Nintendo just had a "Jemeni Summit" at its corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash., and the Milkman was on hand to check it out.
Anyone who has been following the progress of Rare's Jet Force Gemini should prepare for a gameplay shift that extends beyond the premise of the basic game itself. Basically a 3D shooter, JFG features three characters: Juno, Vela, and Lupis. The characters have been redesigned since E3 in a more mature style - a terrific improvement in this editor's opinion. Gone are the big heads and red shorts, and in their place are designs reminiscent of the classic cartoon series Battle of the Planets.
As for the characters, each sports a unique special ability - Juno can walk on fire, Vela can swim underwater, and Lupo can jump ten times as far as anyone in the game. You begin the game with Juno, but as you progress through the game, you'll be able to unlock the other characters. Once you've acquired those characters you'll have the option of commanding them to help you progress through certain areas that is possible only with the help of one of the character's special ability.
Jet Force Gemini also features some various gameplay styles as you progress. For example, the first third of the game feels extremely Metroidlike. The second portion of the game is based on finding parts of your spaceship in order to fight the ultimate evil villain, Mizar. The third portion of the game has you take to the skies in a jetpack to find power-ups that allow you to fly and gather higher power-ups in the game.
Visually, the game looks like a space opera-version of Zelda. It's quite amazing considering no code was borrowed from Miyamoto's title - it's a completely original engine that resembles Zelda to the tee. And aurally, the soundtrack - epic and orchestral - is absolutely astounding. It fits the game perfectly. The control is nice too - it'll switch from a Turok style of control to a GoldenEye style, depending on the situation or area you're in.
Jet Force Gemini features a multitude of multiplayer games. There are the standard two- or four-player split screen modes, but then there's also a racing game that becomes available once you unlock it. The racing portion of JFG uses the Diddy Kong engine, but it looks nothing like that game - instead we're now treated to racing that looks like a fancier, smoother version of Wipeout. There's also an old-school '80s arcade racer that can be unlocked in the game Shen Mue style. (You walk into an arcade and can play it there.)
As you've most likely discerned by reading through this article, much of Jet Force Gemini focuses on the idea of unlocking extra items, characters, or stages. One of the objectives of the game is to find as many Tribles (Ewoklike creatures) as you can, as they provide you with extra things to use. There is also a character named Floid whom you can acquire later in the game - first you must find all the parts to build him. Floid is a tiny flying robot who sticks with you for the rest of the game once you've put him together. The game even gives you the option of letting a second player control Floid.
One of the most impressive features I found in the game was that it holds more than two-and-a-half hours of cinema. Also, the title screen changes, depending on which levels you've uncovered or which characters you've found. There are even extra levels that you don't necessarily have to complete (like the secret agent levels of Goldeneye), but if you do you're awarded with the game's best secrets.
Overall, I was quite impressed with my experience with Jet Force Gemini. I'll admit to having been skeptical of the title earlier, but with the recent changes - such as the new character art - I can honestly say that this is one game you'll definitely want to check into.