Gex (video game)
Beam Software (PS1/Saturn)
|Publisher(s)||BMG Interactive (3DO)
Crystal Dynamics (PS1/Saturn)
|Artist(s)||Mira F. Ross|
|Platform(s)||3DO, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Microsoft Windows|
Gex is a 1995 platform game developed by Crystal Dynamics. It was originally released for the Panasonic 3DO, but ports of the game were later released for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows. It was a pack-in game for Panasonic models of the 3DO later in the console's life. It is the first game in the Gex series and introduces players to the title character, a wisecracking gecko, voiced by comedian Dana Gould.
Gex received positive reviews from critics, and managed to sell over a million copies for the 3DO making it one of the system's better-selling games. Gex served as Crystal Dynamics's mascot, and was intended as a competitor to rival the likes of popular video game mascots such as Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog.
‘’Gex’’ is a side-scrolling platformer that follows the title character, an anthropomorphic, television-obsessed gecko named Gex who is sucked into the “media dimension” by Rez, a mechanical cybernetic entity, while watching TV. Gex must traverse through 24 levels contained in several different TV channels which act as different worlds (accessed through a world map). The goal of each stage is to explore and locate hidden television remotes which are used to unlock more levels. In addition to being able to walk, run, and jump through the game’s levels, Gex can attach himself to walls and crawl along them using the suction pads on his feet. This technique is sometimes necessary to progress, but can also be used to bypass enemies and hazards. Gex primarily attacks by whipping enemies with his tail.
Certain levels require players to find two remotes to access the next world. There are also hidden portals to bonus levels, and completing a bonus level perfectly gives players a piece of the Planet X remote. Though there is a bonus level in each regular level, players need only beat one in each world to reach Planet X, an optional secret world.
On the original 3DO version, players can save their progress to the system's internal memory; all other versions use a password system instead. To receive a password or gain access to the 3DO's internal memory, the player must find a VHS tape, hidden in the level. The tapes are usually hidden every other level in each world.
The concept for Gex was created by Lyle Hall, who began work on the project shortly after joining the newly-created Crystal Dynamics in 1993. Hall wanted the game to "take advantage of both the graphics prowess and the CD audio capabilities" of Panasonic'# 3DO Interactive Multiplayer console, intending to create a 2D platform game starring "the coolest character I could come up with." It was created with the intention of a new mascot in mind, with Crystal Dynamics pushing for a character who could rival the likes of other gaming icons such as Mario and Sonic. Initially, the development team consisted of 4 people; Hall, who served as the game's producer, Mira Ross and Susanne Dougherty as artists, and Gregg Travers as the lead programmer (later on, Justin Knorr was hired as the game's Lead Designer). The game initially centered around a Hollywood stuntman named "Gecko X" who needed to help save his contracted film studio from going bankrupt at the volition of the antagonist, Karl Chameleon. Each stage was to be themed around a certain genre of film (i.e. a level inspired by Western films) and would begin with stock footage of a vintage film from that genre. The player would then go through the level and perform "stunts", with the player's performance dictating the amount of money the film would earn and how well the studio would do. The concept was eventually nixed at the suggestion of Travers, who argued that placing the levels in such realistic settings would lead to a lack of sensible design structure, and a new concept was brainstormed following a character named Rezull who would be brought into a "TV Land" and have to fight against the antagonist with an armada of "video warriors".
During its production, Gex went through various development challenges due to schedule issues. The development team initially came up with 6 different worlds themed around varying TV channels, including a horror world and a science fiction world. Each world was given 3 distinct sets of art design that could be used to create unique levels; for instance, the horror world had a haunted house set, a graveyard set, and a "mode 2" set for a vertically scrolling level. While working on the game, they found that developing game art for 32-bit hardware was far harder than it was with 16-bit hardware, as the expanded memory and storage capabilities of a compact disc meant that far more art could be made; with 2 artists working on the game's assets, a single in-game level took around 2 months to complete. Crystal Dynamics was also hesitant in hiring additional artists to the game's development team, as their two other 3DO games being developed at the time, Crash N Burn and Total Eclipse, contained simpler art styles and thus required a small number of artists, convincing them that Gex only needed a small team as well.  Eventually, the company began bringing other designers in to work on characters, including Steve Kongsle (who had been working on Crash N Burn and designed Gex).
Gex received positive reviews. Aggregating review website GameRankings gave the 3DO version 79.58%, the PC version 71.00%, the Sega Saturn version 69.35% and the PlayStation version 63.33%.
