When Jet Grind Radio
was created, there was nothing like it. Its cartoon-style graphics (complete with black outline and two-tone shading!), multi-song per level soundtrack, and original gameplay concept were totally fresh, and I just had to check the game out.
The good was enough to make me overlook (or put up with) the flaws, but they did begin to pile up after a while. So I'll sum them up here.
The play control is bad. It's hard to aim and land jumps, failing to spraypaint causes the camera to snap behind you (the same button controls both functions), and the "speed up" function works half the time you push it. It's very frustrating trying to land on specific railings to grind, and I think a sort of semi-"homing land" feature that compensates for intent would help tremendously, and would also speed up the game's pace a bit. And the "boss fights" in which you tag the enemy's back 10 times? You have to get really close, and bumping into them by accident will spin you around, along with the camera - since camera centering and spraypaint are the same button after all.
Now that that's out of the way, let's focus on the good.
I love the concept of not being able to fight, and instead having to use fancy acrobatics to evade and escape danger. You rollerblade up and down railings, telephone wires, and even slide off of walls. This is a game in which movement itself is fun (barring control faults), and it's built entirely around that concept. It's also refreshing to see a non-combat action game that manages to be lots of fun to play.
A few changes were made to the US version. Besides the name change (it was originally called Jet Set
Radio), some characters were modified (Cube, a goth, had her outfit redesigned to look more "American"), and two awesome new levels were added. These levels aren't huge, but they're a lot of fun, and are themed after US locales - Chicago and Times Square. Both levels benefit from having been designed later, as they're more streamlined and easier to navigate, even with the control issues. Plus, I love the settings.
Jet Grind Radio
, for better or for worse, is classic Sega. It's what I most associate with the company - very creative, annoyingly flawed, and cool despite being corny (see also: Sonic The Hedgehog
, Crazy Taxi