Jet Force Gemini – Rareware’s Hidden Gem
Rare Ware…any gamer can agree that Rare Ware was one of the greatest gaming companies of the older generation. With such classics like Donkey Kong Country, Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and the notoriously hard Battle Toads, Rare Ware was one of the kings of the video game industry. Every genre they tackled back in the day would get a game that made history…that is until Rare Ware went over to Microsoft.
Ive seen alot of different game reviewers talk about Rare Ware such as JonTron and The Completionist and they always give praise to the more known Rare games like Banjo and Donkey Kong…but what about that other game they made? What about that sci-fi shooter game which put you up against an insectoid army hell bent on universal conquest? For those of you unsure of what I’m talking about I bring to you, in my opinion, one of Rare Wares hidden gems for the N64. and that game…is Jet Force Gemini
Jet Force Gemini is a sci-fi third-person shooter game in which you must destroy the insectoid armies of Mizar, a giant insectoid dictator bent on conquering the universe. You play as the last members of the Jet Force team, a once proud military organization. In the beginning you can only play as Juno but as you progress through the game you can play as his sister Vela and there pet dog Lupus. Now let that sink in for a second….a dog….shooting insect aliens with lasers and rockets…does that NOT sound awesome or WHAT?! Also if you have a second player you can utilize a mini robot named Floyd later on in the game.
Going back to the story Juno and his crew are flying through the vastness of space when they receive a distress call from the planter Goldwood. In that call the insect army are seen to be invading one of the village of the Tribals, a peaceful bear like race. Before Juno and his crew can do anything they are suddenly boarded by one of Mizars ships and are forced to retreat. During there escape Juno gets halted and is forced to hold back the boarding party while Vela and Lupus board their ships and scatter to the planet below. Once Juno has taken down the boarding party he too makes his way to the planet and this is where the game begins.
One of the things that makes Jet Force Gemini such an amazing game are is various levels. Not only are they challenging and full of things to collect….all of them are beautiful in their own ways. From the vast forests of Goldwood to the egyptian feel of Mizars palace every single stage in this game gives off an incredible atmosphere and gives the player a feeling that the area they are in is a grand one. I remember the first time I entered one of the main rooms in Sekmeht and my jaw dropping from my mouth cause of how enormous and detailed it was. Though all the levels in Jet Force Gemini are great one of the best levels that felt very atmospheric would have to be the Space Station. Not only did it feel like something out of an Aliens movie but the music really pushed along that sci-fi horror feel.
(Space Station Music) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-xr5BcXIF0
Speaking of the music that’s another major selling point that makes this game amazing…its soundtrack is unbelievably good. From the intro to the ending the music in this games makes every second all the more memorable. Each track is unique and sets the tone for each of the worlds that you visit. Most of the time when I played this game I stopped dead in my tacks just to listen to some of those awesome songs. As I mentioned before one of my favorite levels is Space Station for its music but if I had to choose a single track that I remember fondly it would have to be the track for Ichor Military Base. Why? Because not only does the music pump you up to fight an entire army of insects the level itself perfectly fits this track. Just entering the first door of Ichor puts you right in the middle of enemy lines just like in a real war.
(Ichor Music) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlgNhPf2aEU&feature=related
Since I’ve praised the atmosphere so much allow me now to mention the gameplay aspects of this game. As I mentioned its a third person shooter so youll be blasting things from that perspective. moving around with the joystick feels relatively smooth and shooting away with the Z button really makes that inner trigger finger in you itch. While Im talking trigger fingers get ready for a crazy arsenal of weapons like the Tri- Rocket, a rocker launcher that fires three rockets in a single shot for maximum explosions and the famous machine gun, a rapid fire laser firing weapon that fires of laser ‘s wilder than a kid getting a N64 at Christmas. When you aim using R you go into a first person perspective to better your aiming if you wanna get that head-shot. Another element of game-play that gets added at the halfway mark in the game is the use of Jet-packs, which can be charged with a jet pad and then used by holding the jump button. But once your fuel is out you better be sure your not to high up otherwise you’ll experience some fall damage. Throughout the game you will be picking up all kinds of items from ammo crates, health gems and upgrades, color keys to open color locked doors, even enemy heads! These enemy heads can be used to unlock other playable characters in the mufti-player mode. The hardest of these collectibles and the one that is most important to this game are the Tribals. In every level there are a set amount of these space bears that are either hidden or about to get killed by one of mizars minions. Your task is to collect as many as possible. But be careful cause while your shooting away you may accidentally kill the tribal and that kill will get marked. You can even collect the heads of the Tribals if you really want. Its sick but what can you do? Its a classic Rare game so collecting everything is imperative to the games progression.
Once you reach the halfway point of the game and fight Mizar for the first time at his giant floating pyramid palace you are then tasked with finding special parts of a spaceship the Tribals once made. Throughout the game each character had a set path leading to Mizars palace but now you can visit allt he plants as either of the three main characters. Finding all these ship pieces can be tedious but also rewarding when you also find an ammo upgrade or another key to access a secret part of the level. Once you find all the Tribals and get the last ship piece you need you head for the Asteroid that Mizar is using as his main base and also his doomsday weapon on Earth.
SPOILER ALERT! GO NO FURTHER UNLESS YOU WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING TO THE GAME!
Now throughout this retrospective I’ve omitted a very important character…Jeff. No not the killer the leader of the Tribals. In the first level of the game he tells you of how the insects invaded their planet and later on Tawfret you see that the reason for the state its in is because of him. Jeff also is the one who mentions the ships to get the Mizars asteroid and gives you the armor upgrade you receive. I forget to mention it cause…well this game is so amazing it just slipped my mind. Anyways Jeff also hints that his brother Barry has gone missing and is worried about him…but Im sure hes one of those minor Tibals found on missions but Rare didnt mention it so lets continue. Once you reach the asteroid all of Mizars toughest drones come out to fight but with your ultimate arsenal you wipe them out with no problem. Then its onto the final battle with Mizar. Before the big fight Mizar blasts Lupus and Vela unconscious leaving you to fight him alone as Juno. This boss fight is the hardest thing in this entire game and really tests how strong you have become as a player…but once you knock Mizar down…the satisfaction felt as a player is so gratifying. Once Mizar is dead we get a huge surprise…Mizar is actually a robot! and who is controlling it? None other than BARRY! Jeffs younger brother! As it turns out Barry created Mizar out of Jealousy towards his brother Jeff since Jeff was the one who received all the praise and was next in line to be king. Barry does realize his mistake and apologizes, leaving the matter in the hands of Jeff to deal with back on Goldwood. Meanwhile the asteroid heading for Earth is still on its collision course and the crew has no means of stopping it. Even with Barry’s hidden explosives it seems that Juno and crew were not fast enough…or were they? During the game Floyd hasnt had alot of use which is why I didnt mention him. I mean yeah he unlocked the Pyramid at Mizars Palace and unlocked a few minor things but he never really had much of a story. Floyd was originally conceived as one of mizars attack forces but having a change of heart turned on his creator and joined Jet Force after Juno found his missing pieces on Tawfret. But now is where Floyds shining moment happens. Floyd offers to fly the explosives to the core of the asteroid. Before he departs he tells the Jet Force crew that it has been an honor to work with them. This moment for me did jerk a few emotions in my heart. I find it amazing that Rare took such a small character and gave him the biggest sacrifice of them all. It made me kinda sad when playing the final Floyd mission since I knew his fate was sealed in the end. As soon as Floyd reaches the center of the asteroid the threat against Earth is gone…but so is the small hero who ultimately saved it. In the end the universe is saved from the threat of Mizar and the Jet Force team are awarded for their actions and it seems the Jet Force unit is reinitialized. Also an interesting bonus is that during the credit scroll Juno and the other Jet Force members go to a disco and dance. Neat.
Overall Jet Force Gemini is undoubtedly an underrated classic Rare game. Reviews of this game were positive from critics but the sad fact is that this game got over shadowed by the more successful Rare games. I feel this is really unfair. I mean dont get me wrong I love Banjo and DK as much as the next guy but seriously this game deserves so much better than this. This game had so much potential for sequels and in my opinion I think it could’ve rivaled the likes of Halo if given another chance in the day and age. That however probably wont happen since Rare is now part of Microsoft and well…Rare just isnt the same company anymore.
Before I end things off I just wanna give a little shout out to JonTron, The Completionist, Egoraptor, PBG and the boys over at Continue?. You guys are all amazing people and got me back into gaming in a way that modern games can never do. I think a lot of people will agree with me when I say that without guys like you we wouldn’t appreciate gaming as much as we do now. Thanks for making us laugh and keep doing what you do best This is Kyzer Aqueron, over and out.