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Jet Set Radio (known as Jet Grind Radioin the NTSC U/C region) is a platforming/skating game released by Sega for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000. The game is centered around roller-bladingstreet gangs consisting of teens and young adults called Rudies, who battle for turf by spraying graffiti around the streets of Tokyo-to. Meanwhile, the Rudies's culture is under attack by an evil corporate conglomerate which seeks to homogenize the city and whose leader seeks to take over the world through demonic means. The game pioneered the use ofCel Shading to create cartoonish characters and backgrounds using 3D polygon graphics. The game is also remembered for its eclectic soundtrack.A sequel, Jet Set Radio Future, was later released for Xbox, though calling it a "Reformulated Game" might be more apt; while many characters (and Tokyo itself) were drastically changed, elements were subtly changed, and it has a vague connection to the first game, the story is, at a glance, the same, with some added bits and details here and there. Perhaps wary of the first game's lukewarm reception, developer Smilebit decided that the game must have played too slowly, and removed the joystick motion feature used for tagging graffiti. Now, instead of standing still, all graffiti is tagged by holding the trigger while moving along the piece. In addition, more emphasis was put on characters' speed and momentum, and grinding is now significantly more important(and easy); levels have been designed to allow for more flowing grind combos, and a simple trick system allows you to keep yourself going on a rail.Despite heavy promotion first Sega, neither game sold that well. Microsoft bundled JSRF together with Sega GT 2002 and sold it as a console pack-in for the Xbox, but even that didn't help much. Smilebit was scattered to the winds following the Sega-Sammy merger, later to be restructured into Sega's Sports R&D, who have made the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games...games, and nothing else.Despite all that though, the games are still fondly remembered, with Jet Set Radio considered to be one of the Dreamcast's defining games, and Jet Set Radio Future being considered one of the Xbox's best exclusives. The games have gotten plenty of love from the Sega Superstars crossover games, including All-Stars Racing, which features nothing but Future representation.The original Jet Set Radio was re-released in full HD on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and PC in September 2012, though whether or not the re-release sold well enough to warrant further games has yet to be seen.Not to be confused with Jet Set Willy, an unrelated game.
The Jet Set Radio series contains the following tropes:
Absurdly Spacious Sewer; This game takes it to the extreme, especially in JSRF. Expect to spend a few chunks of both games in these.
Action Commands: When "tagging", the larger the tag, the more commands. Totally absent in JSRF.
Adaptation Dye-Job: And how. Tab/Corn goes from brunet to blond (and so does Piranha/Boogie), Yoyo goes from being a redhead to having lime green hair, and Combo goes from having black hair to blue hair. Not to mention everybody changes outfits, and most of the changes are pretty significant, too.
All There in the Manual: The year Future takes place is never explained in-game, but according to pre-release details and advertisements, it's set in the year 2024. Some details about characters in Grind are also only seen in the manual.
Afro Asskicker: The Golden Rhinos each look they they've stepped out of a Tarantino film, with seventies hair and mustaches.
Anthropomorphic Zig Zag: Once unlocked as a playable character, Potts can transform from a quadruped into a rollerblading, spraycan-wielding canine of justice. This occurs as a result of his dog-napping by the Noise Tanks, who outfit him with a helmet which makes Potts believe he's a cow. During a second playthrough, the Noise Tanks finally agree to 'fix' Potts - but only if you earn a "Jet" ranking in every stage.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: In JSRF, several hidden characters are often nothing more than re-skins; despite having to get a "Jet" rank on several difficult challenges to play as minor characters and antagonists, several of them turn out to be pretty much the same thing. Note that it's not even subtle sometimes with certain combinations: Cube, the ex-leader of Poison Jam, is different only in clothes and color, even retaining the same skills and dances; the same applies for YoYo, Beat and their robot counterparts, who are identical save for different colors and an altered model respectively.
The Rapid 99 get bonus points for essentially not wearing any pants, which cannot be good for rollerblading at all.
Battle in the Center of the Mind: When Rokkaku sucks you and hundreds of bystanders into his Humongous Mecha, you are transported into an acid-trip version of Tokyo filled with shadow creatures that constantly run after you. During all this, Rokkaku situates himself on the highest part of his dreamworld where he then transforms himself into a giant monster on skates. You have to grind and jump all the way up in order to fight him.
Bloodier and Gorier: The original Jet Set Radio had plenty of violence, mostly of the Wile E. Coyote sort; but only Gouji died onscreen, and Coin perished in a single static comic panel. The sequel took the safety brakes off and gave the bad guys gruesome deaths.
Burning Rubber: The skates in JSRF emit plumes of flames when you go fast enough.
Camera Screw: Both games have pretty miserable cameras, with the only game having an adjustable camera being the HD re-release of the original. Both games require you to reset the camera to move it, which works sometimes and screws you over other times. Future's camera also snaps to look at your piece while spraying, blocking your view from heading into a Bottomless Pit and also managing to screw up your controls.
Car Fu: JGR's cops have no compunctions about running you over with their cruisers or motorbikes.
Changing of the Guard: In JSR, Yo-Yo is a character unlocked near the end of the first chapter. In Future, he replaces Beat as the first person you play as and who has to go through the tutorial.
Subverted, he's kidnapped and rendered unplayable for about two-thirds of the game.
Character Select Forcing: On your first playthrough, the Grind City flashbacks may only be played through as Combo or Cube. You can select anybody you like during a New Game+.
Chekhov's Gun: In Chapter 5 of Future you can see an evil-looking tower in the background. No attention is drawn to it, and no one mentions it, so you'd assume it to just be a background element, right? Turns out it's the device used by the Big Bad at the end of the game to absorb some sort of energy from the people of Tokyo, and sends you and them into an alternate dimension.
Cooking Duel: The gangs resort to competitions of skating skill to settle their differences directly. All of the 'boss' battles are just tagging people within a set time limit. It Makes Sense in Context.
Conveniently Empty Streets: The moment the military shows up, pedestrians magically vanish from the scene. Needless to say, this removes (some) of the guilt associated with crashing helicopters into commercial buildings.
When you fight the Immortals on Highway Zero in Future, you can clearly see busy traffic before the cutscene, but after that's over, all vehicles disappear to make way for your battle.
Couldn't Find a Pen / Dying Clue: Coin's final instructions to his friends were, fittingly enough, written in graffiti. It's a cryptic mural featuring rhinos, an airplane and arrow pointing to Tokyo-to. Presumably, the Rhinos didn't catch onto its meaning.
JSRF features multiple songs implying and making explicit direct references to highly sexual situations, as well as the aformentioned "Porn Star" and a couple songs featuring completely uncensored explicit swearing. Really pushing that T rating.
Graffiti of the Resistance: This is the premise in the games. Rokkaku and his corporation have bought practically all of Tokyo in the future; your player character is a gang leader who sticks his middle finger to Rokkaku by spraying graffiti all over the town.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Golden Rhinos of JSRF make colorful departures when defeated, such as getting hit by a stray missile fired from a Rokkaku harrier jet. The flamethrower assassin is immolated when her flame tank explodes, and then crushed by a falling billboard sign which she had previously set aflame.
Yoyo's profile for both games describe him as a Self-Proclaimed Liar, which could explain why Professor K calls him "a guy who'll blow your mind with his silver tongue" in Future.
Improbable Weapon User: Every Rudie with a spray can. Adding to the fun, all the spray cans floating about are described in the tutorial as concentrated "Soul of the Streets". You're not just knocking down the police with graffiti, you're doing it with Soul juice!
Improvised Weapon: Graffiti has the ability to blow up skyscrapers, helicopters and mecha on a regular basis. "Agh, spray paint, my only weakness."
Rokkaku's Humongous Mecha starts to collapse after you defeat him at the end of JSRF.
Locomotive Level: Sort of, in the sense that you're chasing after a locomotive robot.
Lonely at the Top: At the conclusion of the game, Professor K speculates this might have been the case with Gouji Rokkaku.
The Men in Black: The Golden Rhinos. Professor K announces their arrival by referring to them as a new gang; it's plain to see, however, that they're working for Rokkaku Corp. Their 'graffiti' is merely Rokkaku advertisements plastered over your own burners.
Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The soundtrack, composed by Hideki Naganuma, incorporates elements of many genres such as rock, funk, and techno to make a very unique sound.
Never Say "Die": Coin's body is plainly visible in a cutscene, lying dead at the foot of his mural. Nobody ever refers to him as such: rather than avenge Coin, Cube asks the gang to help her for "the sake of Coin." The ending states that he was another victim of Gouji's machinations, but doesn't explicitly say "assassinated."
New Game+: After beating the game once, you could play it again with a selection of new levels.
Given the fact that you unlock a dozen characters after you finish the story, you have to wonder why this is absent in JSRF.
