Wow, has it really been 15 years since we last saw a Gex game? Time sure does fly when you’re… not that busy. Anyway… this game has been on my mind a lot recently. Not just this one, but 3D Platformers in general. Its 2014 as I write this, and well, 3D Platformers similar to Mario games are pretty much just limited to Mario games. And we are lucky if we get more than one per console generation. Being that there is such a shortage of these types of games, I’ve had to resort to digging out my old consoles and games. Which isn’t exactly a bad thing, because I LOVE my old consoles and games! One in particular was Gex 3D: Enter the Gecko on Playstation (Gex 64: Enter the Gecko on N64). The second game in the series, and the first to make the jump into the wonderful world of 3D. The world of Gex is set in a TV style land, which levels ripping off popular and well known films and TV shows from cartoons to horror to Japanese martial arts! Gex is a funny, sarcastic and mature character, making jokes based on pop culture that as a kid would sometimes go over my head simply because I wasn’t old enough to understand. Think of him as a toned down version of the original Conker. No swearing, but still sarcastic and definitely some adult humour thrown in for good measure. Each level saw you trying to complete various Mario-esque challenges in order to obtain TV remotes to unlock more levels and advance in the game. There is also a secret Golden Remote hidden in every level to find, and another remote you can only get by collecting a certain amount of collectables. Gex: Deep Cover Gecko was released in 1999 and would be the last time we saw a game from this series. They definitely went all out in order to expand on Gex 3D, with larger levels, powerups and abilities, and even a playboy model! While I don’t think all of the new additions helped make it a better game (for me personally) than Gex 3D, the fact that they DID add so much gives me hope that should the Gex series ever return, they could really go all out once again to give us a true competitor to Mario. Until then, I’ll just have to relive my childhood and play these old games!
I’ve talked about the second Crash game already in my Top 10 Favourite Games post, but the first handful of Crash games are all seriously good. The first is definitely just like a “lighter” version of Crash 2 with the features and level designs, however the difficulty level is definitely above Crash 2. Crash 3 on the other hand clearly shows some evolution in the series, adding some new level styles (they don’t always work well but nice to see them change things up here and there), powerups (sure, jumping higher and running faster is ok, but everyone wants the WUMPA FRUIT LAUNCHER!!!), challenges inside of levels (time trials), and the addition of Coco, Crash’s sister, being a playable character in certain levels. But the fun didn’t stop there, oh no. Crash Team Racing burst onto the scene and might be the single best “Mario Kart Clone” out there. Tight controls, good weapons, fun tracks and a great battle mode. Not too shabby; 3 great platformers, all showing clear evolution as they go along, and a fantastic karting game, all on ONE generation console! What? That’s STILL not it? A lesser known title in the Crash series for the PS1 is Crash Bash. It’s a crazy multiplayer (and single) party style game, along the lines of Mario Party, featuring mini games between the Crash Bandicoot characters. It is a lot of fun and I urge everyone to look it up and give it a go if they can get hold of it for a decent price. I think between this, CTR and the platformers, Sony were really trying to make Crash their version of Mario in terms of being a console mascot that could feature in multiple games. Unfortunately, Naughty Dog, the company behind the first 3 Crash games and CTR, were no longer involved with the series once we moved into the PS2 era. And no longer was Crash a Sony console exclusive. And no longer was Crash a good game. The Wrath of Cortex on paper looked to once again evolve the series by keeping the core gameplay but adding in new level types and features… however in execution they missed the mark. Crash felt a little sluggish, and the game just didn’t feel the same as before. They tried to continue the success of CTR with another kart game, but that too fell short of the original. Following that, the Crash games changed and felt like completely different games, and not ones that were particularly good. They added more combat to the games, instead of just sticking to the standard jump and spin, which never did anything to make the games better or more fun, instead turned the Crash games into something else. So while yes, I would love to see Crash Bandicoot to return, I would want them to be more like the PS1 era games in the series rather than newer versions of what the series turned into. Recently, Sony have talked about reviving old games series, and Crash was one of them mentioned, however they said that the time isn’t right just yet. We might have to wait a little while, but it DOES seem like Crash will return! What version we get however, is another story altogether.
STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC/JEDI KNIGHT/THE FORCE UNLEASHED
I could have added these individually, but instead since they are all part of the same brand, I thought I’d lump them all together. We’ll start with Knights of the Old Republic. How INCREDIBLE was the first one? Admittedly at first I wasn’t that into it… but once you leave that dull as shit first planet and get to explore the Star Wars Universe and train in the ways of the Jedi, it becomes one of the best games you could ever play, especially as a Star Wars fan. And the story, oh the story. It’s sort of like Lost, in that the more answers you get, the more questions open up. Only here the end is actually really good and ANSWERS EVERYTHING (Yeah I’m still a little bitter at how Lost ended…). The second in the series seems to divide people. Honestly I haven’t played it all the way through yet, but I was enjoying it all the same as I was the first game. Regardless of any problems people have with this game, I still want to see another. And I’m sure if it was made to be more like the first game, even people who aren’t high on Obsidian would surely relish the opportunity to play another game in the series. Recently Obsidian have revealed that they do in fact bring the game up every 6 months or so, and would definitely like to do another, so there is hope Obiwan! Plus, with Star Wars returning to our screens for a new trilogy, you’d better believe gaming companies will want to milk this franchise for all it’s worth! So long as the games don’t suck, it could be a great time to be a gamer AND a Star Wars fan!
Next up is the Jedi Knight series. This one dates back to the mid-90’s, and while I own them all through Steam… playing them isn’t really much of an option. Not sure if I need to change any settings or anything, but I just can’t get the original 3 games working on my PC. Anyway, about 5 years later, we got Jedi Outcast, and a couple of years after that, Jedi Academy, and THESE are the games I want to see making a return with a new addition. Outcast follows the same character from the original Jedi Knight games, Kyle Katarn, and even though he was a Jedi previously, at first the game is a first person shooter with no force powers. Eventually you are forced to re-train yourself and retrieve your lightsaber from none other than Luke Skywalker himself at the Jedi Academy. From there the game really picks up as now you can run around force shocking people and slicing them up with a lightsaber rather than having to rely on your FPS skills (which aren’t too great for me haha). Jedi Academy is set in the previously mentioned Jedi Academy, run by Luke Skywalker. You play a new recruit, who is being mentored by Kyle, and unlike Outcast, you start off with a lightsaber and basic force powers! That alone makes Academy my favourite of the two. Both games at the core have the same gameplay; a sort of Action/FPS/Platformer/Puzzle game. A bit of everything. Platforming and Puzzles are a key part of the game, as you must do these things in order to advance in levels. Then the game is what you make of it. You CAN play it as an FPS for the most part (not wise against other Jedi/Sith) if you want, or it can be more of an action game where you run around force shocking people and slicing tem up with a lightsaber! You can mix it up too, which is what I think you’ll likely find yourself doing as some situations will require you to shoot an enemy at a distance so he doesn’t slowly kill you as you are trying to make your way around the level. Neither game’s story is going to wow you, but both are fun enough to make you want to continue to the end. Yup, another game in this series would be very nice to see. Maybe you could pick which side you are on at the start, giving you both viewpoints, and unique missions depending on which side you are on, which both connect together within the same overall story. Improve the hit detection for the lightsaber fights, and make sure all the awesome force powers are still available and I guarantee it would be a hit!
Finally, The Force Unleashed. In a lot of ways this series does feel like a continuation of the Jedi Knight games. Similar gameplay with the force powers and lightsaber fights, only with the guns removed. However these games are set between Episode III and Episode IV, which is a completely different timeline (Last 2 Jedi Knight games are obviously set after Episode VI). The Emperor is still firmly in control, and Darth Vader is at his side ruling the galaxy. You play as Vader’s apprentice, whom he hides from the Emperor in hopes of you becoming powerful enough to help take him down, allowing Vader to rule. Most missions require you to fly to a planet and hunt down one of the remaining Jedi. The force powers are incredibly fun in this game, as there are combinations you can do to make things more interesting. For example, one of my favourites was using force push, then force lightning right after to explode the “ball” of force that push created, allowing you to explode nearby enemies! There are tons of unlockables here too, from different coloured lightsabers, different hilts (something that was available in Jedi Knight, but very very limited), different outfits and even the ability to unlock characters! Yup, if you want, you can roam around as The Emperor himself causing chaos! The Force Unleashed 2… well… let’s just say if a 3rd game is made, I hope they base it on the first game and not the second. TFU 2 took everything that was great about the first and stripped it down to a shell of its former self. I finished it in 1 sitting during my first time playing it, in around 3 and a half hours. And that was with me exploring. Which didn’t take up much time because the levels, while linear in the first game, are small closed off pathways and little more. The ending is terrible too. So much so that I didn’t even know it WAS the ending. I thought it was just another cut scene leading to more game. But nope. So yeah. More TFU 1 and none of TFU 2, only with even more options for customisation, bigger levels and new story. The first game is the fastest selling Star Wars game ever, so surely they did something right! Like I said already; 3 more films coming out gives gaming companies the perfect opportunity to cash in on hopefully the returning popularity of the Star Wars brand!
