Jet Force Gemini

Jet Force Gemini
Jet Force Gemini Cover
Platform N64
Genre Gory Sci-Fi Run-and-Gun
MtAMinutes to Action 14
Score 5  Clock score of 5Gameplay: 4
Fun Factor: 5
Gfx/Sound: 6
Story: 2
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Jet Force Gemini is a Nintendo 64 third-person shooter game released by Rare in 1999. Looking back, it seems like such an odd game: twins Juno and Vela fly around in a space ship and save furry creatures from the evil empire. But when I think about it more closely, Jet Force Gemini really seems like the ultimate Rare amalgamation of their other Nintendo 64 games - Goldeneye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker's Bad Fur Day specifically. That collection of animal fur and blood and guts really comes together on this cartridge.

The game also has some interesting history during development. I used to read IGN very closely and I remember the day when some new character art was released and the twins went from being bland to sexy. Now it seems like they did this just so they could give Vela boobs, but I suppose breast sells and that's their right. Anyways, now you know all of Jet Force Gemini's exciting history (there wasn't much to cover), so let's get right into the review.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I enter my name for a new game and then start the opening cutscene. We're looking at a glowing planet with an asteroid belt around it, a ship flies by. Some epic space music starts and the camera pans to give us a peek on the inside of the ship. A teenage boy and girl are running the ship, along with their dog.

Jet Force Gemini Spaceship

01 - An alarm goes off, "Alert!" The boy throws down his coffee and runs to the console. We cut to a scene on a planet, a bunch of furry teddy bears are getting shot down by a squad of blue ants. Somehow our heroes are watching this too.

02 - A giant mothership is passing over our hero's ship. They run down the hallway, but a swarm of blue ants burst in! The girl and their dog head into tubes and land on.... treadmills? They then take off in their own personal transport ships. The boy continues to fight off the ants, and then runs into a tube himself.

Jet Force Gemini Juno Green Blood

03 - He lands on his own treadmill, his name is Juno, and he's ready for action. I hit A a few times and he gets teleported into his own orange ship which takes off for the planet.

04 - It's a green planet with plenty of water. Juno lands his ship on what looks like a landing pad made just for him. I take control of the blue-clad hero.

05 - I encounter Yoda, well, maybe not Yoda, but it sure looks like a dark green version of him. Yoda is a Tribal, the furry creatures on this planet, and he tells me he saw Vela and Lupus run through a moment ago, must be my sister and dog. Guess he knows who we are.

Jet Force Gemini Juno Yoda

06 - Yoda tells me that green doors mean forward and red doors mean back. That's probably an indication of poor level design and that it is easy to get lost. I check out my controls, Z shoots, and the C-buttons (remember this is on the Nintendo 64) control various jumping and rolling maneuvers. R brings the camera directly behind Juno's back to aim.

07 - I proceed forward. The next area is very wide open, but the large textures are truly awful.

08 - I enter a hut and talk with a Tribal. He asks me to rescue as many of the furry creatures as I can.

Jet Force Gemini Furry Tribals

10 - Another Tribal tells me I'll have to destroy all Mizar troops to proceed from stage to stage. Figures.

11 - While using the R-button to aim you use the left joystick to aim your gun and the C-buttons (aka right joystick) to shoot. This is the opposite of basically every first person shooter I've played since Halo and I'm going to have a hard time getting used to this in the next hour.

12 - Goldwood Forest - My first liberation zone. The game pans around the area, telling me what to shoot and what not to. Kinda obvious. Oh snap, Sniper Drones!

13 - Blah blah, let's get going. Kill ants, free Tribals.

Jet Force Gemini Rescue Tribal

14 - Finally, A hostile area! I take out my first Sniper Ant with some well placed shots.

15 - After that I rescue my first Tribal, cute little furball.

17 - Phew, just cleared my first large area. The switched joysticks are disorienting me in combat, not sure how I ever played games like this! I dig around in the options looking for a change. Hmm... nothing.

18 - Two different doors to enter, I enter the right one.

20 - It's a long tunnel with ants lined up all the way. There's really no point in aiming it seems, just run and gun. I take on a ton of ant soldiers and then rescue a few Tribals at the end of the tunnel. Only one left to rescue in this level.

Jet Force Gemini Mizar Ant

22 - I manuever my way through a line of ticking land mines while dodging ant bullets. The imprecise controls are making this difficult, Juno takes wide turns.

25 - I accidentally fall down a waterfall hole then crawl underwater through a small crevice. I'm out in the open again. I wish there was some kind of map, I feel really lost. Oh, area cleared! And I rescued all the Tribals (I did?), not bad!

26 - Next area has what looks like to be a collection of exploding barrels.

27 - The music here is really upbeat, lots of drums. A Tribal gives me a Red Key, used for opening doors with Red Locks. Thanks! There's also a door behind him that I can't enter. He says its a Mizar door, why they would have a door on this planet I don't know.

Jet Force Gemini Red Key

29 - I have to shoot a target to proceed... How annoying! I'm wasting all my ammo. Try as I might, I can't get it open. I head through another door.

30 - Okay, there's a giant bug boss in here. Am I ready for this guy? I save my game.

31 - I'm fighting him pretty good, but then I fall in the pit. Wonky controls. I fall again trying to get some red gems.

32 - All right, he went down real easy once I bothered to try. I got a machine gun as a reward! This sucker is high power and should open that frustrating target easy.

Jet Force Gemini Bug Boss

33 - The door goes down in a flurry of bullets.

