Jet Force Gemini RETRO Review - by DJ MetalWolf

Coming off the classic titles 'Goldeneye 007', 'Diddy Kong Racing', and 'Banjo-Kazooie', you'd think Rareware had nowhere to go but up right? I mean they were delivering some classic titles so we had no point of worrying, right? Enter the year 1999 and the disappointment that was the sci-fi shooter 'Jet Force Gemini'. Would you like to know more about why this game is a disappointment? Well, join The Mobile Infantry and strap in, cause this is: JET FORCE GEMINI!

--THE STORY--

Set in the far future, the story revolves around a team called Jet Force Gemini and their quest to stop the evil Mizar and his army of Ants, er Drones. To be honest, unlike other Rare titles, the story here is very basic and, dare I say, not very good. We only know of the backstory to the game thanks to both the game’s instruction manual and a mystic you can come across in various levels, as the intro doesn't really tell us anything about the game's plot. In fact, the story rarely comes into play as you journey through the game's fifteen open-world levels as you fight off Mizar’s army on your quest to Mizar's Palace. The thing is? After you reach Mizar's Palace and beat him, Mizar turns chicken and flies off to an asteroid and this is where the game really becomes annoying. See, you don't immediately unlock the last level. No, you have to revisit every planet with every character to collect spaceship parts and EVERY SINGLE TRIBBLE in order to get the final part from the mystic in order to travel to the asteroid. Meaning, if one Tribble is killed, you gotta re-do that entire mission. That complaint aside, the story is mediocre at best and bland at worst.

--THE GAMEPLAY--

JetForceGemini Side

'Jet Force Gemini' is your standard third person shooter with nothing to make it standout, other than the fact you are shooting bugs and can control a Dog with a Machine Gun strapped to him. The issue that plagues this game and prevents it from being a Rare Classic are the pitiful controls. See, when you move, you have full control over your character with the analog stick with the ability to strafe with the Right and Left 'C' buttons, but the problem is that your characters movements are slippery, as if they’re walking on ice, and awkward, making the most basic of navigation near impossible. At times, when I was trying to run in a straight line, I ended up wobbling all over the place like I was Otis Campbell after a night of moonshine drinking. This is somewhat fixed if you play in while Z-Targeting, which makes your character translucent and allows for better precision aiming but is still somewhat slippery though not as bad as when you aren't targeting enemies. Where the bad controls really become awful are during the platform segments when you have to jump from platform to platform. The issue here is that the camera pulls back to a poor angle and, somehow, the controls become worse because of this. It's not too bad when the platforms aren't moving but when they are it becomes an outright nightmare.

Onto the characters and, while there are three to choose from, the only main difference between the three are their special ability, what planets they explore, and what exclusive items they get. The first character you control is Juno and he has the ability to walk on lava. Then there's Vela who can swim underwater. Finally, there’s the robodog, Lupus, who has a hover ability. Aside from their powers, the only main difference between all three of them are the main levels they journey through and what exclusive items they can collect, though once you complete Mizar’s Palace for the first time, you can use any character on any planet and, depending on which one you use, you can unlock a unique planet to visit.

Speaking of items, like all of Rare games, there are a TON of collectibles in the game, which normally isn’t a bad thing, but here? Like I mentioned earlier. In order to unlock the last mission, you have to rescue every Tribble in the game! Not only is this annoying and tedious, but they can be in some out of reach locations or in plain sight of either yours or the enemies laser fire, meaning you might accidentally shoot one which means you won't be able to unlock the last mission which equally means you have to restart the level! Actually, speaking of laser fire, the weapons are thankfully this game's saving grace because these are some great weapons to play with. From your trusty pistol to the rapid-firing Machine Gun to the deadly Tri-Rocket Launcher all the way to the one-shot killer Sniper Rifle, these are great fun to use. Heck, Rare even included a joke weapon in the form of Fish Food, which is kinda funny admittedly. Sadly, it's a pity that the weapons are the only good thing about this game.

--FINAL VERDICT--

To be fair, I did have fun playing 'Jet Force Gemini' as a young pup and, even nowadays, it does still have its good moments. It's just that the controls and constant collectathon is what hurts this game from being another Rare Classic. But, we need to address the elephant in the room: the game is available on N64 and the Switch N64 Online Collection, as well as the 'Rare Replay' collection on Xbox (which is an amazing collection, by the  way). Please avoid the Xbox version! The controls there are not only more horrendous then the N64 version, but the included Modern Controls are even more terrible. Trust me, stick with the N64 and avoid playing the Rare Replay version.


GF Review Scores: 

Gameplay: 5 - It’s basic and really doesn’t do anything new, outside of annoying platforming sections and the forced collectathon.

Graphics: 8 - For an N64 game, it’s still a pretty good looking game. It may just be me, but I kinda miss this era of graphics.

Sound: 9 - The music is very Star Wars inspired and catchy, with a surprisingly good disco song at one point, and the various sound effects are nice and meaty.

Story: 3 - Not one of Rare’s best and it’s really forgettable, outside of a late-game twist that kinda comes out of nowhere.

Final Score: 6 / 10


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