Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ultra Review Roundtable: Jet Force Gemini (1999)

Ed. -- Time for another Ultra Review Roundtable, featuring Rare's Jet Force Gemini for the Nintendo 64.


*Summarized from Wikipedia* - Jet Force Gemini is a third-person shooter developed and published by Rare. It was exclusively released for the Nintendo 64 in late 1999. Created by the same Rare team that developed Blast Corps, the title features elements that have never been seen on the Nintendo 64, such as a no split-screen co-operative mode and a control scheme that features two ways to play the game. Jet Force Gemini shares elements with platform games, action-adventure games, and run and gun games.

Players assume the role of three members of Jet Force Gemini, the last remaining group of the once proud and strong military organization Jet Force. The main story arc encompasses the trio's quest as they try to stop the advances of the dark insect tyrant Mizar and his near limitless army. Throughout the game, the player will also have to collect several spaceship parts and save a large number of Tribals, a group of survivors who have been enslaved and prisoned by Mizar.

Jet Force Gemini is a third-person shooter with classic shoot 'em up style gameplay. Players control the playable character from a third-person perspective in a free three dimensional environment. The game features erratic levels to explore, items to collect, power-ups that enhance characters health and weaponry, towering bosses to defeat, and most importantly, it features devastation on a massive scale. Unlike other Rare shooters such as GoldenEye 007 or Perfect Dark, the weapons in Jet Force Gemini feature no magazines and cannot be reloaded after a certain number of shots.

Players fight on foot and have the ability to jump. Much of the game is spent in battle, but some parts feature platform mechanics, as the player can hang from most ledges, swim, and fly using Jet packs when needed. The control scheme introduced unique techniques that have never been seen since in a 3D shooter. In combat, the player is free to set a manual aiming system with the targeting camera fixed behind the character’s head. When using this technique, a reticle appears on screen and the playable character becomes translucent so that players can aim and shoot with finesse. In contrast, when walking around, the game plays much like a typical 3D platformer.

Exploration is the most important aspect of gameplay. The campaign features a galaxy that is composed of 15 nonlinear worlds, with areas connected by different types of doors. Most of the doors open automatically, but some need a special action to be unlocked. For example, some doors require the player to kill all the enemies in the area to be unlocked, and some can require a specific key, among others. On the other hand, players can take control of any and all three characters as they progress though the game, using their individual and unshared strengths where required; Juno can walk through magma safely, Vela can swim underwater indefinitely, and Lupus can hover for a short period of time. These abilities allow the characters to uncover new areas which the other characters cannot reach. Therefore, choosing the right character for the right stage is critical in order to complete the game. Initially, the game does not allow the player to tackle the different worlds with a desired character, and forces the player to use the three characters individually until they reach a meeting point. Once they get to the meeting point, all of the worlds can be tackled with any character in any order. The overall objective of the game is to explore all the areas in order to save all the Tribals and collect several spaceship pieces that allow the player to get to the final stage.

The game also features a multiplayer mode, where up to four player can battle out in traditional deathmatch and survival matches. Like GoldenEye 007, options such as weapon schemes, time limit, number of kills, or number of lives can be altered to match player preference. Additionally, some multiplayer aspects, such as levels and characters, can be unlocked by finding the corresponding secret in the game's campaign. Players can also unlock some racing mini-games, where players race from an overhead perspective, as well as a firing range mode, which is similar to a rail shooter like Virtua Cop. In this mode, players are limited to moving a crosshair around the screen while the game automatically follows a specific route. On the other hand, Jet Force Gemini also has a no split-screen co-operative mode that has not been seen in any N64 game to date. In co-operative, the second player takes control of Floyd, a floating robot that automatically follows the main playable character, and can assist him by shooting.

<Tag Lines>

"Jet Force Gemini is a profoundly powerful gaming artifact forged in the fiery intersection of Enjoyment and Immersion, cooling to form something simply Awesome." -

“I love the fact that if I don't want to rescue the Tribals, I can kill them all and often I did when it took me frustratingly long to find them.” -

“The graphics in Jet Force Gemini are still pretty crisp and have aged very well.” -

“Jet Force Gemini also has challenging and varied gameplay, if you can get past the
game’s control, design and camera limitations.” -

Mr.Armitage from octanetoys.comGame You Like That No One Would Expect: An old RPG called Transylvania.  I hate RPG's :)

The N64 is one of those systems I never really got into, one of the last of the cartridge based consoles. Sure I owned it and had a heap of games, but I never really played a ton of it. So what a shock I got when I played Jet Force Gemini! For some reason I kept on thinking it was a StarFox clone which is something I could never get into. This is a good game, actually it's an exceptional game for the N64. Probably one of my new favorites for the the system. The 3D graphics are probably some of the best on the system I have ever seen, so smooth which is a testament to how Rareware understood the N64 system like no one else. Game play is varied to say the least. Sound is good. Enemies actually have some good AI, with them working together, running around, and hiding behind stuff. Plus these is no shortage of them, so they will keep you on your toes. The controls are fairly responsive, yet sometimes confusing. It's probably one of the last Rareware games for Nintendo and they are not into making sucky games for Nintendo.

Now the game is not without some faults. The third-person view camera angles can sometimes be annoying. While the openness of the worlds is great, there where times I was truly lost on trying to find those Ewok clones the Tribals. I could spend an hour or so walking around thinking what the hell am I going to do in this level? I love the fact that if I don't want to rescue the Tribals, I can kill them all and often I did when it took me frustratingly long to find them. The control change between 3rd person and 1st person is a bit of a nightmare to remember. I constantly had to stop and look at my cheat sheet and see what did what. No Jump in First person, WTF.

