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Jet Force Gemini

Rated T for Teen


Nintendo 64 (N64)






October 1999

ROM Size:

256 megabits


One to Four Simultaneous


3D Action/Shooter


Cartridge (6 slots)


Rumble Pak



> Final Rating: 4.2 out of 5.0


Two game design philosophies seem to come from the developers at Rare: (1) Take an existing popular genre and improve everything, or (2) Develop a completely original game with a homage to the past. Banjo-Kazooie and GoldenEye 007 fit the first philosophy to a tee.


Blast Corps and now Jet Force Gemini, which coincidentally was developed by the Blast Corps team, follow the second philosophy. Jet Force Gemini epitomizes Rare's N64 style by incorporating amazing graphics, incredible sound, and a long quest that forces you to collect many items. At the same time, however, much of the gameplay design will take you back to the days of 8- and 16-bit games—except it's now in 3D.

Gameplay & Control

The stars of Jet Force Gemini are Juno (a male), Vela (a female), and Lupus (a dog). Right near the end of the game's development cycle, these characters "grew up" when people complained that the original characters looked too much like kids for such a violent game. Jet Force Gemini may not look dark and forbidding on the outside, but on the inside, you'll find lots of gory green bug splatter and flying bug parts.


Somewhere in the deep reaches of space, a vicious tyrant named Mizar has enslaved the Tribal (Ewok-like creatures) population of Goldwood. Jet Force Gemini receives a distress signal about the invasion, but encounters a problem of its own: It seems that Mizar has found the location of Jet Force Gemini and has sent a battalion of drones onto the ship. Fortunately, Vela and Lupus are able to escape in pods while Juno covers them. Juno makes it off the ship, too, and he awaits your command to begin this incredibly long and difficult adventure.


The three stars of Jet Force Gemini have similar control with different abilities. Juno can walk on fire and lava, Vela can swim underwater, and Lupus can fly. Using the default control scheme, the Control Stick moves your character. The A button scrolls through your weapons list, talks to allies, and opens chests. The B button scrolls backward through your weapons list. The Z button is used to fire your weapon. Top C button is your jump button, whereas Bottom C is a crouch button. Left and Right C are used for sidestepping. The R button enters the manual targeting mode.


Does the control scheme seem strange to you? It should. Jet Force Gemini, which is a shooter from a third-person perspective, uses the N64 controller in a way different from any other game on the system. If you're used to the Turok control scheme, then moving your character with the Control Stick, not the C group, seems weird at first. Pressing the Top C button to jump is unusual, too. And then there's the R button for manual targeting.


When you hold the R button for manual targeting, your character stops and enters a transparent first-person view. Now you use the Control Stick to aim around the screen and use the Z button to fire. The problem is that manual targeting is extremely loose, making it difficult to aim properly. Since manual targeting is such an integral part of the game, it's a shame that you'll have difficulties aiming straight when the action heats up—even if you have lots of experience.


First-person shooters may be all the rage on N64, but a third-person shooter like Jet Force Gemini provides the opportunity for many unique gameplay experiences. For instance, Jet Force Gemini combines the all-out action and intensity of a first-person shooter while containing huge worlds that give you some adventure.


And the worlds in Jet Force Gemini are huge. Each world is connected together by "regions," which are level segments connected by doors. Most doors won't open until you destroy all enemies in the region (don't forget to save all the Tribals!), but other doors require keys or concentrated firepower to open.


Gameplay structure is one of the problems with Jet Force Gemini. Juno, Vela, and Lupus each take separate paths to Mizar's Palace. Therefore, you can lead Juno all the way to the end before using another character, or you can change characters frequently via the Pause menu. Once all three characters have reached Mizar's Palace, then you can explore each other's worlds. Because as you go through each character's quest, you'll notice locked doors, out-of-reach places, and seemingly unnecessary fuel pads.


While having three characters to control is a good idea, it's certainly not a good idea to force the player to revisit levels with different characters in order to save Tribals or to find hidden necessities. Yes, you have to save every Tribal on every level to complete the game. Here's what compounds the problem: A region will reset (meaning all enemies respawn, weapons reappear, and Tribals are put back) when you leave, which is why there are markers placed throughout levels to let you know when you're about to exit. You're supposed to monitor the progress by using the pause menu's "Tribals" option.


Additionally, Jet Force Gemini overwhelms the player with tons of items to memorize and to collect. Gems restore your health by making repairs to your armor, whereas Gemini Holders provide more room for gem storage. Ammo crates for specific weapons are found throughout the game and capacity crates increase the ammunition capacity of a particular weapon. Furthermore, you'll come across shields, a variety of keys, Mizar Tokens, and many other unique items for solving puzzles and striking deals.


Got weapons? In this game you have an arsenal that will make others jealous. You'll come across some of these beauties: pistol, machine gun, plasma shotgun, homing missile launcher, tri-rocket launcher, sniper rifle, flame thrower, grenades, remote mines, and more. Since action is emphasized more than adventure here, you'll put these weapons to good use, blowing the various drones into a bloody, gooey mess, with heads and legs flying across the screen. (You can even collect drone heads for a bonus!)


Drones look very similar to large ants and bugs and come in several varieties. In addition to the standard blue Soldier Drone, you'll get to annihilate Sniper Drones, Ninja Drones, and Shield Drones. You'll encounter Airborne Squadrons, two-gunned Stags, "shambling" Marsh Zombies, and heavily armored Centurions later on. Better yet, you'll face a handful of enormous, difficult bosses.


That's not to say that adventure isn't an important part of the game. Jet Force Gemini contains some spectacular real-time cinema scenes to further the story in addition to conversations with allies during the actual game. The conversations, however, contain too much text in an unattractive dialog box.


Jet Force Gemini pays homage to 8- and 16-bit games with its emphasis on high-intensity action and level design that requires skill with the controller. Most 3D games seem to have few enemies on the screen. Jet Force Gemini throws lots of action at you—for a price. Be prepared to deal with choppy frame rates.


The multiplayer modes in Jet Force Gemini seem like an afterthought. First off, there is a two-player cooperative mode—that is, if you have the skill and patience to open it. The Co-Op Play mode only will become available once Floyd, a small flying drone turned good, is found and rescued in the single-player game. Then a second player, using the same screen, can control Floyd and use his gunsight to help destroy enemies.


The four-player Multi-Play mode features three choices: Battle Mode, Target Practice Mode, and Racing Mode. The last option isn't available initially. Battle Mode lets two to four players deathmatch from a third-person perspective. With the unusual control scheme and need for manual targeting, it just doesn't work. Target Practice Mode is intriguing, because it's similar to any coin-op shooting game—except you use the Control Stick to aim your cursor. Racing Mode is a nice trip down memory lane. Open it if you can.

Graphics & Sound

Does Rare have a grasp of N64 hardware, or what? Jet Force Gemini looks spectacular. The worlds are original, with vast lands, weird color schemes, and varied textures. Lighting effects are incredible. Bosses must be seen to be believed. Enemies not only die grossly but also show intelligence by hiding, retreating, and attacking in groups.


There are two problems, though: the aforementioned choppy frame rates and a sometimes-uncooperative camera. Although the action heats up unlike any other N64 game, it also becomes jerky when there's too much going on. As far as the camera goes, again, when the action heats up, it works against you, letting enemies get out of sight.


One constant with Rare is that the company doesn't disappoint when it comes to audio. Jet Force Gemini features a rich orchestrated soundtrack that gets its inspiration from Star Wars and Alien. It sets the scene for each planet. The sound effects might be better, though.


From the sound of fire and water to the splat sound of drones to how the weapons sound, Jet Force Gemini almost hit the bull's-eye in this department. The only downer? Not anywhere near enough voice. None of the Jet Force Gemini crew speaks nor do its allies. Banjo-Kazooie-like garbled sound effects are used instead. A narrator introduces each world, but that's the extent of the voice.


Is Jet Force Gemini too ambitious? Perhaps. If it weren't for the problems of a jerky frame rate, unnatural and touchy control, and annoying gameplay tasks, Jet Force Gemini could be one of the ten best games on N64 because of its original characters, intense gameplay, and rewarding quest.


As such, Jet Force Gemini isn't excellent, but it certainly is an entertaining game for any gamer who can tolerate the inevitable frustration. Jet Force Gemini just may remind you of the frustrating, yet engrossing, fun you had back in the 8-bit era.
















Not available.


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: June 27, 2000

Appendix Added: N/A




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