“JET SET RADIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!” – Professor K, circa 2000
once again I apologize for the crappy gif, couldn’t find a 500 width video of Professor K
That’s right twelve years later a re-release of one of the classics from SEGA’s Dremacast, Jet Grind Radio, has reached XBLA and PSN players for only $10 or 800 Live Points. The game’s cel-shaded graphics, amazing soundtrack, and addicting gameplay are all redone in now HD graphics, so you can relive those memories of skating in Toyko-to…or well remember playing a game of skating in Toyko.
Story: The game begins with Professor K (above) telling the player about a “rudie” and how they live their life in Tokyo, skating and spraying, as means of expression of one’s self. Tokyo-to is split into three parts due to rivaling gangs, all based and drawn/mapped, off real Japan locations: Shibuya, Kogane, and Benten. You control the gang called the “GG’s”, where you you control/start off as Beat, a 17-year old skater who was denied from the other gangs and so created his own. Upon playing the first level and receiving more members, you start to take over the other gang’s turf, gain more members, and spraying the town, all while avoiding the police at the same time. Upon defeating rival gangs like Poison Jam, the Cyborgs, and the Love-shockers, you meet the true antagonist of the game Gouji, and his Yukuza style gang the Golden Rhinos who plan on taking over Tokyo.
Gameplay: Those who have played Tony Hawk games would get some of the concepts of control on Jet Grind Radio, but in its entirety it plays very different from THPS. First off, you are allowed to do tricks and grind on rails, as THPS, but the difference is that you don’t require a button-command to do so, jumping on a ramp at high speed ro a rail automatically does a grind for you. The difference is you touch which direction every time you grind to do a different trick. In addition, a key concept in Jet Set Radio is that of dashing, because with no speed you can’t grind very far or do air tricks (which are automatic based off speed and height).
There are actually five locations in the game, Tokyo-to and Grind City (based of my hometown New York City), which you travel to do “missions”. Missions either require you to “tag” (graffiti) over other gang’s signs/tags, race against other members, or “eliminate” other gangs by spraying them ten times each (three members so thirty overall sprays). Graffiti/spraying/tagging is done in three forms, with small, large, and extra-large tags. Large and extra-large tags require you to move your analog stick, follow the pattern displaying on screen in order to spray, and maximize points. One last point to make about the levels, is each town has one segment per mission, until later on in the game, where you are allowed to explore the entire town freely.
Graphics: The cel-shaded graphics still hold up and the HD rendering really brings out the vibrancy in the towns and skaters. The only problem has to be with the usual buggy, wrong angled camera, and the fact some of the non-main characters look like Lego’s.
Music: Jet Set Radio HD has an amazing soundtrack. The music spans from 28 (2 songs were excluded) different songs includes an eclectic array of original and licensed songs combining the musical genres of J-pop, Hip-hop, funk, Electronic dance music, Rock, Acid Jazz, Trip hop, and even metal.
My favorite tracks are: Love Trap, 054, and the Monster of Kogane. You can listen to the entire OST here.
Replay-value: Moderate-high. Although the game only has “3 chapters” (each has more missions than the next so do not worry), there are still the trophies to unlock, which most likely you didn’t unlock on your first playthrough. Finding all the characters or all the graffiti souls is tough work. Unfortunately there is no multipalyer, so forget going to head-to-head with a pal.
I really enjoyed replaying Jet Grind Radio, considering my copy for my Dreamcast doesn’t work anymore and I had to wait for a re-release. The game brings back great memories and still is a fantastic game to play even in this day. In addition, people who played The World Ends with you may find some similarities in style and music; as that game was based in Shibuya and Japanese culture/fashion as was JSR.
Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina