Vexx (GameCube) review
"Whether you know it or not, you’ve played Vexx before in other forms. We all have. This is one of those games that rips off every other game of its genre that came before it and contributes nothing of its own. It contains no original ideas, no memorable characters, no real entertainment value… no conceivable reason for even existing other than to make money, which it won’t because no one would buy a game like this. I hesitate to call the game “bad,” yet I have no idea who to recomm..."
Whether you know it or not, you’ve played Vexx before in other forms. We all have. This is one of those games that rips off every other game of its genre that came before it and contributes nothing of its own. It contains no original ideas, no memorable characters, no real entertainment value… no conceivable reason for even existing other than to make money, which it won’t because no one would buy a game like this. I hesitate to call the game “bad,” yet I have no idea who to recommend it to, or why I should even be playing it to begin with. It’s a pointless, thoughtless, dreary little sucker of a title.
So with games like Vexx I’m always fascinated with what publishers choose to put on the back of the box. You’ve gotta sell the game, but how? Even some bad games have interesting ideas that could perhaps sell the product to unsuspecting individuals who don’t know what they’re in for. But Vexx? Screw quality, I couldn’t even make this game SOUND cool.
I’m here to provide you with an honest description of Vexx, but look on the back of its box and you’ll read of monstrous, non-linear worlds! A vengeful hero armed with Astani war talons! A revolutionary combo-based fighting system that takes platform gaming to all new heights! And look at this: Play magazine says Vexx is “a glorious game in both concept and execution”!
Concept? What concept? Vexx is a 3D platformer about a guy with goofy facial hair and sharp claws who jumps a lot and kills magical creatures. The execution is like that of any mediocre N64-era collect-a-thon: Run around big worlds collecting assorted gizmos by clearing challenges that require a lot of jumping.
The main character is Vexx, whose name is a play on the word “vex,” which means to annoy, irritate, or aggravate. (I could mention how ironic that is, but it’d be too easy.) He wants to kill a dark lord or something, and plans to do so by using a pair of pointy gloves he found just lying around. This is supposed to be Vexx’s big gimmick: The main character has claws, which allow him to… uh, climb things. Which platform characters have been doing since forever.
But what of this “revolutionary” battle system that the box speaks of? Yeah, well, you know how games have enemies? You know how you can attack them and stuff? Yeah, Vexx has enemies and you can attack them and stuff. I found this revelatory.
But the box wasn’t lying about the huge environments. Vexx goes through level theme clichés as if by checklist – here’s the forest level, the desert level, the annoying-ass underwater level – but step into any one of them and you’ll be delivered a vast sense of scope, as these worlds truly are big. I’d be inclined to have fun exploring them if I didn’t have big, obvious arrow signs pointing me to my objective.
What is your objective, you ask? Well, this is a 3D platformer, so of course there must be lots and lots of collecting of various mystical objects. Vexx’s collectible doodad of choice is – wait for it – wait for it – ORBS! And hearts, too – not the shapes, but actual HEARTS, the kind that pump blood throughout one’s body. Gathering your collectibles is rarely difficult but will usually involve a fair amount of jumping. That’s usually how these things go. (One area where the game actually had potential: Before each “mission,” you’re shown a brief riddle that’s supposed to clue you in on how you’re supposed to obtain your next heart. So it seems like maybe some puzzle-solving might be involved, but then, yeah. Arrow signs.)
The only truly negative thing I have to say about Vexx is that I don’t have anything truly positive to say about it. I don’t know what to make of that, so here’s another quote from the back of the box:
“To hell with a princess – save the world!”
Get it? Because you’re always saving princesses in games like this. I think what Acclaim is trying to tell me is that Vexx somehow stands out from the platformer crowd, that it’s different. But no, you’re not different, Vexx. You’re just like every other platformer I’ve ever played. Except, whoops, some of them are actually fun.
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