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Don't get me wrong, I loved this game when I was a kid and I still think it's good. It did some things excellently that made it great, such as the following:
-The level design and music, which go hand in hand. The levels were massive (for their time) and beautifully designed. They were complemented by great and fitting music. The feeling of being on a ship, a swamp, ruins, a jungle, a military base, a mine, and a palace were all captured wonderfully. This atmosphere is what makes the game special in my opinion, and it's what gives it most of its replayability.
-The variety of weapons, enemies, and combat styles keeps things unpredictable and fun. The combat gives you adrenaline, for instance in the tight corridors on your way to Juno's boss. The bosses themselves are intimidating, challenging, and fun to fight.
-The character interactions are funny. Also they're so few and far between that they're a welcome interruption to the darkness, and the presence of just ONE person on a planet draws even more attention to the isolation.
-The story is fun, especially how the three characters are separated and reunited after the personal adventures.
-Even the tribal hunt is good because it forces you to explore nearly every corner of the galaxy (although I would prefer to do that optionally as sidequests and be rewarded by extra stuff).
However replayability is hurt by the fact that the hardware is so poor. The N64 was a piece of trash unfortunately. I feel that they were way too ambitious with this system; the cartridges and console could not handle the graphics and cinematics that Nintendo wanted, and it resulted in very slow framerate, clunky and irresponsive controls, and extremely ugly and polygonal graphics that hurt your eyes. This is the case with a lot of N64 games that are admittedly fantastic, but are difficult to play again because of the bad hardware: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask (a little better), Donkey Kong 64, among others. If Nintendo were to remake this game or make a sequel, they could keep the things about the gameplay that made JFG so great, while improving the hardware problems that bring it down, since now they have the proper technology.
Keep in mind that I'm only talking about an ideal situation. I don't have faith in Nintendo to make good games like they used to...unfortunately they're only focused on making gimmicks that bring them quick sales, and dumbing down the franchises that make them great. That way by destroying the spirit of Zelda, Metroid, etc. they can expand their target audience to the casual masses. If they remake JFG that's what will probably happen, so I would advise you all to not get your hopes up.
A remake won't happen for two reasons:
1) This game didn't sell well...at all.
2) Nintendo doesn't have the rights to the game.
I also don't see how the N64 is a piece of trash. The only thing that hurt JFG were the occasional frame rate drops.
And I don't understand what that last paragraph is all about. Sure, the NSMB games, the Yoshi's Island series and a couple of Mario spin-offs have dropped in quality, but a lot of their franchises are still going strong; hell, some are actually doing even better nowadays (like Kirby, Mario and Luigi, DK and 3D Mario). Also, while I do agree that some games got dumbed down (although I am not exactly sure what you mean by this), you, like a lot of other people, are exaggerating about the gimmicks (the games that use them are few, plus they use them well most of the time).
I do not consider all this off-topic, because you included the last paragraph in your post. I am just sharing my opinion. Nintendo could do wonders with JFG (unless they gave it to the NSMB team...yuck), but they simply won't because of the two reasons I mentioned at the beginning of my message.
Which is most unfortunate.
An old man once told me: "No old man is to be trusted".
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