Tag Archives: acclaim

Day 3: A Game That is Underrated

Today’s topic of the 30 day game posts, as you can guess, is a game that’s underrated, and the first game that comes to mind is “Vexx”.  I’ve actually written about this game before.  “Vexx” is quite a wonderful game, but I have only met one other person that has played it.  It is a platformer made by Acclaim, for the GameCube, XBox, and PS2, and while very few have heard of it, it is a very fun, very unique game I think many would enjoy.

            I love this game so for many reasons.  For one, the locations are unique and beautiful.  Vexx’s world was torn apart, so each location is floating.  And each place is so different.  There’s the strange tower behind the waterfall in Timberdale.  The desert with the giant dragon skeleton and a maze of underwater tunnels below.  There’s the giant dome of water in the Below, where you’ll find smaller domes with various puzzles and challenges inside.  There’s also the lovely Summit of the Sages, home of three giant stone heads with vastly different secrets inside.  As time passes in these places, the locations change as day turns to night and back again.  Nighttime sees enemies become more vicious and the music more sinister, making you want to run and find a sundial to change time back to the relative safety of day.  The music in this game is beautiful, as well, consisting of violins and pianos and other such things.  The game is quite a challenge, too, which is nice when so many games nowadays are too easy.

            The game is also filled with variety.  You collect Shadowwraith Hearts to progress to the next world, and each one has a riddle associated with it.  Solve this riddle, and the heart is yours.  Sometimes this involves platforming.  There’s the occasional boss battle (this game actually has few of those, which is good, because they are tough).  There are times when you must collect items, like soul jars and heart shards.  There are puzzles, as well, like the block puzzle in Daggercrag and the statue puzzle in the Below.  The riddles are a lot of fun, and in a small way, I like to think of it as a platformer version of “The Legend of Zelda”.

            The game is not perfect, though, and is lacking in some areas.  There is very little story in the game and very few characters, as well.  But, the game is still fun enough and the gameplay varied enough to make up for that.  And Vexx, the main character, has personality of his own.  This guy has attitude, and while he’s small, he, like the game, should not be underestimated, as he has some razor sharp Astani War Talons to pummel his enemies with.  Plus, I can’t dislike someone who flips off the main villain.  Or kicks a goblin-like creature in the you-know-where to get an item the fiend’s holding out of reach.

            So there it is, “Vexx”, an extremely underrated game.  Sure, this is not the game to play if you’re in the mood for complex stories and interesting characters, but it’s still a very fun game to play, nonetheless.  It can be pretty darn hard, too, but it’s fun enough that I wanted to keep trying.  I loved the challenge and the variety and the unique locations and music, which all make this game really stand out for me.  If anyone wants to try out a game that isn’t so well-known, give “Vexx” a chance.  At the very least, it won’t be something you’ve seen a million times before.

Shadowwraith Duck

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Vexx Songs, the Best Music No One Has Ever Heard

“Vexx” has some really good, unique music, so I needed to do my top ten songs.  These songs are complex and awesome, and I didn’t even really realize how good they were until I really listened to them.  I love how you can hear the individual instruments so well.  The poor developers went all out on this game that most people never even knew existed.  The least I can do is help share this game’s music.  I included links to Youtube, like usual.

            10. “Tempest Peak Manor (Night)” is played at night in this particular world.  It is a bit spooky.  That piano sounds evil.

            9. “Dragonreach (Day)” is played during the day time in world two, Dragonreach.  Certain parts fit the desert landscape well.

            8. “Citadel of Shadows” is the final world of the game.  The music goes really well with this dark, utterly horrible place.  Oh, the engine rings.  The engine rings…

            7. “Dungeon” (I couldn’t think of a better title, so I hope the person who used this title won’t mind me using it, too) is played in several random levels.  It is similar to the volcano in the Below, but not quite.  I like the violin.  It gives this sad, hopeless feeling to the song, I think, which is the feeling the player sometimes gets from falling to their death repeatedly.

            6. “Summit of the Sages, Inside Vexx’s Head” is the music that plays in the giant stone Vexx head on the mountain of Summit of the Sages.  It’s a creepy song that features a piano and violin, I think.  It starts off slow, gaining speed later, with some really creepy sounds at the beginning.  Actually, chilling is more the word to describe it.  It sounds like the far off wail of a ghost.  I keep listening to it, and I still feel a twinge of something in my stomach whenever I hear that noise.  It almost gives me goose bumps.  Or duck bumps, I guess.  I really like the piano, followed by a violin, around 2:16.

            5. “Summit of the Sages, Inside the Middle Head” is what I’ll call the music that plays in the middle of the three giant heads in the side of the mountain in Summit of the Sages.  This music is interesting and has a good beat.  I like the piano, especially the stuff that starts in at around 0:32, and then the song really gets going.

            4. “Dragonreach, Spooky Place” is my not creative title to the area in Dragonreach with the ghosts.  This music makes the area really spooky, especially when the voices start around 1:00 in and the longer vocals at 1:32.  I especially like 0:30 to 1:11 or so.

