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