The game was awarded best 3DO game at the 1994 Consumer Electronics Show by GamePro and "Best 3DO Game of 1995" by Electronic Gaming Monthly. Tommy Glide of GamePro reviewed that "Gex is destined to become the 3DO equivalent of Sonic or Mario, as this cool little lizard sets high standards for all future 3DO platform-hoppers." Next Generation called it "one of the most solid and enjoyable side-scrolling action games in a while." Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it an 8.675 out of 10 and their "Game of the Month" award. Critics focused praise on the game's numerous secrets, detailed graphics, witty one-liners, and the player character's ability to climb walls.
The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave both the PlayStation and Saturn versions a 7.875 out of 10, commenting that the audio and cinemas in both versions were cleaned up compared to the 3DO original. They especially praised the game's humor and solid platforming action. Tommy Glide likewise stated in GamePro, "We marveled at Gex on the 3DO. Now this platform-hopping lizard debuts on the PlayStation and earns even more affection with cleaner graphics and smoother gameplay." He again applauded Gex's unique wall climbing ability, the vast size and numerous secrets of the levels, and Dana Gould's numerous one-liners. He remarked the Saturn version has "the same graphics, sound, and control that earned acclaim in the PlayStation version", and that "Gex eats Bug for lunch". A reviewer for Next Generation contested that Gex's wall climbing ability is "not completely unique" but that it nonetheless adds an interesting dimension to the gameplay, and also praised Gould's one-liners and the "unique and humorous" area themes. He concluded, "In a world of polygons, we're not sure one last side-scroller is what the 32-bit universe needs, but you could do worse." Next Generation's review of the Saturn version game remarked that Gex was nowhere near as fresh as it was when it debuted on the 3DO, though still witty and fun. In a rare negative review of the game, Rob Allsetter commented in Sega Saturn Magazine, "I suppose I should point out that the graphics and animation are polished, that the game moves at a decent pace and that it's certainly playable, but ... none of these things make up for the utter predictability of it all." Maximum gave the PlayStation version a mixed review, saying that the player character has a remarkable variety of abilities, but that the level design is often dull and frustrating.
- Sales figures for Gex remain unclear; in an apparent contradiction of the cited GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly articles, an article in Next Generation also cover-dated November 1995 says that the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (the only platform Gex had been released for at the time) had sold only 750,000 units worldwide.
- Frequently Asked Questions, rec.games.video.
- "Price Slashed on 3DO". GamePro. IDG (85): 170–172. October 1995.
- "The Next Generation 1996 Lexicon A to Z: Mascot". Next Generation. No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. p. 36.
- Travers, Gregg (April 3, 1997). "GEX – games.greggman.com". Retrieved May 14, 2017.
- "Gex (3DO) reviews at". GameRankings. 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
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- "Gex (Sega Saturn) reviews at". GameRankings. 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
- "Gex (PlayStation) reviews at". GameRankings. 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
- "Review Crew: Gex". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 71. Sendai Publishing. June 1995. p. 34.
- "Review Crew: Gex". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 78. Sendai Publishing. January 1996. p. 42.
- "Review Crew: Gex". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 79. Sendai Publishing. February 1996. p. 32.
- "Ultimate Review Archive." Game Informer. Issue 100. August, 2001. Page 57. Original review published March 1998.
- "Maximum Reviews: Gex". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. No. 5. Emap International Limited. April 1996. p. 155.
- "Gripping". Next Generation. No. 7. Imagine Media. July 1995. p. 68.
- "Gex". Next Generation. No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. pp. 78, 81.
- "Every Sega Saturn Game Played, Reviewed, and Rated". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. p. 64.
- Allsetter, Rob (April 1996). "Review: Gex". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 6. Emap International Limited. pp. 84–85.
- "At the Deadline". GamePro. No. 85. IDG. October 1995. p. 174.
- "Tidbits...". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 76. Sendai Publishing. November 1995. p. 19.
- "75 Power Players: The Evangelist". Next Generation. No. 11. Imagine Media. November 1995. p. 56.
Global sales stand at around 750,000, with 300,000 sold in the US.
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- "Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide". 1996.
- "ProReview: Gex". GamePro. No. 81. IDG. June 1995. p. 78.
- "ProReview: Gex". GamePro. No. 89. IDG. February 1996. p. 48.
- "ProReview: Gex". GamePro. No. 90. IDG. March 1996. p. 56.