Jet Force Gemini
Machine: Nintendo 64
This was the first sign that Rare were not always in possession of the Midas touch. Sometimes they got it wrong. Badly wrong, in fact. Jet Force Gemini was highly anticipated by N64 owners to the extent that it got rave reviews on the basis of screenshots, from even the most cynical quarters. If you look back at those reviews, you would have thought that Rare had produced a game even better than Goldeneye. In fact, Jet Force Gemini was a stinking pile of poo that was bad, bad, bad, bad from the opening screen. It is probably the poorest game that Rare have produced, and this is unforgivable from as company that has had such a high pedigree.
First of all, the design was really poor; the worst example of what happens when the West bastardizes Japanese character design. Characters with big eyes? Wow. A flying Dog? Incredible. What was going on at Rare during this time? Over confidence? Staffing problems? Laziness? Goodness knows.
The first cut scenes that explain the 'story' were long and tedious and impossible to skip through. The game itself was incredibly poorly thought out, with simplistic baddies (with no AI) to shoot whilst walking through a linear level. The puzzles were awful, involving little more than the age old find-the-hidden-switch scenario. The camera was poorly worked out, and this seemed to be the silliest crime, especially as Zelda had nailed the third person camera just 12 months before. This rendered the (already) tedious gameplay annoying, and loads of time was wasted just trying to move the camera so you could see what was going on. The End-Of-Level baddies were worse. You could only strafe and jump from side to side (2D!) whilst trying to shoot a giant polygon that constituted the challenge.
My mate and I were gob smacked by the game, to the point where it took us three or four days to FINALLY admit that the game was nowhere near the standard that we expected from Rare; not even that, the game was downright bad. We even tried hard to enjoy the pointless multi-player mode. But no, even that seemed painfully tacked on.
All of this points to the fact that Rare are no longer great at original ideas, and if their character design is as bad as Jet Force Gemini suggests, then they will be in real trouble without the bank of Nintendo characters to draw upon. I have to say that I think Microsoft have bought the company that produced Jet Force Gemini, not the company that made Goldeneye or Diddy Kong Racing, or even Banjo and Kazooie. It'll be interesting to see what Rare's first game will be for the X-Box. I hope it's not a sequel to Jet Force Gemini. Please God, no.