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By Master_Craig
Posted on 11/18/14
Last night I returned home from PAX AUS 2014. Long story short, it wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best weekend I've had this year. It was a lot of fun. If you'd like to continue reading, the long story is just below. Buckle up. This is gonna be...

Jet Force Gemini Review

Johnny_Liu By:
PUBLISHER Rare/Nintendo 
T Contains Animated Violence

What do these ratings mean?

George Lucas and Paul Verhoeven... gettin' it on.

Introducing Jet Force - an intergalactic team out to right wrongs, rid the world of evil, help those in need, and good stuff like that. That is, until the Bugs destroyed them all, save three members: Juno, Vela, and their little puppy, Lupus. As the last bastion of good in the whole forsaken universe, Jet Force Gemini must save the Tribals, a primitive bear-like race, from the nefarious Bugs under Mizar's rule. Hmmm...lots and lots of insects...cute, fuzzy creatures you want to blow up... why, it's the bastard child of Starship Troopers and Star Wars!

Juno, Vela, and Lupus start out the game separated from one another. You begin by controlling Juno; once you find one of your teammates, you can switch characters. Each character has his/her own set of levels as well as character specific attributes. Juno has fire immunity, Vela swims, and Lupus has a floating jump.

You control your character from a third person point of view, with "semi-auto targeting" - just face in the direction of your enemies and shots tend to head towards them. During the many times you need more accuracy (like to take out a sniper), just hit the top right button and switch into a first-person aiming reticule. Getting used to any one control scheme does take time. While the controls aren't perfectly tight, with enough play, they'll become almost second nature.

A key point to aiming is that the hairpins of the targeting system change from green to red when bearing down on an enemy. You may not always be able to see those insects or aim that easily while avoiding gunfire, but having that visual guide helps significantly.

Ammo management is also highly stressed. You start out with limited weapons and only so much ammunition. You must find ammo backpacks to increase the capacity of your weapons. Early on, this forces you to get skilled with good aiming, rather than blind shooting.

Once you reunite your characters, you can revisit old stages with the different characters. Revisiting stages is actually mandatory; in order to proceed to the final stages, every Tribal must be found. Like the Jingos of Banjo Kazooie, Tribals are scattered about the level, waiting to be rescued. While it does stretch the replayability limits of each stage, having to collect every single Tribal does provide a challenge. A somewhat tedious challenge, but challenge nonetheless.

The multiplayer mode has a somewhat tacked-on, last minute feel, even though it does allow several modes of play and a healthy number of options. Basically, you're not buying the game for its multiplayer, but it's an adequate diversion with a pal. And if you just want some wacky fun, select the Targeting mode game for two players and try to control both targets (a controller in each hand) yourself.

More interesting than multiplayer is the Cooperative mode. During the one player game, you can put together a robot named Floyd. When Floyd is complete, a second player can control Floyd and help out in the main game. Very cool.

Early on there isn't much graphical "oomph," but once you get deeper into the game you'll be impressed. The whole fields of reflecting glass floors in Mizar's Palace and the stunning cut-scenes look beautiful. While there are some bothersome frame rate problems, setting the game on wide-screen mode makes everything run significantly smoother, resulting in a better game.

In the early stages of developement, Juno and Vela were super deformed - short, squat, and cute. Somewhere along he way, Rare did a rehaul and upped them into the lanky teenager period. Like every video game girl, Vela gets the Britney Spears/Lara Croft boob treatment...not to sound like a woman's activist, but I'm getting a bit tired of enormous computer busts, particularly when coupled with that residual "cute" look.

The game leans heavy on its Starship Troopers influence, and Juno and Vela really don't have much character outside of squishing bugs. But I did like Lupus. Anytime you strap heavy artillery to a puppy's back means sure-fire hi-jinks.

Musically, Jet Force Gemini tries to evoke its John William's movie influence and actually manages to get some pretty good music out of the N64. It goes for a more operatic feel than the generic video game techno, and all in the beauty of Dolby Surround sound. Sound effects are well done and immerse you in a world of screaming ant drones, whizzing lasers, and squealing Tribals.

Starting out, you really have to settle into Jet Force Gemini - learning the not-quite-perfect controls, figuring out multiple exits, and dealing with some blurrier graphics takes time. Once you get into the swing of things, everything begins to gel together. The tedium of going back and searching for Tribals is countered by the pure fun of running around tearing through giant bugs with lasers. Jet Force Gemini isn't nearly on par with Goldeneye or Zelda, but as a pure search-and-destroy, it has its moments.

B Revolution report card
  • Good graphics and sound
  • Lots of unadulterated Bug squishin'
  • A puppy with a gun strapped to his back
  • Learning curve
  • Tedium of searching for Tribals
  • Bad framerates in normal mode

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