Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Platform
Release Date: 02/10/03
Looking back on the evolution of the 3D platformer, the first game to actually succeed was none other than Mario 64. Looking back at that game today, it is amazing to see how many titles have tried to immitate the gameplay created by the legendary Miyamoto. Why would anyone try and copy the gameplay style of Mario 64? The gameplay worked. It worked very well. But even Nintendo realized when creating Super Mario Sunshine that while gamers want some familiar elements from past titles--they want to play a new game--with new things to discover and new moves to learn.
Acclaim is a publisher that has created a lot of controversy this year. At E3 last year, they showcased their "big new title" as BMX XXX. But the game sold very poorly due to the controversial use of strippers, adult language, and nudity. It also didn't help that the gameplay was average. While this title received the bulk of coverage Acclaim received last year, they also had Vexx tucked away in their booth. And while Vexx isn't a bad game, ultimately it fails to be much more than a Mario 64 clone.
In Vexx, players control a character by the same name. His world (Astara) has been enslaved by the evil wizard Yabu. He has the people of Astara under his control and when his grandpa is killed, Vexx uncovers a powerful weapon that Yabu had locked away in a chest. Once he wears these powerful claws, the Vexx is carried away to a tutorial world where you will learn all of the different moves our young Vexx can perform.
It is here where the gameplay first appears to be very reminiscent of Mario 64. Players jump, climb (with the claws), walk, and run like that famous plumber. While a lot of platformers have a similar aresenal of moves, Vexx comes off as feeling like Mario 64 except with claws. To its credit, the claws provide for some very violent moments. Vexx is a very dark game with more violence in it than Nintendo would ever put into their games staring the family friendly plumber.
Other gameplay elements that are different than Mario 64 include a day night cycle. Players can move a sunbeam device and change the time of day in the world of Astara. At night is when the the game can get very interesting because the enemies are much more vicious and will put up more of a fight. Not that they are ever very difficult... But it is a nice addition to the game. And there will be times when you must conquer areas at night.
The world of Astara is divided up into nine different areas. These levels are accessed from a central hub system. In order to access the other levels, Vexx must obtain shadowwrath hearts. He gets these by completing tasks in the game world. Like all other platformers, since Mario 64 introduced the star system, every game has its own form of the star. This proves yet again how influential the genius of Miyamoto is.
After acquiring enough of these shadowwrath hearts, Vexx is then free to journey to one of the other nine levels within the world. When entering a level, you will be given a vague description of what you should do next. To help you out, arrorws will be seen on signposts pointing in the direction you should be traveling. However, no matter what the objective is, you will always end up flipping switches, collecting items, fighting enemies, and defeating bosses.
Overall, if you are in need of a new platformer, Vexx might be a good choice. While the graphics are a bit dated, it will provide you with several fun hours of Mario 64 like gameplay. For those of you who are casual fans of the genre, I would recommend renting before purchasing. Hopefully this will be the first of many Acclaim platformers. I am confident the things they learned in the development of Vexx will be beneficial to them in creating future platformers.