Name: GEX 3: Deep Pocket Gecko
Format: Game Boy Color
Genre: Action Platform
Region Reviewed: NTSC
Year of Release: 1999
GEX 3: Deep Pocket Gecko is a game that appeared exclusively in America for the Gameboy Color and was released on December 29th 1999. This was one of the last games to come out before the new millennium and would also be the last time we would hear from the old Crystal Dynamics mascot in gaming, it was not exactly the best note to leave on.
Essentially the handheld port of the rather disappointing Gex: Deep Cover Gecko released on PSone and N64. You play as Gex and that is pretty much all you know.... No seriously when you boot this game up all you see is a screen with Gex in a suit and a human female in spandex next to him and on pressing start, the game just starts with no intro or story. On researching this its basically the same plot as the PSone and N64 game however some context would have been nice here. Agent Xtra has been kidnapped by Rez (the bad guy) and its up to Gex to save the day, and yes I thought it too, these names are just silly. So unless you do some research yourself the game will never explain what the hell is going on or why, I find this choice of design rather lazy. I should point I only have the cart so for all I know the plot may be explained in the game manual.
The game has multiple stages which can be accessed via a hub world. Each level is a parody of a film/TV genre the same as previous games in the series which I always found interesting. You will explore a snow region, murder mystery area, even an anime cartoon style backdrop, as well as many others. Although each level is very large in scope, which is quite impressive for a Game Boy Color I never felt drawn into the world or even interested. In the games defence though the graphics are solid and character and enemy sprites are recognisable. Occasionally however the sprites would gel with the background making it hard to see. Interestingly, Gex switches costumes on each level which is a nice touch.
When you enter each level you are given a choice of three missions to fulfil in order to complete it and when you select one the game will show a short clip hinting at how to accomplish said objective and find the end goal which is a giant TV. The good news is you can complete the missions in any order you choose, on completion of a mission you receive a TV remote, an item which is used to unlock future levels. A fourth controller can be unlocked in every level by collecting one hundred insect collectibles and you can also find bonus coins which are used to unlock bonus levels in the hub world, but I never found the drive to hunt these down.
The bad news is you can not complete multiple missions at once, it wasn't uncommon for me to focus on one mission only to accidentally stray off the beaten path and complete another mission. When this happens you have to restart the entire level again regardless of how much progress you made in the mission you were supposed to focus on. This was a problem also present in the 3D games on other consoles and I am surprised they didn't think to fix it on this entry, a wasted opportunity. Gex 3 is a 2D platformer which initially had me excited as that was after all how Gex started his short career on 3DO, PSone and Sega Saturn, occasionally the game goes into a over the top view where you can move around the entire screen, much like Zelda which is a nice turn of pace but not enough to save it.
The problem is the same character sprite is used when Gex is in the 2D platforming segments which confused me at first as to whether the section had switched views at all, once again a lazy design choice. On top of all this the platforming detection is awful in this game, the best example to use is the game rarely makes it clear what sections of the platform you can actually stand on, you will regularly try and jump for a platform only to miss and fall when it very much feels like you should have made it, not only that there are house's and doors throughout the game which you can enter by pressing up, though the majority of these do not allow you to enter at all. This became especially frustrating when I was trying to find the giant TV to end one of the levels.
The controls in Gex are also just awful, you can jump and tail whip of which both actions work simple enough and If you time your jumps very precisely you can do a tail bounce which helps you get higher however I found this action was not as easy to perform as it should have been, once again leading to some real serious frustration when it was required in certain segments in the game.
The music and sound effects for Gex are very forgettable, I never heard a tune I was drawn into and most of the music rarely felt like it fit the feel of the level. I was more interested in turning up the music from my laptop or putting on some podcasts. This game is not very long. I managed to get through it in a single sitting, there is a password system but it is very long so make sure you have a pen and paper handy. I may have actually finished it but the experience was not fun and I doubt most people will have the patience to see this story through to the end.
The final thing that had me literally screaming into the abyss and almost flinging the Game Boy down the stairs and out the window was the ending. Yes I will spoil this as you should probably know what the reward is for all your hard work. You get absolute Jack! And then Jack left town. As soon as you defeat the final boss the credits roll, no ending screen, no congratulations, nothing. Now I'm very aware most Game Boy games don't have extravagant endings, but this was a total slap to the face for all I had to endure to reach the end and made me dislike the whole thing even more.
Verdict:- This game was a disappointment on many levels and just because it is a handheld game does not mean it should be forgiven for some of the utterly terrible design choices and cheap mechanics. There is clearly a reason why this game stayed in America and If you happen to find a copy anywhere outside the U.S.A I suggest you mail it back to where it came from.
In all seriousness this game is really only advised for the hardcore collector and the ultimate Gex fanboy (or girl). The game is playable but there are many better choices available on the console and the reward for completion of it is horrendous. Save yourself the effort and steer clear.
Second Opinion:- Transbot's head hurts, this game is so bad... And on a console that was just so very good.
Please kindly take this filthy excuse for a game away from me right now and burn it, then take those ashes and fire them into space so they are another species problem and not anywhere near me.
The only good GEX game was the very first one that was on the mighty 3DO console, possibly the PS1/Saturn port as well. I think I need to lie down for a bit after this
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10