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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Platformer

 

Publisher

Acclaim

 

Developer

Acclaim, Austin

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Very capable platformer

- Easy control

- “Juggling” enemies can be fun

 

 

- Camera could have used more work

- Borrows most of its ideas from other platform games

 

 

Review: Super Mario 64

Review: Ratchet & Clank

 

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Vexx

Score: 7.8 / 10

 

Platformer fans will probably enjoy Vexx and be able to just jump right in, especially those that have warm memories of Super Mario 64 (N64).  Vexx is a darker, less cheery character than Mario and for good reason.

 

Vexx’s home town/plane of existence, Astara, is under attack by the “sinister forces of Shadowwraith Dark Yabu and his devoted minions” and it’s against this backdrop that Vexx finds the Astani War Talons that provide that means to defeat Yabu and save the world.  There’s a whole lot more story to be found in the course of the game than your typical platformer, like how Yabu began his onslaught.  It’s almost as if Vexx could have been made an RPG with some modifications but I digress.

 

vexx gamecube review          vexx gamecube review

 

I’ll cut to the chase, the camera needed some work.  It’s manually controlled by the C-stick and you’ll be adjusting it – constantly.  Even though most times Vexx moves at a regular pace the camera does not adjust well.  This is especially evident when climbing hills.  It can lead to encounters and jumping puzzles that are made harder than they need to be.

 

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Every other platform convention is met except the warm-cuddly nature of most characters typical of the genre; however, he only goes halfway.  Sure he collects hearts – actual hearts – that are akin to Mario 64’s stars but with razor sharp claws you’d expect dismemberment.  I expect this design decision was due to the Teen target audience.

 

Anyway, collecting hearts is the main goal and on each level there are 8 of them.  Before entering a 

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level, Vexx can choose which heart to go after.  This is kind of a moot point since they can be collected in pretty much any order, but Vexx won’t have big arrows leading the way.  The big arrow feature comes in handy as most levels are huge, although it does kill some of the fun of exploration.  Once a heart is collected, Vexx returns to the hub level (like Princess Toadstool’s castle in Mario 64) where he transfers the heart’s power to the central core to open other levels.  Collecting all the hearts is not necessary to reach the final showdown.

 

vexx gamecube review          vexx gamecube review

 

Presentation is one of Vexx’s strongest aspects.  He’s animated well and the power-up suits look cool.  A nice touch on the outdoor levels is the rotating boulders in the background or how time passes and affects the lighting.  But music is pretty much forgettable.  Every platform game should have a strong theme to play off of – who can’t hum a few bars of Mario music? – but the sound effects are satisfying.

 

Performing Vexx’s various moves is a snap.  Predictably, most of his moves revolve around his talons.  They allow him to power through water, climb walls, and smash enemies in a variety of ways.  Of equal importance is jumping.  Combing the two is a must especially if you want to partake in "juggling" enemies.

 

While Vexx may not be as original as it might make itself out to be, it borrows enough from a true high water mark game, Mario 64, to be very playable and easy to look at making it a solid rental more than anything else.  Aside from the camera, the conventions have been nailed, unfortunately, most gamers want a bit more than that.

 

- Omni

 

(March 16, 2003)

 

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