Let’s talk about Gex, baby: Why Embracer should revive gaming’s worst mascot
I’ve got a soft spot for what, I’m told, are ‘shit games’. From Croc: Legend of the Gobbos to Summoner, my taste in old PlayStation titles is, admittedly, probably quite patchy. People tell me that being an apologist for Gex should see my right to write about games revoked – that I can’t possibly know what I’m on about if I’ve got a soft spot for the literal lounge lizard’s dodgy platforming and questionable taste levels.
To those people I say: I really hope we get a new Gex.
Some context; until very recently, the Gex franchise was owned by Square Enix – the Japanese developer acquired the Gex IP (probably reluctantly) when it purchased developer Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Interactive back in 2009.
So, now, more than ever, it’s actually more likely that we’ll see a new Gex game thanks to Embracer’s takeover of a suite of Square Enix IP. The deal, which was announced on Monday morning, came with a press release from the investor group that name-checked a wealth of titles (Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Legacy of Kain, and Thief) but didn’t even give a look-in to our smarmy, annoying, green friend.
It’s an outrage, frankly. The last Gex game – Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko on the PlayStation, Game Boy Color and Nintendo 64 – landed in 1999. So for us, the Gex hardcore, that’s a gap of 21 long, gecko-free years. In a world where we’re getting new Sonic games, Mario is at the peak of his popularity, Crash Bandicoot inexplicably got a sequel, and the platformer generally is making something of a resurgence, isn’t it time we give Gex another shot at the spotlight?
Everything is too wholesome these days; Sonic and pals are all eco-friendly and lovey-dovey, Mario is hopping around like he’s been downing too many uppers, and even those Yooka-Laylee nerds are smiling a bit too much for my liking in their squeaky-clean cartoon world. Isn’t it time we got an arrogant, wise-cracking reptile to put these whipper-snappers in their place?
With all the prestige TV out there at the moment, the level designers of Gex would have a field day giving the slimy little bastard things to lampoon. Game of Thrones, Succession, Ted Lasso, Stranger Things, Our Flag Means Death… there’s a wealth of themed worlds we could see Gex infiltrate and crack wise about, making his glib little comments and chuckling to himself as we force him through some God-forsaken on-rails shooter section or something. The joy of Gex was always that is was quite bad; Beavis and Butthead-level commentary on pop culture, all wrapped up in a 6/10 package.
But hey, with 15 million sales under his belt, it can’t just have been me sitting there and chuckling like a meathead at his dumb antics. There are dozens of us out there. Dozens! Given that Gex was initially dreamed up as a rival mascot for Crystal Dynamics, envisioned as an erstwhile rival to Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, I think a canny developer could do something great with Gex. Maybe even take him back to his 2D roots, give us that slick, sharp platforming we crave – build on the foundations that the modern Battletoads laid down, and really cash-in on that 90s nostalgia wave that’s doing the rounds right now.
But who would we get to voice Gex? It’s gotta be someone TV-relevant right now, and a lot of the 90s comedians are… probably not suitable any more. My vote would go to Nick Kroll, maybe – or perhaps even H. Jon Benjamin… that could even open up some kickass Bob’s Burgers and Archer-themed worlds. Hmm.
What I’m saying, basically, is that there’s a market for Gex out there right now. And that the world is ripe for his very own off-colour brand of satire. Let’s return to the golden age of irreverent platform mascots: first Gex, next Earthworm Jim. You know you want it.