I saw that a few years ago Square Enix were open to pitches for some of their acquired game licenses including one of my favourite games of all time: Gex.
Well I missed that open pitch time. But they still haven’t brought out a new Gex game in years and with the recently discovered Gex Junior CD-R its entered the public consciousness again briefly. So I thought I would outline my pitch to Square and all Gex fans and see if we can grass roots something if people dig it.
First for those that don’t know or remember: Gex was a series of games released back in the 3DO, N64, PS1 days and started as a 2D side scroller but had a couple of 3D entries including – in my opinion – one of the best 3D platformers of all time (yes its horribly flawed and buggy but the overall experience was better than the sum of its parts) Gex: ENTER THE GECKO!
Gex watches too much TV and his nemesis is REZ who is always screwing around trying to destroy the Media Dimension; where all tv shows and movies come from. To save entertainment Gex has to defeat Rez. Pretty simple. What made the games so fun was that Gex would enter various themed levels based on different genres and the art assets, collectibles and world design would reflect these. Giving the feeling of a lot of variety even though some of it was artificial. He’d also wear costumes based on the themes (Such as wearing a Lost in Space uniform in the Sci-fi levels.)
Gex was voiced in America by Dana Gould and would spout references and one liners constantly of pop culture (which of course has dated like crazy now!) Part of why I think Gex never became another Crash or Spyro is because in other markets such as the UK they would have him voiced by a local comedian and the references “localised” and in England that was one of the Carry on dudes and the jokes just don’t land. Even though Europe eats up all American TV and this game makes fun of American TV no one thought they would get the American jokes? Short sighted and also killed you don’t know jack by dubbing those in the UK too.
As a filmmaker, film fan and gamer I have always had an idea of how I’d like to see a new Gex, but why even pitch? Well for one the world has re fallen in love with Platformers; Crash and Spyro both made big comebacks and we’re living in an ever more meta society. And while some elements are integral to Gex (Parodies, references, trash talking, etc.) other elements will have to change and update for today.
So how would I do a new Gex game in the 2020s with PS5 and high powered PCs and all that jazz? Well…
Story wise it’d be old school simple: Gex has been retired living off the success of his previous adventures and raising a family. It’s been years since Rez has been seen as his influence has been limited to old VHS copies of the media he corrupted. Unfortunately boomers have moved from Vinyl to VHS for their next craze and digitised him from VHS into YouTube, granting him access to the internet and all streaming services and gaming devices – where he is now corrupting the Multi-Media Dimension.
At first when the government comes crawling back asking for Gex’s help he turns his nose up at them (or more likely his tail!) but then Rez ruins his favourite cooking show by invading the food network and that is the last straw. Gex enters back into the Media dimension to take down Rez once and for all.
(Along the way twists will come when Gex realises his family followed him into the media dimension and Rez has kidnappped him – saving his wife, Gex Jr. and his dog are the three first bosses and then finally against Rez himself to save streaming)
Gameplay wise: Gex would be similar to Enter the Gecko, there would be an over world modelled as a side scroller based on a Netflix style streaming service user interface with some content locked off by a 5 star system – Gex starts at zero stars and has to earn to access the hardest levels.
Once inside a world, the assets of the world and all aspects are based on the genre or property he is in. While the visual appeal, story, enemies and concepts would be based on popular media or films – the gameplay style would change based on property.
HERE IS THE CONTROVERSAL PART OF MY PITCH:
If I was designing and producing this game, I would be putting in the core concepts, design and function of the over world, boss battles and art direction – but I would aim to hire multiple independent studios to design and create the individual levels themselves with their own gameplay styles; giving both visual and gameplay parody and variety – but I do feel if only one studio tried to do them all, there is only so much they can apply their time to so many styles not unified by one gameplay set.
Adventure stories, Indiana Jones style stuff – third party platforming.
Fast and furious franchise – Over the top racing game.
Marvel films – Third party beat em up.
Action films – FPS gameplay.
Sci-Fi – GTA for space, third person planet exploration with space ship sections.
And so on.
I feel like a truly fleshed out modern Gex game should be around 80 levels long with replay ability not far off the recent Crash 4, mixture of collectibles and remixed levels. The level of unique gameplay, costumes, collectibles and themes you could have would give a lot of variety to the game and attract quite a few kinds of gamers. As long as each gameplay type was quite complete. With engines such as Unreal 5 Being so scalable, it shouldn’t need multiple engines or even an over haul of assets.
And as amazing as Dana Gould was as Gex, I feel like there is one person who could replace him for a new generation that would be amazing… Bill Burr.
Square Enix, are you listening?