical to get someone better known in the country.


Sure. Let me touch on both those with my thoughts and recollections from back then:

1. Although Gex 2 and 3 were released on the N64 too, the Playstation versions were more popular and better known, for a few reasons. For starters, the N64 had better 3D platformers than the PS1 (Mario, Banjo, etc.), so Gex got less hype on those systems and I recall it being marketed more toward the PS1. Second, the PS1 versions of both games came out about 6 months sooner than the N64 versions. So the game was a little stale already by the time the N64 versions came out. Lastly, and surprisingly, the PS1 versions were substantially better games. Check Gamerankings.com, and you'll see that the aggregate score for Gex 2 on the PS1 was 81%, but a paltry 60% on the N64. I haven't played the N64 version, so I can't explain that discrepancy, but that is a huge difference that shows the N64 version had big issues. One problem I do recall is that a lot of the voicework was cut from the N64 version, because it could not fit on the cartridge, so that took away a lot of the game's personality and humor. But that score indicates more problems than that. For all those reasons, the PS1 versions got more interest back in the day, and to me it feels like a 3DO and PS1 franchise nowadays, despite appearing on Saturn and N64 too.

2. Playstation owners had Spyro, true. But Gex 2 came out about 8 months before Spyro. At that time, there was no free-roaming 3D platformer on the PS1 that was anywhere close to Mario 64. (Crash 1 and 2 were out, but those have a different gameplay style. Jumping Flash and Croc are the only other two 3D platformers worth noting on PS1 before Gex 2.) So there was hope that Gex 2 would be the competitor that the PS1 needed. Also, despite Sony doing a huge marketing campaign for Spyro, I recall some hesitancy about it from PS1 gamers. It just seemed too cutesy and colorful, whereas characters like Crash and Gex appealed a little better to the PS1 demographic. Obviously Spyro's gameplay helped overcome that and it became a big franchise, but Gex 2 had a shot at capturing that title before Spyro got released. And Gex 2 was good, but not to Mario's level. (And still, even Spyro wasn't in the same realm as Mario 64.)

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Re: Gex series

Postby pacman000 » January 17th, 2018, 9:02 am

I'd assume Gex 2 was more of an "See! Our system can do 3D free roaming adventure platformers too!" type deal for PS1 owners.

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Re: Gex series

Postby Retro STrife » January 21st, 2018, 5:55 am

pacman000 wrote:I'd assume Gex 2 was more of an "See! Our system can do 3D free roaming adventure platformers too!" type deal for PS1 owners.


Yeah, I recall that being part of it. And it was good back then, just not to the "classic" level of Mario.

PS1 owners fared much better, though, when they used Gex 2 and 3 as a chance to tout the advantages of the CD medium, because the N64 versions had to cut a lot of the audio and cutscenes from the games. The N64 cartridge simply lacked the storage capacity to handle it. In terms of voicework, I think I read that the PS1 version had over 300 quips from Gex, whereas the N64 had around 100. A lot of music was cut too. The PS1 version also had a bunch of FMV cutscenes, and all of them were cut on the N64. Even levels were cut from the N64 version in a few instances (though one was added too). The N64 version also used a lot of "fog" to limit the strain on graphics, and I've even seen some comparisons say the PS1 version looks better overall. While some of these advantages were due to CDs, it was also due to the N64 port being rushed.


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