            3. “The Below (Day)” is a lovely song that plays in the water level during the day.  It’s slow and beautiful and sounds like maybe a cello or something to me.

            2. “Timberdale (Day)” plays in the first world.  It is a nice song to start the game off with.  It’s hard to describe, but it’s awesome and has a lot of parts to it.  The person’s description of the song below the video describes it much better than I do.

            1. “Tempest Peak Manor (Day)” plays in the manor during the day.  It starts off slower and then gets faster.  It’s always been my favorite song, since the first time I ever played the game.  I like the very beginning and 2:04 to 2:22 the most.

Tempest Duck Manor

It Vexxes Me That No One Has This Game

Like “Okami”, “Vexx” is another game that I kept noticing years ago and kept passing by.  Finally, I decided to buy it, and like “Okami”, it wasn’t in regular stores anymore.  I finally tracked it to a game store (it was the last new copy there) and got it, and I’m so glad I did.  I ended up finding that “Vexx” is a hugely underrated, really wonderful game that most people overlook.  In fact, I only once met someone that had played this game.  He was just as surprised to find a fellow “Vexx” fan as I was.  We used to play that game together, but I have now not seen that person in about seven years, so this game is now not only a great game on its own, but it has some important memories with it, as well.

            So who is Vexx?  Vexx is a creature from the world of Astara.  Astara was invaded a long, long time ago (possibly in a galaxy far away, but I’m not sure), when the Astani opened up a rift, and the Shadowwraiths, led by the evil Dark Yabu (not to be confused with Jabu Jabu from “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”), came through.  Almost all of the Astani were killed, and centuries later, Vexx’s people were enslaved.  While working in the mines, Vexx got fed up and attacked Yabu and would’ve died if his grandfather, Vargus, didn’t protect him.  Yabu killed Vargus and Vexx, luckily, was able to get away, and he ended up finding the Astani War Talons.  These talons apparently have a life of their own and fused themselves to his hands.  And then, Vexx set out on a quest to kill Yabu and avenge his grandfather.

           Not only do I love this game, but I’ve always liked the character of Vexx, as well.  He’s a tough little dude, he has attitude, and he even sometimes flips Yabu off at the start of the final battle, which always cracks me up.  Even better is that in one level, he kicks this goblin dude in a certain spot (you know where…) in order to get a soul jar.  That poor goblin looked close to crying.  That is enough to make Vexx awesome.

            But, I haven’t told you about the game’s awesomeness yet, have I?  Okay, well, this game is a platformer, with nine huge worlds set around a central hub.  Vexx must find Shadowwraith hearts to power the hub so he can reach Yabu.  Each world has about nine or ten of these freakish hearts, with 81 in total.  I always found them to be very fun items to collect.  They look like real hearts and are still beating.  You know one is near because the beating gets faster and louder, and you can even feel it in the controller.  To find each heart, you read a little clue in the form of a small poem each time you enter a world.  This game requires a good bit of thinking in order to figure out what the clue means, which I’ve always enjoyed.

           And there is a good variety of things you must do, too.  Yes, lots of climbing to the tops of things, of course, but also puzzles like the one in the statuary or the room with the blocks in Daggercrag, or a few battles, like with the huge sumo wrestler or a mummy that apparently has Samus’s morph ball ability.  Other times, you must collect 100 shards or 6 soul jars.  Defeat your inner demons in a game.  Use the sundial to change to the correct time to make a portal open somewhere in the level.  Whatever it is you must do, this game ended up being quite a challenge and tons of fun.

            Another thing I like is that this game also has some creative levels and creatures.  Each level is a large floating area, as Astara was broken apart, but that’s not just what is different.  You can explore the huge Tempest Peak Manor, whose only remaining resident is the pet, a ravenous snarling dinosaur-like creature that waits for Vexx to become its snack.  (I always felt bad for the poor thing.  I wish I could knock that huge steak to the floor so it wouldn’t be so famished.)  There is also the Below, a huge dome filled with water, home to a large sea creature that’s swallowed a trio of pirates named Nasty, Brutish, and Short.  (I used to not mind them, but now they really creep me out.  Especially Nasty.  I am not turning my back on that ugly freak.  Short, though, also looks like he has the potential to murder me….  I’m watching you both.)  The enemies are also quite bizarre, and they get extra mean at night.  Fortunately, you can use the sundial to change time, so you can keep it at daytime, when the beasts aren’t as beastly.  And it’s fun to spin the sundial and watch the sky change quickly.  I feel powerful.

            I thought it was funny to mention my efforts to reach the landspire (I believe that’s what it’s called), a tall white tower that you can see floating off to the side of some levels.  I tried to get there once.  Vexx can grow wings and fly in certain places, so I had him fly in Dragonreach.  I was so excited.  I had a limited time, but I was almost to the landspire.  Just a bit farther…  And then Vexx flew right through it.  No!  Darn you for taunting me, Acclaim!  I thought it was a real place, and I was being all clever reaching it!  Boo, Acclaim, boo!  Hiss!