Nice Hat: In both games, Corn/Tab's eyes are hidden beneath his hat.
As a gang, the Immortals' gimmick is that they're bowler hat-wearing mummies.
Nintendo Hard: Larger levels can be quite frustrating: you have to tag each of dozens of spots with graffiti, while collecting cans (you can only hold 20-25, they're limited, some spots use up nine of them, and often you'll go a while without seeing any) and running away from police, who will come at you in helicopters and on jetpacks even while you're tagging. Oh, and there's a time limit.
No Communities Were Harmed: Weirdly subverted. Tokyo is referred to by name, but it bears almost no resemblance to the real Tokyo. Also, Tokyo-to is actually the full name of Tokyo ("to" is a suffix meaning "city/metropolis").
Occidental Otaku: Combo can be assumed to be this. He has a yen necklace, has no trouble speaking to the GG's, and very likely got the idea for his gang from the various gangs around Tokyo. And it's not like they couldn't have changed his necklace in the western release(Cube got an entire redesign for the west).
Oddly Small Organization: The rival gangs have three members each. (Or at least we assume, we only see three at once. It's likely that the other gangs are around the same size as the GGs.)
Police Are Useless: When assassins with guns and firebombing-throwing terrorists go after you, the police are nowhere to be seen. One intro states that they're too scared to even touch them.
It's stated in Future that the Rokkaku Police are owned by Rokkaku Gouji, and so are the Golden Rhinos. It's even stated that Hayashi gets fired for incompetence and the Rhinos are essentially replacing the police. It's never stated if Gouji ever buys out the Tokyo-to police department by the time the Rhinos show up, so the trope could still be in play.
Regional Bonus: The North American release of JGR contains an extra mission sandwiched between the two run-throughs of Tokyo.
Also, each regional release of the game had some songs that the other version didn't. Most of these region-exclusive songs were included in the HD re-release though.
Remixed Level: The second half of JGR consists of beating the same three city districts again — only this time, the maps aren't segmented into individual missions; You have to tag the entire district at once.
Sailor Earth: Combo's gang on the other side of the Pacific.
Sampling: Very prevalent in both games' soundtracks.
Sanity Slippage: Over the course of JSRF, Hayashi's already-lacking sanity wears down more and more with each defeat he suffers.
Saving The World With Art: The whole game is about rollerskating around and tagging over the graffiti of other roller gangs. Halfway through the game, there's a shift and you start tagging the art of the Rokkaku Group, becoming The Last DJ and resisting the evil group. In the end, you manage to defeat the final boss who is a demon summoned by the Corrupt Corporate Executive using nothing but your graffiti.
Scoring Points: Deceptively important — Earning a "Jet" ranking in each level is the key to unlocking characters. Tagging and performing stunts adds to your score, as does completing the level with lots of time left on the clock.
Though all it does in Jet Set Radio Future is unlock some of the Graffiti Souls.
Sequel Hook: Both games have one at the end. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a follow up to Jet Set Radio Future.
Shout-Out: Surprisingly, to Downtown's Hamada and Matsumoto of all things. The original Jet Set Radio (and its remakes) feature an XL-size graffiti of Hamada giving Matsumoto the Dope Slap as per their trademark.
There Was a Door: Played for laughs in the first stage of Kogane. One method of crossing the river is plowing through a half-dozen plaster wall apartments. It's not until later that Garam shows you a cleaner route.
Thriving Ghost Town: Averted. The game's most important character is Tokyo itself, and is designed to overwhelm the player with the sprawl of the urban landscape, populated by endless terrified NPCs.
Title Drop: Inevitable, as the pirate station the game is based around is called "Jet Set Radio". But in the sequel, Professor K goes out of his way to say "Jet Set Radio Future!" near the endgame.
Translation Convention: Despite hailing from the states, Combo and Cube have no trouble communicating with the Japanese Rudies. Possibly justified in that JSR's setting exists somewhere between reality and punk fantasy.
Villain with Good Publicity: No one makes the connection between the Golden Rhinos, a notorious gang of Asian killers, and Gouji Rokkaku, whose corporate mascot is...a gold rhino. Gouji's sheer wealth probably makes this a Justified Trope, though.
When All You Have Is a Hammer: The final boss of JGR coverts the roof of his office tower into a giant turntable. To defeat him, you must (Anyone?) grind rails to reach the adjoining towers and (Bueller? Bueller?) spray graffiti over his occult symbols.