Jet Force Gemini is a blending of first-person shooting and 3D platforming elements in a game by Rareware for the Nintendo 64. The Jet Force gets attacked by giant bug soldiers and are forced to abandon their base ship via their smaller, personal ships. You take control of Juno (a guy) and head out in search of your friends Vela (a girl) and Lupus (a dog). On your journey, you learn that the insects that infested your ship are minions of Mizar, a larger, more evil bug that has been causing all kinds of trouble this side of the galaxy. He has even enslaved the Tribals, a bearlike race, to do his work for profit. Can you and your friends save the Tribals and stop Mizar? That’s the basic story of the game.
The gameplay is a bit tricky to explain. You see, you can move around and jump and shoot normal enough without much of a problem. However, you can also hold R to go into what’s practically a first-person mode. The camera zooms in, your character becomes transparent, and now moving the control stick will move a crosshair that appears. You can use the C buttons to move your character around in this mode. The tradeoff is that you’re slower, you can’t see as much around you, you can’t jump, and you can’t crouch. The plus side is that you can pick your targets more carefully rather than leaving it up to auto aim. Your main gameplay consists of shooting down Mizar’s army of gigantic bugs while saving the Tribals they’ve enslaved. On your journey you’ll get new weapons, upgrades, key items, and even secret unlockables for the multiplayer mode. You go from planet to planet trying to clear out the enemies, save the Tribals, and beat the bosses. It’s a long road leading to the final showdown with Mizar, but you and your friends will get there if you have what it takes.
The graphics in this game are mixed. I enjoy them, being colorful in some places while being darker in others as needed. However, at times the art can be a bit fuzzy. It makes sense, given the system and the game’s age, but it seems like they maybe could’ve been a bit better in some places. They’re good, given the circumstances. The soundtrack is great. It’s perhaps the most impressive soundtrack on the system, being a wonderful middle ground between orchestral score and classic video game music. The length of the adventure is also very impressive for the system, with various levels and lots of places to explore multiple times. The co-op is nice for the combination of experienced and inexperienced players. The experienced player can play normally as the first player, and the inexperienced player can play as Floyd as the second player. Being Floyd is simple. You have a crosshair on the screen constantly, with the ability to shoot your twin blasters infinitely. It can be very helpful for bosses and large hordes of enemies. And there’s even a multiplayer mode for up to four players.
However, the multiplayer mode is very awkward to control, especially with the different sizes and abilities of the characters. There are a few different games to do in multiplayer, but they were clearly tacked-on later to advertise for the four player capability. The co-op can be very helpful, but in the hands of a dickhole second player it can make things much worse. The second player has no health nor ammo to worry about, so they can just spray all over the place. Shooting mines, grenades (even your own as you throw them), exploding barrels, and worst of all… Tribals. This wouldn’t be so bad except that you need to save ALL of the Tribals in the ENTIRE game in order to finish. You can get them in sections, which makes it more doable, but even then it’s hard enough to keep them alive without a trigger happy teammate. You should really only have to get a certain number of them, in my opinion, but with practice and patience you’ll be able to make it through eventually. The biggest obstacle in the game is the controls. If you didn’t grow up on the N64, good luck. Even if you did, the controls can be very awkward to adjust to. I’d say to play through the first boss and see how well you get used to them. Or at the very least, play for an hour. If you really can’t get used to the controls, then that’ll break the game for you, and I understand. It’s an odd blend of gameplay that works well for what it is, but is hard to execute seamlessly in the controls department. Just do your best and decide for yourself if you can do it or not.
Still, Jet Force Gemini is quite the space adventure for the N64. There’s a lot to do and it’s a rewarding experience to finally beat the game. With all the cool places to go, enemies to kill, and weapons to kill them with, this game will keep you entertained for hours. Unlike most Rare titles, it seems to be a hidden gem. I never hear anyone talk about it, which seems strange considering all the Rare games from the time people DO talk about. This is just as awesome as the rest of them, with lots of quality and charm. On the bright side of that, you can usually get it for pretty cheap, even though it’s worth more than it goes for typically. Jet Force Gemini delivers a quality, unique adventure to the Nintendo 64 that is well worth your time and money. Let’s just hope they don’t go making a sequel or a reboot or something of this one and ruin it.