Reviews: Jet Set Radio

Good Memories

I never had the original Jet Grind Radio game, and from the look of the other two reviews I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that's a blessing in disguise. However, I did own Future and that game was one of the best of my childhood. This was a game based on the rythem and the movement of the streets. There really was nothing else like it, the cel-shaded graphic and originality put into character designs and levels. And the amazing soundtrack didn't hurt it much either.

That doesn't mean there wasn't drawbacks, however. It was easy to get ganged up on or shoved into the fence in the "ambushes" by the police, making it frustrating in small areas. Getting up close and personal with people to tag them was difficult with the long track you had to follow. Finally, the characters, while their designs were awesome, pretty much had the same stats as each other.

All in all, it was a great game for it's time. It'd be amazing to see another sequel, and maybe Sega hasn't forgotten it. (After all, there was an HD remake and Beat appeared in Sega All Stars Racing...)

I wanna move to Tokyo-to!

It's interesting that another reviewer compared these games to Crazy Taxi, because I see the similarities; arcade-y, high concept games that are largely about racking up a high score. These types of games are Sega at it's best, though I attribute it less to the company and more with second-tier Japanese developers who weren't interested in flogging old franchises or making RPGs.

Speaking as someone who loathes the Tony Hawk games, I must say that I like Jet Grind Radio more each time I come back to it. It's got style, it's got flair, and it doesn't outstay it's welcome. I should mention that I've got the NA port, which broke up the monotony somewhat. There is decent replay value in trying to get the best rank in each stage, hopefully without performing an infinite grind loop (you cheater). The game isn't very stunt-heavy — aside from the sadistic Grind City missions. This would be great news for casual gamers. Unfortunately, the controls are realistically impaired for somebody on inline skates, meaning you'll have a hell of time avoiding the cops and (especially) the black suited goons with afros. I almost think it would be best to just die instantly when an enemy touches you. It's more annoying to hop around impotently as people dog-pile on top of me. The controls become borderline handicapped in later levels, when your enemies have guns and fly around on goddamn jetpacks. Meanwhile, you're defenseless and struggling just to turn 180 degrees. I also agree that the gang battles of tagging the t-shirts of skaters is pretty stupid.

Jet Set Radio Future was disappointing in an inscrutable way. First of all, the plot is the same. The joystick motion controls are gone, which probably hung up a few gamers who were challenged in that arena, but then it wasn't their type of game to begin with. On the plus side, the bosses are an improvement and the environments are much larger — Too large. They're vast and empty and lonely places, with too little to do in them. It's like taking the Benten highway stage from JGR and making a whole game out of it. JGR was tight and claustrophobic at times, but it wasn't supposed to be a free-roaming city with nothing to do.

In closing, Guitar Vader is the greatest band name ever. QED

(first game review) Very creative and unique, but very flawed

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).