36 - I'm picking up ant heads as I run around, wonder what they do?

37 - I take out a few more snipers, cool physics as their guns bounce around after they're dead.

38 - I get taken out by one of those giant bug's laser beams. Ouch. Direct hit.

39 - I get right back on my feet (after miraculously coming back to life a few hundred feet away) and take the bugger out.

40 - The game thinks it's funny to place a sniper right above a door entrance. Lame. I'm also starting to notice how hard it is to get the camera to swing around to where you want it.

42 - Woah, I turn the corner and there's a ton of floating gunners! I take a minute to pick them off one by one, luckily they're horrible shots.

Jet Force Gemini Flying Gunners

43 - I fall off an invisible cliff and die. No continues left now... gotta be careful.

44 - Sweet, I just shot an enemy grenade out of the air! But then I die again, continues gone. Lame.

46 - This time I take out the horde of gunners with my machine gun. Much faster this time.

49 - Wow, the game really likes overwhelming odds. Right now I'm fighting off a large group of much more accurate gunners. Not fun.

Jet Force Gemini Juno Dead

50 - I take out the final gunner as he kills me, at least they won't be back now.

51 - Moving on finally, I'm able to rescue a bunch of Tribals, but in the next room a swarm of green flying gunners awaits me. I grab an invincibility power-up on the ground and blast through them. Level complete. But I missed four Tribals. Whoops.

53 - I make it back to my ship, no sign of my sister of dog. I take off to the heavens.

Jet Force Gemini Orange Spaceship

54 - There's a long sequence as my orange ship docks in the main ship. Juno just ran through a solid wall after he got off his ship. Odd.

55 - Somehow one of the Tribals got on my ship. He starts a cutscene, looks like the ants are on MY ship? Maybe I'm not on my ship but the alien mothership? It's not clear. Vela is doing some reconnaissance. Well, until she starts blasting everyone!

Jet Force Gemini Vela Ant Green Blood

56 - She takes off after some ants but then gets captured by a giant purple bug. Now I gotta rescue her I suppose. How did this Yoda know all this information anyway?

57 - I'm back in control and take off into the unknown.

58 - This is a cool indoor area, I like it better than the forest. I rescue some Tribals from the giant purple bug.

Jet Force Gemini Purple Bug

59 - I'm clearing out another room of bugs and gunners. This game could be a lot more fun if it helped you aim at the flying guys too.

60 - In my final minute I manage to rescue another Tribal and spatter some ants. Nothing too exciting.

Now for some scores out of 10.

Jet Force Gemini Vela Running

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 14

Gameplay: 4
Besides the polygonal graphics, many Nintendo 64 games suffered from crappy gameplay. My theory behind this is that the controller simply wasn't ready for both 3D movement and dynamic camera control. Throw in some simultaneous aiming and moving/strafing with only one joystick and all of a sudden you have a 10 button controller that is simply inadequate for the games developers want to make. Jet Force Gemini suffers from this and thus the player suffers too. Is it good gameplay when an experienced gamer has to constantly think about what buttons to press? No. Does it make sense that the game forces you to use an inaccurate joystick (or is it just a bad aiming system?) to pick off sniper ants that just span a few pixels? No. I could go on but the first hour of Jet Force Gemini's gameplay is simply a disappointment.

Fun Factor: 5
Gameplay and Fun Factor categories are usually directly related, if the gameplay sucks, you're probably not going to have much fun. This would be the case for Jet Force Gemini if it didn't have that unique sense of style that's a trademark of Rare games. It's so satisfying splattering the ant drones' green blood all over nearby rocks or "accidentally" shooting a Tribal here or there. The characters have a certain roguish appeal, but they're way too underdeveloped in the first hour, unfortunately. This score would be higher if it weren't for the frustrating moments where you're just getting picked off in the distance by gunner drones and your crappy aim can't hit anything. Too bad.

Graphics and Sound: 6
The characters are probably the best looking things in this game, they're relatively detailed and Juno and Vela specifically look really good. After that, everything kind of goes downhill. The 3D areas seem pretty large, but Jet Force Gemini employs some really awful looking textures all over which spoil the expansiveness. There was a decent variety of environments in the first hour; though I spent the most time in the forest, the last few minutes placed me in a large spaceship cargo deck. I actually enjoyed the music so that helps out this category's score. The sound effects were typical but the soundtrack seemed above average. But Rare has always had pretty good music in their games. Oh, one note, Jet Force Gemini runs in widescreen mode (as you can see by the screenshots in this review), this is a great method of future-proofing by Rare.

Story: 2
Jet Force Gemini's story in the first hour is extremely lacking. It basically entails to a pair of twins and their dog are chilling out in orbit around a planet when the furry inhabitants of that planet are suddenly attacked by some evil ants. That's it. There is no explanation why Juno and Vela were by that planet, there is no explanation on who the Tribals are and why they would get attacked, and there is no explanation on who is attacking them except that they're Mizar. Considering it takes 15 minutes to actually get rolling, you would have expected a lot more.

Overall: 5
This is a disappointing score for me, Rare had such a great track record on the Nintendo 64 and doing a quick recap in my mind, Jet Force Gemini probably had the worst first hour out of all their releases on the system. I also really can't see how the game could recover from this considering so much of the fault lies on the below-average gameplay. The story may become a classic and the soundtrack might keep kicking along, but if the gameplay sucks, well, you can't really do much. Here's to the alien blood splattering run-and-gun action adventure that was not to be.

Jet Force Gemini Art