MARVEL: ULTIMATE ALLIANCE
Speaking of popular brands… probably nothing is more popular right now than MARVEL when it comes to an entertainment brand. Multiple films a year, a TV show + another TV show coming out soon + the chance of more being made = a LOT of people getting into the Marvel Universe, even if they aren’t comic book readers. The first Marvel: UA game was released in 2006, BEFORE the first Iron Man film and the resurgence of Marvel and comic book films in general. I got the game for the Wii, which was a launch title. Honestly I didn’t know what it was or anything about it. I bought my Wii without doing any kind of research, and I ended up buying launch titles the same way. Luckily I made the right choice, because UA is one hell of a game! It’s sort of a spiritual successor to the X-Men: Legends games from the previous gen consoles, only now instead of just the X-Men, it’s the entire Marvel Universe thrown in to one huge story… and that is just fecking AWESOME. A top down view sees you controlling a team of 4 heroes (that you get to pick a couple of missions in). An Action RPG that sees you hack and slash through waves of enemies while also being able to level up and gain new attacks unique to each character. And if you build up a special meter… you can unleash a super attack! The story is fantastic, as we see Dr Doom bring together some of the biggest villains in Marvel history. Nick Fury must assemble a team of superheroes to battle against them, and this sees you travelling around the world, to different dimensions and even into space! One of my favourite things is the ending, which shows you how your actions have affected the future. There are kind of “side” missions in each level, and depending on your choice to complete them or not, you can chance the future of the earth. And the end will run through all of these and explain what effect they all had. Pretty cool, especially the first time you play through the game and didn’t know. Made me play through again to make sure I did everything I could. The second game was released in 2009, right when Marvel was picking up a lot of steam due to the Iron Man film in 2008. Unfortunately they missed the mark and then some. They took everything that was great about UA and stripped it down to the bare bones. Upgrading was simple and lacked options. The story, while based on a GREAT comic book arc (from what I’m told, anyway) is played around with and turned into something rather mediocre, and most importantly, SHORT. The game can be beat in one sitting of about 4 hours (just like Star Wars: TFU 2 actually. In fact, BOTH games suffer from the same problem when going from the first, great game, to the second stripped down game). The controls are changed a little too, which don’t improve a damn thing because they were already perfect enough the first time around. The only improvement made here was the ability to mix up special attacks. In the first game, a special attack could be done by all 4 players at once, but here they actually worked together. For example, a 2 man special could be Iron Man shooting his laser at Captain America’s shield, causing the beam to split off and hit multiple enemies. They looked cool and were fun to pull off. Shame the rest of the game sucked. But like Star Wars, with the popularity of the Marvel brand, another Ultimate Alliance game would definitely get me excited, so long as they ensured it was good quality. Apparently they want to make an Avengers game, but are taking their time because they don’t want some mediocre/shitty film licensed game like so many others before it (including Marvel games). If we don’t get an UA 3… I’d LOVE for the Avengers game to be done in the same style as the UA and X-Men: Legends game! Make it happen Marvel! Just remember to base it more on the GOOD game and less of the short, simplified and crappy game.
DIDDY KONG RACING
I’ve talked about how there really are no modern day rivals in the 3D Platforming genre for Mario, and now it’s time to move on to Karting games. Realistic driving games? Tons of them. Karting games? Well, actually, quite a few… but Mario Kart still sits atop the mountain with even the closest competitor having to strain their neck looking up at them. Maybe have tried, and they have all failed. The closest right now (based on what I’ve played) is the new Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed game. The first one was awful, with some of the single worst controls I’ve ever experienced in a racing game. This time around, it seems perfect, right on par with the latest Mario Kart (8). However after playing for a while, I just wasn’t having fun. It was… kind of dull. Great looking levels, and 3 different vehicle types… but no fun. Diddy Kong Racing? FUN. And hey, it too had the different vehicle types as well, long before Sonic did it and even longer before Mario incorporated some of those ideas in their own way. Also, in what was a first back then on the N64; it had a story mode. Something that Mario Kart still hasn’t attempted to include in their hit series. Like Mario 64 at the time, DKR featured an open hub world for you to explore and choose which level you wanted to play next. Instead of collecting stars, you would get balloons for winning races, and these would combine to allow access to more levels and even BOSSES. Yup, a racing game with boss races! And then… nothing. No Gamecube game. No Wii game. We did manage to get a remake on the DS, which I made sure to get on release day, but I don’t want it remake, I want a new game in the series! I did read an interesting article online recently claiming that a new game IS coming out in 2015, but it’s all speculative so who knows what the real fate of the game is. One of the “supporting facts” so to speak in the article is how Diddy Kong isn’t in Mario Kart 8, suggesting that Nintendo held off on including him in favour of giving him his own exclusive game. However since I read that article, E3 happened and Amibos were announced, so it could be a case of Nintendo releasing Diddy Kong as an Amibo that can be transferred into Mario Kart 8 along with other characters. I still live in hope.
