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Jet Force Gemini (Nintendo 64) artwork

Jet Force Gemini (Nintendo 64) review


"Years ago, I forgave Jet Force Gemini. "



Years ago, I forgave Jet Force Gemini.

Call me naďve. Call me a bloody liar. I forgave its hokey characters, overcomplicated controls and unwieldy aiming. I forgave its unoriginal premise of three lone wolf pilots out to save the universe and likewise forgave the overabundance of trinkets they inexplicably had to collect to do so. It was an underdog title – if you can say that about a game from Rare – and it was on my cherished system, the Nintendo 64. It was a third-person shooter, a genre unheard of on the console, and it actually had speed unlike plodding PlayStation competitor Metal Gear Solid. Like any stubborn lover, I was determined to forgive its vices. So I did. I don’t regret it.

Suddenly a jilted widow thanks to this modern age of gaming, I returned to Jet Force Gemini with those same loving eyes, ready to gloss over those same faults and thoroughly enjoy the same adventure. I didn’t realize it had skeletons left in its closet beyond what I forgave.

Set out into the worlds of JFG – its timeworn jungle paths overhung by lush canopies, its gigantic steel space stations populated by plasma firing insects – and prepare to be… unimpressed. I don’t remember this feeling. I remember being stunned by color and atmosphere, mystified by intricate locales packed with nooks and crannies. This ho-hum, apathetic attitude was entirely new -- I just didn’t care. Confused but set to plod onward, I knew Jet Force Gemini had one saving grace, one level sure to have withstood time’s tests. I was determined to reserve judgment until I reached the cold, silent Cerulean Desert and its sands shrouded in mystery.

The music was still ominous and tense, the battles with wild run-and-gunning arthropods in the dotted ancient ruins still clumsy. Only there was a difference. That thick, unforgettable atmosphere that made me love it was gone. I remembered uneasy moments wandering over the cruel sapphire dunes, with no obstructions to hide me, unaware of what lurked. Exposed. Naked. Those feelings were nowhere to be found. All I saw was a vast eternal sea of blue marred by an occasional enemy confrontation. It was dull. It was lame.

The appeal of so many Nintendo 64 adventures were the beautiful, unexplored worlds they placed before the player. Each one was different, and alive, and like little else we had ever seen before. They all felt great; I suppose novelty can do that.

But at that moment I realized those dunes weren’t the forever fields of Hyrule. They weren’t the warp pipe riddled wonderlands of the Mushroom Kingdom. Once the novelty is gone, the world a game creates is left to stand on its own, and there’s nothing endearing or engaging about the cold wastelands of Jet Force Gemini. They don’t have any lasting appeal -- a return trip will too often leave you feeling as empty as your lifebar. With all the well-documented faults it had to begin with, it simply doesn’t hold its own anymore; if you have fond memories of this one, keep them that way.

Rating: 3/10

drella's avatar
Community review by drella (September 12, 2007)

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