Jet Set Radio
Sega - 2000
Machine: Sega Dreamcast, Microsoft XBox
Let’s face it, Jet Set Radio should have been a massive hit for Sega. Everyone should have bought a Dreamcast because of it. The world may even have become a better place because of this.
But the world is still a hateful place and, no, Jet Set Radio was not a monster hit.
The basic premise is that gangs of ‘kids’ have started to spray graffiti art all around the city of Tokyo-to. The city has been divided into regions by the different gangs, all of whom seem to prefer nuclear powered roller-blades as a means of transport. And, yes, having roller blades will require you to perform lots of exciting tricks and stunts. You compete with other gangs for control, marking your territory with your gang’s tags (which you can customise.) The government don’t like it, and they have teamed up with an evil corporation to stop your gang of vandals. On later levels you will find yourself being chased by armed police, helicopters and tanks. Linking all of this madness is the pirate radio station run by the mythical Professor K. He acts as a sort of Greek chorus, filling you in with bits of story.
You have a HQ where your fellow gang members hang out. You can add to your numbers by challenging other skaters, who will ask you to emulate their tricks. It’s tough, frustrating but extremely satisfying to beat these aces. The levels are really well laid out, with lots of things to destroy and smash into. The actual graffiti aspect is brilliantly done, with the larger bits of graffiti requiring nimble movement of the Dreamcast’s analogue stick.
Of course, what really stands out are the beautiful graphics. They look great to this day, with the cell shading effect still totally effective. Not only do the graphics look great, they move amazingly well; the animation is absolutely superb and the character design is faultless. Tokyo-to is a wonderfully colourful place, packed full of people and traffic. You can perform tricks and stunts on almost anything. This is a game that doesn’t tease you with “maybes” or “what ifs”; if you want to do something in the game, you probably can.
The sound is great too. The effects are really crunchy and vivid. Some people complain about the music being repetitive, but the way the music merges and mixes together is a real achievement in sound design. In any case, I love the music of Jet Set Radio, incredibly atmospheric and not just a lazy way to sell some Ministry of Sound CDs.
Fast, beautiful, addictive; this was Sega at their very best. Games like Jet Set Radio don’t come along often enough, so this particular game comes with the highest of recommendations; You can’t find a Dreamcast? Well, then you’ve even got a second chance to play Jet Set Radio (Future) on the X-Box, and it really is a terrific conversion. Don’t you dare miss it.
Bubbaray 21 Jan '03
ebay - You should be able to pick yourself up a Dreamcast and Jet Set Radio for next to nothing these days. Or you can always get the XBox sequel if you have one of those.
IGN's Jet Set Radio page - Loads of screenshots, reviews and features.
Wikipedia's Jet Set Radio page - Lots of great information.