Even with those faults it still a good game easily in my top 25. If some of the faults were fixed it would be in top 10 territory!

4 Shots Into the Wild out of 5

NintendoLegend from
Game You Like That No One Would Expect: Rec Room Games on the Nintendo Wii

Anything made by Rare back in the day was a big deal. Its biggest headliners on the N64 were legendary titles such as FPS titles Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, along with Donkey Kong 64, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and the Banjo-Kazooie series. However, one special experience that should not be ignored or overlooked in Rare's gaming repertoire is the sci-fi bug-blasting action masterpiece Jet Force Gemini.

With its galaxy-sized setting, multiple character/weapon/power-up combinations, remarkably innovative third-person/first-person view toggle system, engaging storyline garnering sympathy for the Tribals, gorgeous graphics, in-your-face epic soundtrack, perfectly scaling challenge, puzzle-solving, humor, atmospheric varied environments, fun co-op feature, hidden mini-games, other unlockables, enormous bosses, satisfying splatter, explosions, inventive guns, great inventory system, odd items, bugs, NPCs, jet packs, lava, shuriken decapitations, and a general philosophy of "if you just want to spend hours blasting the crap out of everything, go right ahead," Jet Force Gemini is a profoundly powerful gaming artifact forged in the fiery intersection of Enjoyment and Immersion, cooling to form something simply Awesome.

Amidst all the unimaginative sips of tasteless gaming drinks, Jet Force Gemini is a fine vintage wine. Anyone who does not like Jet Force Gemini is a big stinky doodoo head; or, at least, a Nintendo hater without a rational basis for their views.

5 Shots Into the Wild out of 5

Game You Like That No One Would Expect: D the Survival Horror Game

"I remember The Gem and I! With Yul Brynner, right? Now that he's gone, I tell you, don't smoke! He was a character, all right. Hee hee. With his gimp leg and his fondness for opium. No, wait, that was me. What were we talking about? Oh, right. Jet Force Gemini was a big fella who used to wrestle professionally. Or maybe he was a porn star. He owes me ten dollars!"

Jet Force Gemini is one of those almost-great games from the first-generation polygon console era. It's got colorful scenery, looking almost as good as Rare’s later StarFox Adventures for the Gamecube, and an interesting storyline introduced with a stirring opening cut scene. It also benefits from Rare's offbeat U.K. sense of humor: the Tribals are ruled by a King Jeff, who sounds very laid back, and "astonishingly" the red key opens the red lock! The sound design is evocative and crisp, with plenty of background atmosphere and a pleasant British voice introducing key gameplay elements, and the Nintendo 64’s limited texture memory is applied where it will do the most good.

Rare – We Do Ewoks Right!

Jet Force Gemini also has challenging and varied gameplay, if you can get past the game’s control, design and camera limitations. The platforming elements are tricky because the characters jump high, but not very far, and when running they don't exactly stop on a dime. While this looseness makes the animation more natural, it’s also easy to fall or slip into danger. The two-step aim-and-fire mechanism takes a little getting used to; it’s accurate enough. But the blend with a third-person perspective doesn't work well. It's hard to move around and fire with any sort of consistency or rhythm, and ends up feeling like a platformer and an FPS uncomfortably mashed into one game. The designs biggest problem is the camera and associated constraints on player movement. It's tolerable when we're exploring the game world, even when we really would like to take a look at something offscreen that the camera steadfastly ignores. But during intense bouts of combat against Mizar's ant warriors, the viewpoint sometimes hovers in just the wrong spot. We too often have to rely on the auto-fire to take out a foe we can barely glimpse at hiding behind a rock or stand out in the open taking hits, while we try to get a bead on a sniper. With limited ammo on hand, this just seems unfair.

I really like Jet Force Gemini's world and characters, however retro heresy though it may be, I'd probably be more interested in a contemporary remake than playing through the original. It’s a quality effort, but it hasn’t aged well. A great idea, still visibly on the edge of feasibility in 1999.

3 Shots Into the Wild out of 5

HagenDragmire from
Game You Like That No One Would Expect: Picross 3D on the Nintendo DS

Unlike some of the other members of the Ultra Review Roundtable, I was an avid Nintendo 64 player. I got the system the day it came out, and I frequently searched high and low to get my hands on the next game that was coming out on release day. That being said, I never got my hands on Jet Force Gemini until many years after I had moved on to the next generation. I always remember seeing the N64 VHS tape that had a preview of Jet Force Gemini on it. While this got me interested initially, for some reason or another I never picked the game up. Playing this game again after many years, I forgot how fun this game can be! Going back through games for the URR, I don’t go after them from a completest standpoint or an over-analyst point of view, but I go for the experience that it gives me during this newest play through combined with my nostalgia of the game.

Outstanding and fun!

Surprisingly, the graphics in Jet Force Gemini are still pretty crisp and have aged very well. Too many times have I went back to a game from the N64/PS1 era only to be disappointed from the blocky polygons and jumpy movements; I’m looking at you Final Fantasy VII. One thing that never bothered me back when I originally played the game was the controls. I guess I just took crazy controls for what they were and adapted. Nowadays, I’m a bit more unforgiving when a game brings me unnatural camera swaps and some floating jumping mechanics. The thing is, the action scenes are so fun to me that it doesn’t change my overall opinion of this outstanding game.

4 Shots Into the Wild out of 5

Ultra Review Roundtable
Overall Rating

4 Shots Into the Wild out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment