Kickin’ It Old School – Jet Force Gemini

That’s right friends, you can stop sending those emails, call off those searches, I’m still alive! Ok, so there weren’t any emails, aside from a few guys wanting my help to move a large sum of money, and some containing information about herbal ways to make my breasts bigger, but yea, I’m still here.

You see, life suddenly got really, really, really, really busy, then calmed down for about 3 nanoseconds, then got really, really, really, really busy again, so I haven’t had much time for much of anything. In fact, I’m writing this at precisely 1:20 am when I have things to do for class in the morning but hey, screw that (yes friends, I am part of the future of this country…be afraid, be very afraid).

Anyway, before my unannounced and possibly unnoticed hiatus (anyone notice? Please?), I had promised a column on Rare’s Jet Force Gemini and that finally will be delivered. And I promise to forthwith to write a column a little more often than once every 3 months. Honestly.

Jet Force Gemini (N64, 1999)

Rare, no stranger to the shoot ’em up genre with such home runs as Goldeneye 007 and the later Perfect Dark series, released Jet Force Gemini on October 11th, 1999. Unlike the aforementioned Rare games, JFG was a third person shooter, rather than a first person shooter.

The player controlled one of three characters: Juno, his twin sister Vela or their dog Lupus. The universe is under attack by the evil Mizar and his army of bugs, and the 3 take it upon themselves to stop him, mostly because they are the only remaining members of the Jet Force team, but also because according to the storyline, the Galactic Federation doesn’t want to make a stand as they don’t see Mizar to be a threat. See why we had to preemptively counterattack Saddam Hussein? It’s always “no threat” this and “no just cause” that until an army of giant gun-wielding bugs is staring you in the face.

Anyway, Juno, Vela and Lupus arrive on planet Goldwood after their ship is attacked in order to liberate it from Mizar’s forces, and later travel to other planets en route to Mizar’s stronghold. After arriving on the planet, they go their separate ways, as the player first plays as Juno then later unlocks the ability to play as the other two. Each character has unique abilities, as Juno can walk through lava, Vela can hold her breath underwater indefinitely (must…suppress…tasteless joke…) and Lupus can hover for short periods of time.

The first planet, Goldwood, is populated by the Tribals, little bear-like creatures under the tyranny of Mizar’s bug army. Their leader is a Tribal shaman named…Jeff. Yep. Jeff. He has a brother, too, who ends up being a major part of the story, named Barry. Maybe I’m mistaken, but don’t aliens usually have more…unusual names than Jeff and Barry? I guess it makes things easier than naming them something like Oxtun Mynxbianth, but still, it’s part of the experience.

Unconventional alien names aside, JFG is a ton of fun. A 3-D run-and-gun adventure, the player runs around shooting giant bugs, and liberating Tribals along the way. It is possible for a second player to join in the fun after fixing a robot, named Floyd (ugh, come on…why not GQX 2000 or something?), who can target and shoot enemies, as well as take part in some unique missions to unlock more cool stuff. If the third person view isn’t your thing, you can change it to a first person view by holding down the R button, although, the N64 controller being what it was, this is a little impractical for those of us with small hands. JFG also contains a good old fashioned multiplayer death match mode. Oh, how many hours did my friends and I waste on these multiplayer games when our time could have been much better spent reading books? Ha, I’m just kidding. No one reads books (beware America, my generation’s gonna be in control soon enough! Get your affairs in order now).

Once all the power ups are collected and the Tribals freed, the final battle with Mizar is on, although it is revealed Mizar is actually a robot under the control of Jeff’s evil brother Barry. Needless to say, the twins and their dog prevail, and, although they disobeyed their orders to do it, are celebrated as heroes. Much like Jack Bauer, come to think of it.

Jet Force Gemini is a tremendously fun, immersive game, with tons of unlockables, multiplayer gameplay, and a great story (alien sibling rivalry? Sign me up!). The question is, why in the world isn’t this game talked about more? Did it just get lost in the N64/Playstation mix? It’s pretty awesome if you can pick it up anywhere, or maybe it could be see a release on the Virtual Console, but definitely give it another look. Now then, the phone sex commercials are starting to come on, which means it’s way past my bed time, so I’m wrapping this up. I do solemnly swear to get more of these out way more often, starting with a double column on Super Mario Land’s 1 and 2. As always, roll on down to the forums or email me any questions, comments, criticisms, requests, marriage proposals, or perhaps, just to say “hi”. See you next time!