WWE DAY OF RECKONING
Unfortunately it seems that 2K won’t be bringing the WWE games over onto the Wii U. Whatever reasons they have, I’m sure they suck. Even the Wii was getting (albeit bad) ports of the PS2 games (after they gave up trying to make use of the motion controls), so why can’t the Wii U at least get PS3 ports? Is it really that hard to port the game to Wii U? The gamepad DOESN’T have to be factored in, if that’s part of the problem. We don’t need any fancy touch screen features if you don’t want to spend time working on them. The gamepad imo is a comfortable controller (which surprised me) and would be fine for a wrestling game, and if not, there is always a pro-controller or the upcoming Gamecube controller/Adapter. So no excuses there! Anyway, I’m getting off track already. Since we aren’t getting the latest WWE games on Wii U, how about you do what used to be done? Give Nintendo their own WWE game! The Gamecube was the last console to get its own unique WWE game, and oh boy did it ever RULE. Day of Reckoning 1 and 2 were both FANTASTIC games, which actually had features in them that are now being used in new WWE games. So come on 2K, how about you give us Nintendo fans DAY OF RECKONING 3? No crappy port with missing features, instead a game built solely for the Wii U. The gamepad, like I already said, doesn’t HAVE to be utilised, but hey, if you are building a Wii U WWE game from the ground up, why not take advantage of everything you have? Basic things like menu selections could be done with the touch screen, more information of match types and wrestlers could be displayed on it while the TV is used for the main visuals. During matches the screen could act as the player hub, showing how many finishers they have stored, their momentum meter, stamina, how injured their body parts are, along with the CPU/Opponents information too. But best of all, how great could the gamepad be for CREATE A WRESTLER? The TV shows the body of the wrestler, while all the options are selectable on the gamepad, allowing you to perfectly see your creation without the screen being filled with text and options and menus. Want to create a logo or a tattoo? DRAW IT with the gamepad! And it’s not just creating a wrestler where the gamepad can really come into its own; the other create modes could greatly benefit too. Creating a story? Hell yeah. The gamepad can act as a keyboard for starters, which would make typing out promos much easier if you don’t have immediate access to a compatible keyboard. You could also perhaps get a “timeline” to scroll through on the gamepad to view the entire story and access certain parts to edit or test. Creating a finisher could do something similar too. I could go on and on about gamepad features for the game. Aside from that, what I really want is a return of the old Story/Career modes. None of this “relive a past era” crap where it’s the EXACT same thing every match for the most part. Get a finisher. Hit a finisher. Pin opponent within 10 seconds of hitting a finisher. And then the cool part of the match like throwing Mankind off the HIAC is all done with quick time events and pre-animated cut scenes. BORING. If you haven’t played Day of Reckoning 1 and 2 (shame on you), then you might not know that the story mode from the first game actually continues into the second game! Yes, a wrestling game with a CONTINUED STORY. How crazy is that? DOR 3 could easily fit in within the same “universe” (for lack of better term) as the first 2 games, only with time having passed and now perhaps your CAW from DOR 2 is brought back as a mentor for your new, young and hungry up and comer CAW. Give us a lengthy, detailed and interesting story and I’d be the happiest wrestling fan that you ever did see. Honestly, I just see so much damn potential in the Wii U getting its own unique WWE game rather than getting a port of another system’s version (though we aren’t even getting that…). Unfortunately most 3rd Party developers have already forgotten about the poor old Wii U and are more interested in creating games with the most realistic graphics and dull repetitive game play we’ve seen a million times on the more powerful PS4 and Xbox One. And it’s a shame.
DRAGONBALL Z: ATTACK OF THE SAIYANS
Does anyone remember this game on the DS? If you are a fan of Dragonball Z, and like RPG’s (especially similar to Pokemon) then THIS is the game for you! Attack of the Saiyans puts the DBZ characters into a pokemon like environment with random battles, levelling up, new attacks and everything else you’d expect, except instead of trainer battles, it’s fighting the toughest warriors the universe can throw at you! Here, it focuses on the Saiyan Saga (and for some reason stars off with the Piccolo Jr Saga from Dragon Ball… but who am I to complain about that?), so your main battles are against Raditz, then finally Nappa and Vegeta. At the end of the game though, they tease us with an image of Frieza, hinting at a sequel focusing on the events of Namek. Unfortunately we never did get that sequel, and I’ve heard nothing about the game since. And that sucks. This wasn’t the first time Dragonball Z was put in a game like this; back on the SNES in Japan, they released a similar game that started off with the Saiyan Saga and went up to Frieza! However that game never did make it over here, but translated roms are a plenty, allowing you to play it on emulator. It’s HARD, very hard, but between that and Attack of the Saiyans, it looks like all we’ll get on the Dragonball Z RPG front for now.