            Anyway, I have a few small complaints with this delightful game.  One thing that saddens me is that I wish this game had more of a plot.  It’s mainly in the beginning cut scene, and I think they could’ve done much more with Yabu.  He had the potential to maybe be a good villain (if there’s such a thing), but they didn’t do much with him.  Also, sometimes the graphics freak me out a little, like on Darby.  What on Astara is wrong with his face!  What is wrong with it!  My other complaint is the final boss battle is absurd.  It’s ridiculous.  I despise it utterly.  I hate you, Yabu!  I.  Hate.  You.

            Despite my few problems, this game is just awesome.  I’ve beaten it four times now and gotten all the hearts a couple times.  I wanted to get 100% again this time both because it’s fun and to make sure I still can.  Don’t want to slack off.  Surprisingly, the game seemed much easier now.  It’s nice to see I’ve improved.  And it helps that I try to stay much calmer now.  I used to freak out.  Now I’m as cool as…a frozen pizza.  (Which I’m eating once I’m done dieting.  Yum.  Pizza.)

            And while I play this great game, sometimes I think about when I used to play with my friend.  I would help him get through difficult levels.  I remember specifically this area in the snowy place that was truly dreadful.  Way up high, there were platforms that would flip every few seconds, and if you weren’t careful, you’d tumble to your doom.  I don’t remember if we made it or not.  And I remember the time he decided to mess with the color on his TV, so it was all very pink for a while.  It was funny, though I certainly wouldn’t let him do that to my TV.  Nuh-uh.  Proper colors are satisfactory for me, thank you very much.

           Ah, the memories.  Plus the game.  Equals perfection.  If only that game store didn’t put a sticker on the cover.  I picked it off, and it left a sticky area, and all kinds of crud stuck to it, and yeah.  Rather distressing.  Despite that incident, which I still haven’t totally healed from, great game.  It’s not often I try a game that’s not so well known and get lucky, but this time, I did.  But, that stupid sticker.  Why do they put stickers on everything!  Why!

Astani War Ducks, We’re Fierce

You Didn’t Know What Fear Was Until

You’ve played a creepy game called “Porky Pig’s Haunted Holiday” for the Super Nintendo.  It’s an old game, obviously, but I just can’t get over the creepiness.  It’s the creepiest game I have.  You would think it would just be a fun kind of creepy, and there isn’t really anything in it that is that scary, but the whole game gives you an uneasy vibe that seeps down into your very soul.  I can feel it just by thinking about it.  And I don’t like it.

            In this game, Porky ventures from his house, I guess, through a whole bunch of creepy places.  And to make matters worse, you can’t save, so if you want to beat it, you must suffer through hours of horror like I did, unable to escape.  No breaks, just trapped in a disturbing world of spookiness to rival Stephen King’s “1408”, but in video game form, and it just goes on and on and there seems to be no escape and then it’s finally over and you’re okay and all you have is the memory of this freakish journey that will haunt you the rest of your life.  Okay, maybe it’s not quite as bad as that, but it is true that this game will probably give you the creeps.  But, what exactly is so creepy about a game starring a stuttering cartoon pig?

            Well, for one thing, the music.  It’s just creepy.  I can’t even think of a better word.  The music in world 2 is the worst, but the underwater world isn’t much better, especially before you go underwater.  I have the world 2 music in my head right now.  Guh, get out of my head!  And then there’s the actual levels…

            You start the game off in a forest, complete with leprechauns, evil shoes, and walking cauldrons.  After traversing many branches and spider webs and the like, you fight a dorky ghost.

            After suffering through that, you reach the creepiest place, world 2.  This one, in general, really freaks me out.  It’s an abandoned, old Western town that is spooky right off the start.  Even the sun creeps me out.  This world also features weird little hopping coyotes, stuffed moose heads with the ends of rifles sticking out of their mouths that they shoot at you with, weird trains that go by over and over again when you get near the tracks.  And like I said, the music.  Oh, horror!

            After that dreadful ordeal is world 3, which starts off above the water, and then the rest is under the water.  The music at the beginning also creeped me out, though I can’t really remember it.  It is quite an annoying place to be in, and it isn’t as creepy as world 2, but it is difficult, so I get stuck in parts for a long time, prolonging the horror.  It took many attempts throughout the years before I could beat it.

            After that is a confusing mine with some music that sounds very familiar.  You would think a mine would be creepy, but this place wasn’t too bad, though I remember wandering aimlessly a lot and falling into deeper passageways quite often.

            After that is a super random place that is easy to get lost in.  There is also very odd music, and I believe there are different versions of the background, and one has eyeballs.

            Last of all, a castle that I don’t remember too well.  But, one thing’s pretty much for certain.  It was likely creepy.

            Another random thing they have throughout the worlds is Daffy, who shows up and then laughs evilly at you with fangs and scares Porky into jumping high.  And I think Porky himself is creepy in this game.  And when he dies, he kind of turns into smoke and disappears.  Okay then.

            This game really gives me the creeps, and I only played it because I was determined to beat it just once, but I’ll never play again.  In fact, I need to just sell the thing.  But, would it be wrong of me to spread this infection of the mind to another unwitting victim?

            Is that just what it wants me to do…?

A Spooked Duck