Game Progress 8/21 + Thoughts on Jet Force Gemini
August 21, 2019

What have I been doing since completing 12 is Better than 6? Well...

Jet Force Gemini (N64)
I was playing this game legit--as in, on the actual console, non-emulated and not via Rare Replay. I kind of regret that... As with previous "thoughts" posts, I'd like to use a bullet point structure:

  • Just to give a rundown for those who aren't familiar with this game: it's a third-person shooter on N64 developed by Rare. It borrows from space hero shows of yore, like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. There are three playable characters: Juno, Vela and Lupus (the third of which is a dog with a blaster attached to his back). Each has their own ability, with Juno being able to walk on lava, Vela being able to swim, while Lupus has jet rockets in his feet that allow him to float, a la Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2.
  • The first half of the game consists of individual stages for each character to complete. Eventually, you get all three of them to the same place, then fight the main antagonist in a quick, simple battle.
  • Phase two kicks in after that point, in which you must rescue each and every "tribal," which are tiny, koala-like aliens found throughout the game. They appear in ever stage, and even some stages you couldn't access during the first half. On top of that, you must hunt for twelve ship parts so you can rebuild an ancient spacecraft and fly to the final boss encounter.
  • As you can probably tell, for a third-person shooter, this game is way overlong. It overstays its welcome some time after you defeat the antagonist, and everything else feels like artificial content used to phone in longevity. Shooters, for the most part, shouldn't be this long.
  • There's plenty of simple action, which is the only thing that makes the game somewhat entertaining. Your blaster automatically locks onto ground troops, making it easy to take out The weak ones. Eventually, though, you need to step up your game and use better firepower to take out the heavies and the well-guarded enemies.
  • As with any shooter, you also gain new weapons, including a machine gun, a rocket launcher, shurikens and a sniper rifle.
  • Unfortunately, in order to take out aerial foes, you need to hold down the right trigger and aim with the joystick. No, you can't walk back and forth while aiming, but you can strafe using the left and right C buttons. This is a huge pain in the ass, and also the main reason I don't like this game very much.
  • The reticle's movements are very wonky because they're either too slow or oversensitive. When you reach the edge of the screen, the reticle moves very quickly, often causing you to overshoot your target. Because of this, you spend so much time fumbling to properly aim that you end up getting pelted with shots before you can land a single bullet. It take some getting used to, but honestly it's not worth the effort.
  • There are some platforming segments that really don't belong here. Hell, I'll just got ahead and say that platforming segments don't belong in any non-platformer. I don't know why developers insist on doing this, but it doesn't add variety to a game whose mechanics aren't built for that particular genre. It just makes the game frustrating. Cases in point: Die by the Sword, Penumbra: Requiem, and according to some people Duke Nukem Forever (I still haven't played that game).
  • As you can tell with the tribal and ship part hunts, this campaign features way too much collecting. The tribals are the worst, because they can die in the process of being rescued. If one dies, you need to restart the whole level. You absolutely must save 100% of the tribals to finish the game. By the time you collect them all, you'll probably be well over this game.

No official review from me. I've given up on this one out of boredom, and my final rating is 2/5. Its mechanics are dated, and would work much better with dual analog. Granted, N64 didn't have that option, but that doesn't change the notion that the play control was terrible, even for its time. Just ask anyone who owned a PlayStation and tried to suffer through games like Hexen or Machine Head. Those would have been at least palatable with a dual analog setup or mouse+keyboard (I can at least attest on behalf of Hexen, because I've played both the PlayStation and PC versions, and the latter is by far superior). I had both when they were close to new, and they were damn near unplayable.

Evergrace (PS2)
I have once again finished this title. Review rough draft written, will be copy-edited soon. My final word on the game: it's mediocre, which is a pretty typical reaction. Parts of it didn't age well, including the inability to lock onto targets and the lack of camera control. However, the game's "paper doll" system is pretty decent. I aim to replay and review its prequel, Forever Kingdom, in the future. As I recall, that one was much better, albeit incredibly hard. I did finish it way back, though.

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium (GEN)
I started this one and am well into it. Geez, I forgot how great it is. It's the most contemporary of the original tetralogy, and includes a pretty forgiving difficulty rating in comparison it PS 1 and 2. However, unlike PS3, it maintains its series' standards of fusing sci-fi and fantasy seamlessly. It's also got a pretty decent story so far, where your characters converse a little more and you're seldom left in the dark as to what to do next. Granted, most of its narrative content consists of cliches, but they're used properly and welcome in this outing.

Right now, I need to get to Zio's Fortress.

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