Jet Set Radio Review

Jet Set Radio front cover

Join the gang life, crank up the beat and spray some graffiti in this stylish and unique game!

Story

A city in Asia named Tokyo-To is pestered with rival gangs on roller skates who mark their territories with graffiti tags. The government and the Rokkaku Construction Group has initiated a program called “21st Century Project” which tries to battle cultural freedoms such as music and graffiti – and the gang sub-culture will not take it.

You are a member of the GG’s, a gang of rag-tag chicks and dudes that are in the middle of every possible conflict going on in the city be it government, police or rival gangs. The GG’s has come to be the gang that steps on everyone’s toes and apparently likes it that way!

To keep you updated with what’s going on in the streets there’s DJ Professor K, the host of a pirate underground radio station that will provide the latest buzz and the funkiest tunes on earth.

The Game

Jet Set Radio is without a doubt one of the most expressive games ever done. It has a strong political message and some of the most stylish and unique graphics ever produced. There’s super cool music that will eat itself into your brains and it has awesome gameplay! There’s something for everyone here.

At first glance this looks like a comic book style extreme sports game. But that’s only half the truth. Sure the game is basically about skating around the city doing tricks on your magnetically enhanced roller skates, but its variety comes from attempting various mission objectives. As a gang in the gritty street life you will have to prove yourself tough to gain respect from people – and this is actually the way you will recruit new people to your gang. New people in your gang means new playable characters. Naturally, each one has their strengths and weaknesses and you will have to try which one suits your play style the best.jet_set_radio_6

Content

During your exploits in the streets you will be introduced to the different gangs that rule the different territories. There are The Noize Tanks who specialize in nightlife (in their own wicked way) and the Poison Jam who dress up in monster masks to spread fear among others.

You will be challenged to different kinds of competitions during the course of the game. Before you head out to town, you are prompted with a city map where you can select where you want to go and what you want to do. This is essentially the level selection screen, but it also shows the current missions that are available to you. All in all there are around 30 missions to take on and 15 playable characters.

Some missions will have you pray your tag onto rival gang members – this is done by chasing them down and spraying their backs. In other challenges you must race to reach a certain location before your challenger. While some of these challenges are fairly easy there are hard ones too. While you given some choice in the matter, you must beat the available challenges in order to proceed to the next ones.

Sooner or later the police will be on your tracks and it’s up to you to get out of the way – be careful though as they really want nothing else than to beat you into a pulp or possibly even put a cap in you!

There is plenty of variety in this game. You can try to beat score records and unlock new spray designs or just roam the city and search for new spray designs, hone your trick combos or just explore and try new tricks. If you want to reach the high scores you must do trick combos, which basically are chains of tricks and the longer you can keep it up the better. There is many interesting locations to visit and it all looks beautiful, alive and colorful. In one stage you can actually blaze through some apartments having furniture etc flying all over the place.

Another awesome feature in this game is that you can design your own spray designs in the Painter mode, which works as an integrated paint software where you can draw freely and try different color schemes to your heart’s content.jet_set_radio_2

Controls

The controls are a sheer pleasure to handle and after the short tutorial you will be doing insane tricks and stunts in no time. Once you collect some spray cans you can start doing graffiti and there are certain locations (most often places where other gangs have their tags) where you can put your mark. In order to spray your tag, arrows will appear on the screen showing you what motion you must mimic with your thumbstick to spray. Failing this means that you will lose some cans and must collect new ones to finish the graffiti art piece.
If you mess up and get hurt you can collect recovery items and for the most part they are easily available.

Graphics

The graphics in Jet Set Radio is simply brilliant. It’s colorful and it’s loud – it captures the atmosphere of the big city in a unique way. The game runs very smoothly and is a real feast for the senses. There’s lots of detail to discover and both the day and night levels look fantastic. It’s a true piece of art and the designers really got this right. You will see what I mean when you blaze through the busy streets of Tokyo-To with lightning speed. Jet Set Radio may be one of the most striking games out there, simply because the art direction goes perfectly with the sound.

Sound

This is one of those rare occasions where the game looks like it sounds and vice versa. There is almost 30 catchy tunes included and you can select which one you want from the jukebox before starting the next mission. The genres vary from indie to funk and hip-hop. Every song is carefully picked and certainly gives the overall presentation an unprecedented lift. Top quality production.

Summary

Let there be no doubt about it; Jet Set Radio is a game that every gamer should check out. If not for the pleasure of doing tricks and finding the longest rail to grind on, then at the very least to experience the unique graphical and musical masterpiece that this game represents.

Developed By: Smilebit
Published By: Sega
Version Reviewed: Sega Dreamcast
Genre: Sports / Extreme
Players: 1
Alternate Title: Jet Grind Radio
Also Available On: Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC
Released: 2000-11-24

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