Telocation: Gemini

Telocation: Gemini (sometimes just Telocation) is a Nintendo 64 homebrew game by the Ultra Rare team and released on 13 December 2020. In it, you control a crashlanded space cadet that befriends a robot and who work together to gather gems and escape the planet. This game was made for the 64brew game jam 2020 , and won 1st place. Well done!

You can download the ROM and source code from the download page for this homebrew game by using the password ultrarare64 or see the source code on Github and download from Drive.

I played through the game a few times and made a walkthrough if you’re stuck anywhere. The game isn’t too hard, but you never know.

Telocation: Gemini style and gameplay

This is one of the more complex homebrew games out there, so I’ll break it down into sections.

Menu and Intro

The game starts out with a nicely-rendered Ultra Rare logo followed by a simple yet useful menu.

This is then followed by a nice little cutscene made with static images and music. I love the little dial-up connection sound, really puts you in that 1999 mood.

Gameplay

The game itself is a platform/puzzle game, the objective being to traverse each stage from beginning to end and get three hidden crystals along the way.

A few levels in, you meet your robotic buddy. At any point, you can switch between playing as the cadet and robot. Each of which has a different skill set.

Cadet

  • Can jump
  • Fit through holes
  • Press small switches
  • Dies in radiation
  • Blocked by stone
  • Can be carried by robot

Robot

  • Cannot jump
  • Cannot fit through holes
  • Press big and small switches
  • Walk on radiation
  • Smashes stone
  • Carries cadet

The challenge of the game is to use each of their skills to your advantage in order to complete each stage.

As the game progresses, you get obstacles such as switches, radiation and moving platforms in increasingly complicated patterns. There are 20 levels in total, and I would recommend playing to the end since the later ones use the game’s mechanics in much more interesting ways.

2 Player mode

The game includes a 2-player mode where P1 controls the cadet and P2 controls the robot, as opposed to single player mode where you alternate between the two with the Z-trigger.

Music

The music for Telocation: Gemini was composed by Jeff Nichter from the Ultra Rare team.

I’m not an expert in composition, so I can’t really comment on the details, but I can say that the MIDI-ness of it reminds me of Runescape which adds into the retro feeling of it.

Levels

There are 20 levels in total, each with three crystals to find.

  1. Jump To It!
  2. Doors and Switches
  3. Big Robot Buddy
  4. Robot Springboard
  5. Big Switch
  6. Radioactive
  7. Connected Colors
  8. Switch Tag Team
  9. Inverted Doors
  10. Moving Platforms
  11. Spiral
  12. Loop Around
  13. River Crossing
  14. Canyon
  15. Blocked Track
  16. Raised Platform
  17. Moving Platforms
  18. Switch Maze
  19. Robot Raiser
  20. Time To Leave

‘Size’ Theme

The objective of the competition was to interpret ‘size’ into a game. The way that Telocation: Gemini achieves this is by having the two characters, a big and small one whose size give each of them different abilities.

Credits

The game was made by team Ultra Rare, which consists of:

  • James Lambert (Programming/ 3D Modelling)
  • Jeff Nichter @jtn191 (Music/sfx)
  • Marco “Cobra!” Cafolla (3d Modelling)

Conclusion and review

Telocation: Gemini is a very complete game for a homebrew game, I can certainly see why it won the competition. I think Allan Findlay sums it up best:

This felt more like a complete game. I could imagine if this was extended with different puzzles and things, you’d be buying this game.

Allan Findlay, Judge

The difficulty of the game is fairly simple. At no point does it get too frustrating, but there is a clear difficulty curve where simple tasks (like finding the right button or a place to mount the robot) became more difficult. This made it so that it feels like an accomplishment every time you find that one pesky crystal that you’re missing.

This is more of a puzzle game than a platformer in my opinion. There are no enemies and there is very little punishment for dying and there are very few places you can get softlocked and need to restart the level. My example is on the “Blocked track” stage, you can get to the second crystal and miss the platform ride back to safety.

I beat the game twice (once to get a feel for it, second to get footage) and it can be beaten in about an hour the first time around, and 30 minutes if you know what you’re doing.

I didn’t encounter any glitches in-game, but I didn’t manage to be able to save the game. I had to start again from the beginning upon restarting, but that could be an issue with my flash cart. That said, it is a very complete game. Most of the glitches that you’d see even in professional Nintendo 64 games (especially 3D ones) such as a bad camera, choppy animation, framerate reduction, model clipping are all absent.

This is a great game, and I would recommend you having a look through it at least once to see the game that set the standard for homebrew games to come.

Articles across the web

Telocation: Gemini is a Nintendo 64 homebrew game made by Ultra Rare that won 1st place in the 2020 64brew game jam. Well done!
Article published on N64 Squid

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