Review / Test:
Dark Jabu is going to learn that this little monster called Vexx is not easy to tame, and you players should know that too. Once you did tame it though, you might love him and his game. Because he killed his grand pa and enslaved his people, Dark Jabu should expect no mercy from Vexx, just wait that he creeps up the 9 levels and gather 60 hearts and he'll show him how it feels to unleash the fury which has been growing inside a vengeful heart.
But as we told you, it won't be an easy task. It's not only because the planet Astara and its floatings levels are very tough, packed with ever-coming enemies and built with dangerous platforms rising above the deadly void, you also have to deal with one most unwelcomed enemy: a very annoying camera system. Many people complained about Super Mario Sunshine's camera, it's nothing compared to Vexx's though. It just doesn't obey. As soon as you are not in a completely free space, near a wall for instance, the camera has trouble to follow correctly and to adjust by itself. Same goes if you try to give a specific position, it doesn't keep it for long. It turns into hell when you are moving or fighting on some dangerous platforms and sometimes the camera goes fooling around or just look in the wrong direction. It can be lethal also, if during a fall you count on the view to catch a platform below... You can ease the camera control thanks to a couple of tricks: don't bother trying to move the camera in a different place when it's pre-set, it'd only make it worse, and remember that the best way to place the camera when it refuses to move is to use the first person view.
When playing Vexx, you can't help thinking of other games: there's a long jump like in Mario 64 along with a snow bridge and slide, some grids to hang on like in Mario Sunshine, the floating levels and the giant stone heads remind Starfox Adventures, and the hearts look like the souls in Acclaim's Shadowman. The makers clearly got inspired by some other works (or is it a huge coincidence ?) though the game has its own personality and ideas which prevail. One of the strongest influences is Mario's 3D adventures, Vexx collects Shadowraith Hearts like Mario collects Shines, and new levels open when he's gathered enough. Each level is divided into a mission to get a heart, one great idea is the use of a four lines riddle to help you to find them. You also get a heart by collecting a hundred shards and six jars, it sounds again very much like the golden and red coins challenge of Mario. Unlike Mario Sunshine though, there are less hearts in total (80), but they are more worlds and the difficulty level is higher (good news, you don't have to find anything like blue coins). If the camera is a real pain, Vexx control saves it all, maybe because it too feels very much like Mario 64, and who would complain about that ?
In addition, Vexx benefits from a dynamic fighting system powered by his Astani War Talons with uppercut, back kick, shower of punches, ground pound and more. He also has a power bar to dash and shoot laser. Thanks to all this, it's really fun to fight. Having so many movements and attacks can become little confusing at times, but on the whole it controls like a dream. Swimming under water is great too, you are propeled by your gauntlets like if Vexx was using some kind of engine. It's less easy at the surface however. Along with the camera, another deficiency in the game is the graphics. Although there are some nice things to see around like some vast landscapes and towering buildings, Vexx's graphics are technically outdated. You can see very far and even zoom, but at what cost ! The backgrounds especially seem to come from the Nintendo 64, all square and poorly textured.
It's a pity; because of this the average player will probably not bother looking deeper into the game while it's really worth it. The characters are less rough-angled but are not so good either, though here it's a problem of style, they don't have much appeal. Except Vexx, the characters feel tasteless (the pirates, boo !) and so do the enemies. Most are nice actually: the puggles, the grimkins, the hobbletrods, but for whatever reason they feel too common, maybe because they look too small or, again, because the gaphics are too plain. Fortunately, the music is not on par with the graphics and is rather enjoyable with some unusual sounds like violin and choir. The sound effects are surprinsingly good too, with nice voice acting (in 5 languages in Europe !) and some thundering noises whether it is Vexx's attacks or enemies' screams. Acclaim did a true good job here.
Vexx is quite an ambiguous game. It has some utterly detestable drawbacks like the feeble graphics, a dreadful camera, a style sometimes disappointing and, perhaps, too many borrowings from other games but it has also some of the most important qualities a game needs, and I'm not talking about the music here. The gameplay is good, the game is very challenging and hard to beat but I believe interesting for both pro and beginner, and the most laudable surely, it's very fun to play. In some aspects, I had as much fun, or more, to play Vexx as I had to play Mario Sunshine. The further you go, the harder it becomes to get each heart, but unlike Mario, I don't think there's any heart which is too easy or too frustrating to obtain (some are awfully hard though, like in the Citadel of Shadows), all of them feel very rewarding. Forgive Acclaim for the few mistakes they made and go for a journey with Vexx, if you like titles that challenge and entertain you, you will definitely not regret it.
Samurai Nintendo thinks this game is not suitable for children (it's a little scary and violent)
Official story and features:
"On the forsaken remains of what was once the proud planet called Astara, the villagers of Rockhaven lead difficult but peaceful lives, until the day the Shadowraith, "Dark Yabu," and his minions swept down from the sky. With terrible ferocity and ruthless efficiency they descended upon the townsfolk, enslaving them to work deep in the caves that surrounded their village. Dark Yabu murdered the grandfather of the young Vexx, who managed to quietly escape aboard the enemy's windship. There, locked deep within Yabu's sanctum, was the last pair of War Talons, which leapt from their chest onto Vexx's outstretched hands, and bonded to his arms and giving him special powers. Prepared to meet his destiny, Vexx embarks upon a heroic quest through volcanic islands, desert temples, frozen citadels, and giant's castles, to confront Dark Yabu high atop the Landspire, save his people, and avenge the death of his grandfather."
Story from Acclaim site
"- 9 extraordinary worlds, spanning tree canopy villages, mysterious caves, desert temples, underwater cities, frozen citadels and more
- Over 70 player objectives throughout 30-hours of game play
- Central hub system allows players to travel between worlds at their leisure
- Free climbing mode allows players to climb uneven surfaces and dangle beneath overhangs
- Day and night cycles with real-time lighting. Darkness changes the landscape and characters: enemies become more aggressive and the environments become more hostile
- Ultra-responsive player controls that reacts instantly to player inputs: players can cancel a move midway through and fire off extensive combo attacks
- Hidden sundials allowing players to change the time of day
- Advanced environment mapping produce reflections, glows, and highlights on Vexx's metal gloves and knee guards
- Highly flexible cinematic camera system
- Epic soundtrack and stunning 3D surround sound effects"
Features from Acclaim site