I played a lot of Game Boy games when I was a kid, and I never got any good at them. Fifteen years later, I’m revisiting these games so that I can finally achieve victory. This is Daniel VS. Childhood.
Creating a video game icon that will weather the stresses of time and hindsight bias is tough. Crash Bandicoot looks like the tumor that you’d cut off of a larger Crash Bandicoot. For every good game about Sonic the Hedgehog, there are seventeen attempts to create something that isn’t Sonic the Hedgehog 2. In the case of the game I played for this article, Gex 3: Deep Pocket Gecko, I’m sure that 1999 Daniel was absolutely stunned to bear witness to the awesome collage that made up Gex 3’s cover. A lizard?! In a suit?!! And he has witticisms?!!! And he goes snowboarding?!!!! Heaven IS for real.
Like most video game series that release dumbed-down versions for handhelds, Gex 3 sacrificed having any kind of a story in order to fit as much jumping as possible into the levels. By pressing B again just before you hit the ground, Gex will bounce higher and faster, which allows you to reach and then jump over the platforms you need to land on. Video games usually give you power-ups as you progress, so that you can keep up with the game’s difficulty, but Gex starts out over-compensated. It doesn’t help that you need forward momentum to hit all of the higher ledges, which turns Gex into a self-propelled rocket. Gex’s movements, much like his own radness, are uncontrollable.
The game is basically a scavenger hunt, with the objectives being things like making five ice sculptures of yourself, or collecting three Egyptian staffs. When you’re jittery and ten, careening your lizard towards these items is a frustrating experience. I’d bought the GEX 3: DEEP COVER GECKO NOVELIZATION from my elementary school’s book fair, and I knew that it shouldn’t be this difficult to force fun into a toy. The book was primarily made up of action sequences, followed by Gex telling the proprietors of those action sequences just how stupid they were for not being Gex. The game was sailing past those action sequences, and into spikes, or a pit, or the beginning of the level. And since Gex had had the power of speech ripped from him, there was no “I’m freezing my TAIL off here!” to sooth me whenever I slammed head first into the bottom of a mountain that I’d just climbed.
As an adult, not much has changed. Gex 3 still feels like it was created to disprove the theory of hand-eye coordination, and I don’t want to beat the game as much as I want to prove that I’m better than it. And I’m not. I’m not better than Gex 3: Deep Pocket Gecko.
Tomorrow: Heroes of Might and Magic