Gex is easy to control, with novel moves such as his tail whip, tongue lash, hurl, and wall-stick. The tail whip is his standard attack. The tongue lash lets him snag power-ups, allowing him to hurl fire or ice balls. But Gex's true claim-to-fame is his ability to stick to walls and ceilings. We've seen this in certain older games like Sonic & Knuckles (Genesis, 1993) but never to this extent. The climbing really adds a new dimension.
You can choose which levels you want to play via Mario-like map screens. There are four sub-areas: the graveyard, Toontown, Kung-fu-ville, and the jungle. My favorite is the graveyard, featuring lizard zombies, flying demons, and chainsaw-toting psychopaths. Gex includes all the obligatory platform elements like destructible walls, checkpoints, portals, springboards, and floating platforms. But Gex has more technique, multiple paths, and even mini games. Every level throws new surprises at you and the bosses do not disappoint either.
The audio effects in Gex also get plenty of attention. The sound of his tail whip and enemies getting knocked down like bowling pins are crystal clear and entertaining. Unfortunately I've never been a big fan of Gex's voice. His frequent quips are mildly amusing but mostly annoying. You can save your game, but only at predetermined points. Crystal Dynamics clearly put a lot of effort into this, and as a result Gex is one of the premiere 3DO titles of all time. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Certain warriors are well-suited for close-range sword fighting, while others like clerics can attack from a distance and heal the party. Sitting through the mediocre attack animations gets tiresome though. There's some strategy involved in positioning your characters but there's no concept of directional attacks. All the fighting is done on a level playing field - literally! The shoulder buttons allow you to rotate the camera by 90 degrees, but the low angle makes it hard to gauge your position with respect to others. Strategic possibilities expand as you collect additional items and abilities, but it's slow and boring early on.
The menu interface is well designed and it's nice how you can assume a "defensive posture" when you're trying to buy some time. Hitting one button brings up the prompt "Load ok?" and I never knew what the hell that meant. You can save your progress between stages. Guardian War's cut-scenes are poorly produced and I could barely even make out what the narrator was saying. This game was probably pretty innovative back in 1994, but as the genre has made huge strides Guardian War is looking like a long-lost relic. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
You control a police officer who narrowly escapes an attack by government forces. He's a wise-cracking smartass with a voice like Beck Bennet. Along with his wife he must piece together clues to determine why "The Hand" wants them dead. You hop between locations via a nifty wireframe map with real locations like McPherson Square, Dupont Circle, and even the Pentagon. Each contains creepy, shadowy areas populated by colorful characters, androids, and demons. You travel to Hell itself several times, but it looks suspiciously like Earth!
The point-and-click interface lets you point where you want to go, but the round-about paths your character takes are almost comical. Upon striking up a conversation you'll want to get comfortable, because they tend to go on and on, causing my 3DO to grind like mad. One creature flails his arms as he rants, like a demonic Bernie Sanders. Although clever and funny at times, the dialog is so wordy and repetitive it's hard to maintain interest, much less glean clues. Even the scenery is hard to discern as it's so dark and indistinct. Some of the key action sequences play out automatically. During one I expected to be killed by a demon, only to witness my peeps pull out automatic weapons and start firing!
It's easy to get stuck in the game, partly because manipulating items is inordinately complicated. Still, I enjoyed the psychedelic atmosphere. The music is sparse but eerie, punctuated by alarming sounds. Hell is remarkably forward-thinking for a 1993 title, touching upon modern topics like artificial birth techniques, ubiquitous newsfeeds, virtual porn, and people downloading their consciousnesses. Oddball titles like Hell are a good reason to still play the 3DO. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Portals also allow you to talk to these bizarre (and sometimes half-naked) creatures. Apparently your ultimate goal is to advance in rank from 255 to 1 by blowing away creatures and facing bosses. It took me quite a while to figure all this out because the instructions really suck. Immercenary does feature some nifty visual effects and shapely babes, but it's mostly a slow, plodding ordeal. Your agility meter drains quickly as you run so you'll constantly have to "rest". Resting is just like it sounds - you sit around and watch your meter recharge slowly. Once you start moving, the peculiar control scheme keeps you moving forward like a car, forcing you to press both shoulder buttons to stop.
Dying returns you to the lab, where the pissed-off scientists look at you like you've just interrupted their coffee break. The game never seems to end even when you perform poorly. One time I died on purpose, only to have a scientist tell me "Definite improvement in target kill ratio - that's good!" before sending my sorry ass back into this virtual hell. Immercenary tries to be a thinking man's Doom, but I think they may have overthunk it. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
The gameplay is outstanding. Players look stunning and the animation is impressively smooth. I found the running and passing games to be fairly well-balanced. The running moves are effective, and your running back usually won't go down on the first hit. I was surprised to see the game uses the old-style passing windows, which I was never a big fan of. Video clips of referees and fans are intermingled with the action, and I love it when the "chains" are brought out to measure first downs. John Madden's commentary is pretty amusing. He always scolds you for using timeouts: "Just remember that time-out you took; it's gonna come back to haunt you".
As much as I love this game I have to mention a few issues. The video clips in the "scouting report" section don't always jive with the text on the screen. The snow is so lame you can barely even see it on the field. Finally, a skill level option would have been nice, as I found the game is a bit on the easy side. Some of its quirks are endearing, like when my receiver caught a touchdown and proceeded to line up to kick the extra point. Now that's what I call versatility! If you prefer classic sprite-based Madden action, it doesn't get much better than this. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
After an easy intro sequence you can select between four villains to apprehend. The footage just screams "low-budget" with actors trying hard to check off all the wild west stereotype boxes. Each scene has a brief set-up which often tries to catch you off-guard. You can't shoot anybody until they point a gun at you, but sometimes it's hard to see what's happening, especially in a crowded bar. The fuzzy video quality doesn't help.
It is mildly fun to pick off outlaws and watch them throw themselves into fountains, tumble over casino tables, and fall off horses. The audio and video tends to move in fits and stops as semi-randomized sequences load in a not-so-seamless fashion. Innocents can pop up in the same places as bad guys, so watch that itchy trigger finger.
Knowing where to shoot is not always obvious but you learn as you go. The gun accuracy is actually pretty good, as you can even hit the edge of the screen with ease. Distant targets are tough to hit, so fire two or three shots for good measure. Sometimes you'll clearly miss a guy and see him go down, and other times you'll hit a guy dead-on and it won't register. When you lose a life a doctor or caretaker tosses out irreverent wisecracks at your expense.
The Last Bounty Hunter is more of the same shallow light gun action we've come to expect on the 3DO. The storyline seems incoherent as you're whisked from one wild west location to the next. I noticed that the audio track would occasionally get out of sync with action. Fortunately it doesn't dampen the fun very much, mainly because there's not much fun to be had. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum