(Nintendo 64)

Jet Force Gemini (Nintendo 64)

Game Review

Jet Force Gemini Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Andy Green

A Rare gem?

The Nintendo 64 and Rare go together like Banjo and Kazooie. The developer was behind several of the stellar titles found on the system, many of which were some of the most original games in history. One of the most unique titles released by the UK-based developer was the 3D action-shooter Jet Force Gemini, which launched in 1999. While Rare had much success in the first person shooter genre with titles such as GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, it decided to take a different approach for this title and set about making it a third person experience.

You play as three members of a galactic police squad known as Jet Force Gemini. First up there’s Juno, a male cadet, Luna, his female counterpart, and Lupus, a dog with a cannon on his back – yes, this is old-school Rare we’re talking about here.

Each team member has their own set ability that only they can use and this becomes an important element of the game, especially in the long-run. For example, during one of the earlier levels where you play as Juno, you’ll see an area on the other side of a large gaping chasm that you simply cannot get to. In order to get over there, you’ll need to rescue Lupus, who has a hover ability that can see him jump much further than the others.

You’ll also come across water segments that only Luna can traverse, and should you find lava then Juno will be required as he’s completely impervious to heat, which, as the characters don’t have much of a backstory, we can only assume he acquired from the years of extensive hot-coal walking space cadets are often subjected to.

This intertwined nature is typical of Rare and adds so much depth to each individual world. Once you finish a level you'll need to go back as another character to find everything, but you won't be able to do it straight away as Luna and Lupus must be unlocked first, meaning it doesn't become repetitive and old levels become new later in the campaign.

One thing that strikes you very early on is the sheer difficulty level. Jet Force Gemini is an extremely hard game from the off and the learning curve is so steep you’ll be needing all of your mountaineering equipment. At the start there’s no tutorial level, no guidance or even much in the way of plot. It just gives you a pistol and plonks you on an alien world full of baddies to shoot at. This is actually very refreshing considering many games in the modern era now hold your hand from start to finish, and you will end up dead a few times before you figure out the control scheme. That being said, it’s a bit of a struggle to get used to and a little guidance would have been nice.

For a start, the controls aren’t easy to get to grips with and aiming can be excruciatingly painful, especially considering you often need to be accurate with your shots and the method put in place doesn’t really accommodate for this. For example, the ant-like enemy drones are easy enough to kill but after a while they’ll start using their noggin and will bring along full riot shields, which means you’ll only see their hand and a very small part of their head. You can put a tonne of lead into that shield and it will still stay intact, so you’ll need to hit the drone on the areas where it’s exposed, which means you’ll need to be precise. Holding R locks the camera directly behind your character and you can then aim without running about. You'll need to jump in and out of this mode frequently and this can become very frustrating, especially when you line up the perfect shot only for the drone to run off or dodge to the side.

Frustrating is a word that comes to mind quite a lot when attempting to describe Jet Force Gemini. If you play this game from start to finish you will be getting killed a lot and a whole host of levels will be replayed. You will get mad, hearts will be broken, controllers will be smashed.

Completing Jet Force Gemini requires a bucket-load, nay an industrial vat-load, of patience. It's made up of nine main worlds, three for each team member with every path ending with a hard-as-nails boss. Each level is full of countless enemies and a few bear-like creatures known as Tribals that need rescuing. Once these routes are complete you meet up at Mizar’s Palace to defeat the end of game boss – or so you think.

Unfortunately, to complete the game you must return to all the previous worlds in order to find several broken parts of a ship. It sounds simple enough but there’s one other requirement that will bring you close to tears – you must save all the Tribals, every last one of them.

The Tribals can feel like a chore; each level has a load to find within them and they are so well hidden you’ll need several play-throughs just to locate them all. What makes this a truly difficult task is the fact you need to collect them all on the same run through, else the game won’t save your progress. If you get to the end with nine out of ten you might as well have found none - it’s punishing to say the least.

On top of this, Tribals will hang around in precarious locations, such as among drones or right next to explosive objects. The enemies don’t just ignore them, either, and given the chance they will take a shot at one, meaning you need to be quick and accurate – and yes, friendly fire is on, so watch what you’re doing with that machine gun.

The idea behind this appears to be to boost the longevity of the game, but it simply becomes a tedious task and searching for all the Tribals makes you want to call it a day rather than carry on playing.

Another major flaw that is certainly worth noting is the frame rate, which can be horrible at times and adds to the problem of accuracy. As there are sometimes a lot of enemies on screen, the action can randomly slow down, causing you to wrestle even more with the already-faulty controls. It’s not the worst frame-rate issue the world has ever seen but it definitely has an impact on the gameplay.

All those negative points aside, Jet Force Gemini is an enjoyable experience and there is plenty of fun to be had. As a third person shooter, it almost feels ahead of its time and has certain mechanics that are really nice to see.

The weaponry is fantastic and there are plenty of guns to find and upgrade along the way. Something that occurs often in modern day shooters is the amount of unnecessary weapons you can have. However, this is not the case with Jet Force Gemini and each gun has a specific use that can hurt a particular enemy with great effect. Your main blaster is the pistol, which doesn’t run out of ammo but has a slow rate of fire, there’s a machine gun that is very useful close up and against flying foes, and of course a range of heavy weapons that can be used to devastating effect. Those aren’t the only ballistics in the game, there are plenty of others to get to grips with as well and it’s fun to experiment with them all on a range of different enemies. Again, there are no tutorials for the weapons so it’s pretty fun to find out for yourself which adversaries each one is effective against.

The enemy AI is actually very good and they will change tactics on the go while fighting you. There are even instances where they’ll throw down their weapon and put their hands in the air, surrendering to your might should their situation get completely hopeless.

There’s also a multiplayer mode that is generally lacking but features a fun co-op element. During the single-player campaign you’ll come across a floating droid called Floyd, who is reminiscent of Dr Carroll from Perfect Dark. Once he’s on your team, a second player can take control of him and help you blast through the waves of drones; it’s a nice touch and gives you a lot of tactical advantages in certain areas of the game.

But one of the best things about Jet Force Gemini is the truly spectacular soundtrack. It’s one of the best on the N64 – and that’s saying something. Each level has a brilliant score and the variety in the music is pretty impressive. All of them are well worth a listen - the character select screen alone is enough to get the blood pumping.

Jet Force Gemini is not perfect by any means, but this is a Rare title that deserves praise. You get the sense the developer let its hair down a little with this one — though it can look cute at times, some of the ways you can kill foes with the assortment of weaponry is almost comedic, over the top and brutal to say the least.

That typical Rare humour is also present at all times and though the game doesn’t have much depth in terms of plot, the characters are as bizarre as you’d expect. There’s the Tribal leader King Jeff, whose name alone says it all, and there’s also a poor frog-like creature called Gimlet who has lost his trousers up a tree – we don’t really want to know how they got up there.

All in all, Rare may have gone over the top with the Tribal collecting and the controls may be difficult but Jet Force Gemini is an absolute blast and is well worth getting into. You can easily rack up 30 to 40 hours of playing time if you finish the game and even if you don't you'll still have a good time.

Conclusion

Jet Force Gemini is a really enjoyable game but has its fair share of flaws that tend to hinder the experience a little too much. That being said, it’s certainly an incredibly fun title, at its best, that will definitely raise a few smiles; if you’re just looking to blast through a few levels without hoping to complete the game then there is a tonne of fun to be had. Just be aware that there will be a lot of frustration and challenge, and you’ll get through a fair few controllers should you play this one out to the end.

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User Comments (70)

unrandomsam

#1

unrandomsam said:

I have never worn out an n64 controller before.

(I have warn out a circle pad on the 3DS in less than 3 months though).

Pichuka97

#3

Pichuka97 said:

I always wanted this game. I feel like my N64 is lacking in games even though I have about 20 of them This needs to be in my collection!!

Kirk

#4

Kirk said:

The main character's running animation in this game always bugged me.

Xiao_Pai

#5

Xiao_Pai said:

Kinda wished this was on the VC, I never did beat the game before for some odd reason, lol.

shyoff

#7

shyoff said:

7?? its unfair, this game is a gem, art, epic. highly recommended.

Scarhino89

#8

Scarhino89 said:

I got that game. Musics are very nice for a Nintendo 64. Jet Force Gemini is one of masterpieces created by Rareware!!

MegaWattsAdmin

#9

MegaWatts said:

Cracking review, Andy! Fully agree on the score - it's a great game but it certainly has some issues. The backtracking was a nuisance and the controls are a little funky. Good work, chum!

BakaKnight

#10

BakaKnight said:

This game... I didn't play it much, but I remember it clearly as a nightmare!

I bought it after seeing the italian Nintendo magazine giving it a 10, but back there I was a kid, the weird control scheme and the high difficult... It "shocked" me O.O;

Years later I came back for the revenge, I played way better than the first time, but... I don't know... that game always made me feel uneasy, I prefered to drop it then complete it >.>;

Blue-Thunder

#12

Blue-Thunder said:

I still have this game on cartridge and 7 is bang on, it's a very unique game but it has a lot of flaws, It's actually a weird game but it's fun.

fairybats

#13

fairybats said:

I haven't played this in years, but while everyone was multiplaying goldeneye, my brothers and I were multiplaying jet force gemini to death and it was loads of fun

Dpishere

#14

Dpishere said:

I played this game a couple months ago with my brother, and I must say the game is every bit as good as it was when I was a kid. Everything, from the stellar soundtrack to the cool weapons and great Sci-Fi atmosphere was perfect, and I have yet to play a Sci-Fi game that replicates that feeling for me. I can guarantee I will be playing this one yet again in the future, and highly recommend those who haven't to do so now!

Ren

#15

Ren said:

This was a 9 for me. I liked the challenge, I remember it being a crazy beast and I don't think I ever finished it. I just remember looking for the parts, maybe near the end. So hard, but so cool. What would games today be without Rare? nothing.

Nintenjoe64

#17

Nintenjoe64 said:

I never got this game or had a chance to play it. I wonder if MS can ever come to an agreement with Nintendo over some of the old Rareware games. Obviously not Killer Instinct for the time being but they could both get an advantage over Sony if they were allowed to release the N64 classics on their console's stores.

It would also be nice if Nintendo picked up a few more official licences. They published the best Bond game ever made and probably the best movie game ever made the last time I remember them using someone else's IP.

fredcaster

#18

fredcaster said:

I completed this game. I used a walkthrough for pretty much the whole thing because it is huge. That last boss had me demented. So hard (but not as annoying or unfair as DK64 final boss turning invisible). The Floyd bits can be difficult to do quickly enough but the Jeff and Barry arcade is fun.
I'd agree that a 7 is about right.

Rezalack

#20

Rezalack said:

This game is definitely a 9. It's a very thoroughly made and complete game. I'm glad to see a review of it though, regardless of the score. It's hard to compare to other rare games but personally, I had more fun with this than I did DK64 and Banjo-Kazooie. That's juist me though, I love the alien sci-fi part of this and it's a very good original IP. It's a shame Nintendo can't be part of a new one.

Now I feel the urge to break out the N64 and play.. it actually one of the few N64 games that I still own.

ULTRA-64

#21

ULTRA-64 said:

@Nintenjoe64 if any rare franchise would be gifted to Nintendo it could be this. It has no real future as ip to any one but us retro fans! I loved the game, rented it for thee days with a mate and finished it. I remember being too tired to celebrate, we just fell asleep with the credits rolling. Would love this on vc.

XyVoX

#22

XyVoX said:

It scored a 7 utterly RIDICULOUS i dont know of anyone that has played this game that would give it anything less than a 9 or 10 literally i dont know of anyone thats ever said a 7, it takes all sorts thats for sure.

Bassman_Q

#23

Bassman_Q said:

I remember playing this game with my brother many years ago when we were both in elementary school; good times testing out different weapons on the Tribals. :D Definitely one of my favorite N64 games, probably 3rd after Ocarina of Time and Banjo-Tooie, and would easily give a 9/10 to it. That being said, the score of 7 seems a bit harsh, as it wasn't THAT hard of a game. It was hard, sure, but not old-school-NES hard. As for the controls, I do recall there being an option to move about even when aiming; I think you used the C Buttons to move while aiming with R. Now that I think about it, the aiming system was very lefty-oriented, as you aimed and fired with the left hand and moved with the right hand. I think it was because of THIS game's controls that I had a hard time with modern "dual-stick" FPS controls. :D

Baloo

#24

Baloo said:

Never completed this game, it was awesome though, it's one of two games I always wanted to see on the virtual console , the other was metal arms on the GameCube

Luigifan141

#25

Luigifan141 said:

@Erica_Hartmann I wish it was on the Virtual Console too, but it will never be on there along with every other Rare game due to them being owned by Microsoft. The only exceptions are the Donkey Kong games, but that's because Donkey Kong was always owned by Nintendo.

Hale-Bopp

#26

Hale-Bopp said:

I remember having a really hard time with the controls in this game and wanting to love it, but being unable to play it without struggling the whole time. Really cool game though and the soundtrack was ace. In fact, I really wish we could get a 3DS version, not like that will ever happen though.

Shiryu

#27

Shiryu said:

Stand in awe as I state that "jet Force Gemini" is my favourite Nintendo 64 game of all time. Yes, even ahead of Nintendo's first party offerings! I kept checking the development of this game in magazines about a year before it was released, it looked like it was gonna be a 3D version of "Gunstar Heroes" and when it finally arrived... it was everything I was dreaming about and more! To bad RARE is a mere shadow of it's formidable past self...

Shiryu Final Score: 9.5 for graphics, music, gameplay, replayabilty, extra games and that lovable spacedog.

SCAR392

#28

SCAR392 said:

I had a bad first impression of this game. I mainly bought it, because it was a Rare Ware game.

I had high expectations. I would give this game a 5 or 6 out of 10. I didn't really like the way this game played at all. The visuals looked weird kinda. I only played the first world, but that was enough for me not to play any further.

Just my opinion.

Pachterkid

#30

Pachterkid said:

It's rare (no pun intended) that I find a game to be so frustrating that I don't see it through to completion, but that's exactly what happened with this game when I was a kid.

Dpullam

#31

Dpullam said:

I just recently played through this game to completion once again, and I enjoyed every second of it. This game has such an incredible atmosphere filled with hidden areas, and if you add in the excellent soundtrack, this game is still one of my favorite Nintendo 64 games without a doubt.

sonicriders

#33

sonicriders said:

I bought an N64 a few months ago and this game came with it. Haven't played it too much, to be honest. :P

RevolverLink

#34

RevolverLink said:

I have fond memories of this game, but I remember that it could be an incredibly aggravating experience if you actually wanted to save the Tribals.

BJQ1972

#36

BJQ1972 said:

The main problem, that most people didn't realise was that that you had to play it through to the end before you could play the levels properly. One of Rare's best. Like a lot of Rare games a walk through is advisable.

Jeremyx7

#37

Jeremyx7 said:

7? Way to low a score imo. At least a 9 as far as fun factor goes! I miss this game...

Mr_G

#38

Mr_G said:

This game was way ahead of its time. It was made to be played with the wiimote and nunchuck. if it was remade using it, it would be even more amazing and deserves higher than a 7 as is

Noboty

#39

Noboty said:

I remember this game I remember loving this game. I remember hating having to rescue all the tribals in order to get the last stage (Which I never did).

MakeMyBiscuit

#41

MakeMyBiscuit said:

This was actually the first game I thought of when I got Jett Rocket for WiiWare.

It is amazing how many N64 games did not make it to VC and considering how good Nintendo made the games look in 480p, it's a real shame.

Looking back now I wish RARE made use of the Expansion Pak for this game or at least made a sequel with using the Expansion Pak.

Does anyone know why there was no Jet Force Gemini 2?

DeltaPeng

#42

DeltaPeng said:

This game is amazing, not a big shooter fan at all, but this third person shooter is a lot of fun. I never completed it, due to the task of trying to get all the tribals being ridiculous, but it's a blast otherwise and multiplayer was a ton of fun (just watch ending on youtube and all is good). Good soundtrack that sets the feel of the game, loved the aspect of exploring. Each of the three main characters has a special ability to allow them to access areas that others can't (or, at least not easily). Revisiting worlds with other characters to discover new areas was an amazing aspect of the game, and many times areas you can only see in the distance are actually accessible later on. 9/10 and one of my favorite N64 games. Another good game that may not be well know is Mischief Makers. 2D platformer, that game can be frustrating to master (and traverse certain areas), but it is a masterpiece, well executed and lot of creativity in it.

ThreadShadow

#43

ThreadShadow said:

I saw this game as how a Metroid 64 might have worked. Fun game and challenging. One problem is it wouldn't save all the collectables you had found, so when you went back into a level you had to rescue all the little creatures again. That's frustrating.

ToxieDogg

#44

ToxieDogg said:

It's a fantastic game, but....

I was playing through it a few years back...got about 14 hours in and had done quite a lot. The game froze at one point and I had no choice but to turn off the N64. When I restarted it, I still had the new title screen you get after first facing Mizar, but it had wiped all 3 of the save files I was using :(

Haven't had the heart to play it again. I was hoping it'd appear on one of the download platforms (Virtual Console or XBLA) so I could make a backup of my save, but alas it seems to be another one of those IPs that Rare/Microsoft would rather just sit on and do nothing with than allow gamers to enjoy the original release again.

Tetsuo_808

#45

Tetsuo_808 said:

The review misses the mark on some key points, for me.

Crucially, there's little mention of Jet Force's deep, yet varied shooting gameplay (hectic, tatical, close and long range, then the shuriken's) and the way the game continuously mixes these up between rooms, with plentiful nods towards Galaxian/Galaga. There's also the extra styles thrown in such as on-rails, 2D/3D racing sections, just because Rare could.

Secondly, zero comment on the graphics? Some of the best use of textures on the N64; rich use of colours everywhere, with realtime lighting effects; and enourmous, often stunning, level designs.

This was Rare on top of their game, on top of the world in 1999, and it's a continual shame that the intricate and immersive gameplay of JFG is lazily overlooked in favour of control issues (yes, it takes a while to get used to?) and the fact it (gasps!) presents a challenge if you want to see the end (it isn't going to hold your hand, and you will have to master and cleanse the levels).

9 for me :)

Otto-Soq

#46

Otto-Soq said:

I had the game back in the days..... I remember the price was being really high on N64 games over here. I never could get into it, btw.

DarkCoolEdge

#47

DarkCoolEdge said:

I have the game but I never played it because the b*****d that sold it to me in ebay forgot to say it was a NTSC copy.

I did get to try it back in the day as a rental and I remember liking it although it was a tough one.

Spoony_Tech

#49

Spoony_Tech said:

I seen 7 even before the page loaded. For some reason I could never get into this game. Not bad but not great either. Never did finish the game.

Windy

#50

Windy said:

When I played Jet Force gemini for the first Time I was blown away at how cool the game looked. The controls can get annoying for sure. I never did beat the game. For a N64 game it looked pretty darn cool. Definately a pretty N64 game (LightBulb goes on!) Time to start giving some of the N64 games the 3D treatment and Eshop them. Don't sell them as retail. They did it with Zelda OOC im sure alot of people would like to see more. How about Golden Eye with an Online Multiplayer option and that would be the first FPS im sure people would buy if it had Online play for 3DS. There are some very good games from the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS that could get the 3D treatment and be well worth a download in the Eshop. Especially if they were to add some Online Multiplayer, streetpass Functions and any other addons they could think of.

Henmii

#51

Henmii said:

Only a 7?! It's one of Rareware's best titles! It's very long and very hard! And fantastic all the way! It also has one of the hardest bosses: the twin praying mantis!!

Nintex

#54

Nintex said:

This game was awesome. I remember waiting for the game to come out back in 99 and when it finally did I was hooked. The music, graphics and sic-fi atmosphere were top notch, plus you went around killing giant ants :) I still have my original copy and have beaten it 100%. I think I might boot it up and give it another whirl

SKTTR

#55

SKTTR said:

If this a 7/10 now, then other action games from 1999 should be around the 5/10 mark at most!! :P

No, honestly, is it really that bad-aged now??

Haven't played it in a decade, but I remember this was the best and hardest 3rd-person shooter/adventure back then.

I loved the abandoned spaceship, the foggy mist forest, the crystal water planet, the ant freighter, etc..

I liked details like feeding fishfood to the ants, the massacre in the Bug Club, the arcade racer, the creepy white eyes of the zombie beetles in the swamp, and unlocking Mr. Pants mode!

Burnt inside my brain is the horrible final boss. Such a true True Final Boss!
Ultrahard, ultrabig, ultrabad.
Took me several days to get the patterns down, and I started hating this game because aaaargh, it was so brutal. So epic, so fantastic, but so demonically crushingly brutal.
I was ready to give up... so close to the end... and said things like "I swear I hate this game forever if i can't beat it now".
Then, with a friend using Floyd and bullet-helling the splatter out of this sucker I somehow endured this limbo and managed to see it all through to the end. Skyrocketed me straight into heaven.
Nothing ever came close in the last 14 years...

BUT 14 years is a long time.
Young people are spoiled, and ol' people like me who have completed this 14 years ago are blinded by nostalgia...
I really don't know if I'd put myself through the difficult and long Tribals section again, only to be followed by a nightmare nemesis of a final boss.
Also I love the comfort of Wiimote-aiming now... can't go back to classic controls.
I consciously skip shooting games with analog aim.

sketchturner

#56

sketchturner said:

I have never disagreed so strongly with a NL review. Not just the score but the actual review. Number one, this not a 30 or 40 hr game. I have beaten it 7 times and it has never taken more than 14 hours, even on the first play through. To me, the length of the game feels just right. Number two, this game is not too hard. If anything it leans toward being easy, apart from the 5 boss fights.

This is easily one of my favorite N64 games, so I am probably too sensitive, but wow do I ever love it. I just beat it again two weeks ago and enjoyed it just as much as 1999.

Lastly... BEST SOUNDTRACK EVER (followed closely by DKC2)

djepic209

#57

djepic209 said:

One of my all time favorite games! I absolutely loved this game and got pretty much all the way to the end, but for some reason I didn't beat it because of some crazy collecting quest you had to complete to beat it and I never did.

AJWolfTill

#59

AJWolfTill said:

I loved this game but never managed to get past that crazy ship collection part. This is actually one of the only games I own which I have never completed, (I bought my gamecube before finishing it) perhaps I will crack it out and finally see it through to the end.

JoShCoNker

#60

JoShCoNker said:

This game it's just AWESOME, full action to the entire game !!, its 100% a must have in your N64 collection and is a very enjoyable game even with another friend in the co-op way.

Antisham

#62

Antisham said:

Brilliant game and innovative for the time of release. Rare did a great job on the 3rd person mechanic and the overall re-playability of the game and the best thing was, it was pretty challenging. Finding the tribals was tough as hell! Great review and nice to see a blast from the past.

Big_L91

#63

Big_L91 said:

@Mr_G you are actually spot on. this game would be one of the best third person shooters with pointer controls.

michaelshellman

#64

michaelshellman said:

this game rocks! yea the controls were bad a bit but it was well worth getting use to, one of the things that i remember loving the most was that little robot guy by your shoulder. if i remember correctly he could be controlled by you or a second player or something like that.droids are always awesome!

FireHorsePrime

#65

FireHorsePrime said:

Bought this one new on the day of release and as much as I wanted to like it, I just couldn't. It's a gorgeous game and some elements were fun, but the controls were frustrating and for me, immersion is the first step to a great game. If I can't fall into it like I'm falling into bed, it's not going to happen. JFG is a gem but unless you've got the patience to devote to it, it might as well be a brick.

C-Threep

#66

C-Threep said:

This was my favorite game of all time until Metroid Prime came out. I give Jet Force a 10/10. Granted, I did have that ol' Nintendo Players Guide when I played it back in the year 2000, so collecting all the stuff while backtracking to beat the game wasn't all that hard. I don't remember thinking the control scheme was difficult. It was N64, back before the days of duel analog sticks, so we didn't know any better.

kUROBix

#67

kUROBix said:

I remember playing that game as a little kid... I STILL HAVEN'T BEAT IT!!!

RFox182

#68

RFox182 said:

One of the first N64 games my dad bought me and my brother so freaking hard never beat it!!! But love this game and still have it..so many good and bad memories and countless hours spent on this game. After coming across this review just might have to play it again for old time sake!

RFox182

#69

RFox182 said:

And if I remember correctly there was a verses mode where you and another player(maybe up to 4 players not for sure) could pick what map, player, and weapons you wanted and fight each other....just as much if not more fun than the story mode!

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