Design and inspiration
The alien's face and head structure are based on the Greys, the predominant extraterrestrial species present in both popular culture and the UFO and abduction phenomena. Its face expression is reminiscent of that in the test subject of the widespread alien autopsy video of the 1990s. Despite featuring a distinct nose and a mouth, the creature is somehow able to freely roam the vacuum of space and seems unconcerned with breathing. Its green skin coloration is likely based on the mid-20th century "little green men" motif, which preceded the Greys as the stereotypical depiction of extraterrestrials. Their knees bend backwards, similar to the aliens featured in the then-recent film The Arrival.
The alien wears a red Starfleet uniform similar to those used by the characters of the Star Trek series, its color being a direct reference to the redshirt trope of Trekkie culture. The garment features a golden triangle in the upper left corner, which although undetailed is reminesent in both shape and location of the classic "A"-shaped Starfleet insignia. It's lower sleeves, neck collar and abdomen are golden colored which makes it seem as a hybrid between the classic uniform design of the 1960s (which included golden service stripes in the sleeves and a prominent turtle neck design) and the 1980s redesign (which featured a distinct black coloration that extended from the abdomen to the feet).
The alien wields a lightsaber, a handheld weapon popularized by the science fiction Star Wars franchise, which eponymous to its name possesses a blade made entirely of light. The weapon is a dark shade of purple, which was a color that had yet to make an appearance in the series when Gex: Enter the Gecko was released, and its coloration may have been a reference to the opaque red lightsabers used by the dark lords known as Sith in Star Wars (in contrast to the lighter blue or green shades used by the heroic monk-warriors known as Jedi). However, Episode II: Attack of the Clones released four years later dissolved this dichotomy and even introduced a similar (albeit of a lighter shade of) purple lightsaber which was wielded by Jedi Master Mace Windu. The blade of the alien's weapon is also significantly larger than those featured in Star Wars, being longer than the proportions of its body, but like its inspiration it featured a hilt made of metal (albeit seemingly trapezoid in shape). Crystal Dynamics also made sure to include the weapon's characteristic sound when it is swung (attributed to the ionization of the surrounding air, despite the Rocket Channel stages taking part in the vacuum of space). Curiously, despite the fact that the blade initially emerges from the hilt as a beam of light, after the alien is defeated the remnants of the weapon behave like a fluorescent lightbulb, turning off and breaking apart upon hitting the floor.A variant of this enemy is instead seen piloting hexagonal one-seat spaceships, reminiscent of both stereotypical flying saucers and the TIE starfighter series of Star Wars due to the presence of solar panels on the opposite ends of the ship (left and right in relation to the pilot's cockpit). The design also includes several alternating light of various colors and a beeping sound. While flying these vessels, the aliens may simply hover around a designated area peacefully or may fly into Gex at high speed while shooting three red-colored beams from the ship's mounted blaster cannons. The spaceship also makes the pilot invulnerable, serving more as a platform or obstacle than an actual enemy.
Behavior and strategy
When not paying attention to Gex, the Lightsaber Alien will strut slowly around a certain area and can be detected at a distance by the slow clip-clop sound produced by their steps. Once it notices Gex, it will pause for a second while it activates its weapon and looks at its blade as it extends. The Lightsaber Alien then slowly marches towards Gex with the blade held high. Once within reach, it will perform a wild swing which leaves it spinning in place and vulnerable to attack. If defeated with a blow to the body they throw their lightsaber into the air and it may land on Gex. If low on health, it is advised to decapitate the alien by tail whipping its head, since that way the lightsaber is turned off. However, this safe approach also has the drawback that it does not produce the collectibles that the weapon otherwise leaves behind once it disappears after hitting the ground.
Oddly, in the same levels that the Lightsaber Alien appears, Gex is able to wield a green lightsaber which features a more intricate design (possessing an accurately shaped hilt and even a light aura that surrounds its blade) than the enemy's weapon and behaves with more faithfulness to the Star Wars canon (retreating into the hilt as if made purely of light). However, it is only used as a gimmick when he is standing still and does no damage to surrounding enemies or even interact with them. Despite this, the box-art for the Nintendo 64 version of Gex: Enter the Gecko features a promotional image that appears to show a purported lightsaber duel between both. A similar scene can be recreated in the actual game by luring a Lightsaber Alien to one of the air stations, where Gex is invulnerable to damage, and standing still until he swings the blade.