Tagging in a neon futuristic Tokyo
Jet Set Radio is a re-release of the classic Sega Dreamcast game.
One of the first games to use cell-shaded graphics, Jet Set Radio combines action and platforming in a three dimensional environment, allowing you to use your in-line skates to grind around levels to collect spray paint cans so you can tag (spray signs) around the level.
Since the original Dreamcast controller has a lot less buttons than current generation controllers, you could consider Jet Set Radio a simple game to play. With buttons to jump, sprint, and tag with spray paint, combined with directional and camera controls, Jet Set Radio does not require a lot of button memorization.
The fictional city of Tokyo-to is broken up into individual levels, and you have to expand your gang’s territory by defending your turf and expanding into other rival group’s areas. This is accomplished by skating around levels and spraying your tag over theirs to claim the area.
Each level contains a time limit to completely tag the area. Tokyo-to’s police force is also out to stop you from tagging each area and send out SWAT police to stop you. You have a life bar in Jet Set Radio that falls each time you are hit by the police or vehicles that drive around each area. Also if you do not finish tagging an area by the time limit, you also fail the level.
The controls in Jet Set Radio still prove to be a challenge. Using a controller, you have to use the analog stick to perform patterns to complete tags. The larger the tag, the more patterns you have to complete. There was a problem with the controller recognizing the patterns that the game required, causing the loss of the combination for the score. Character movement is also really loose so changing directions in very easy, but try and use precise controls and you may have a problem.
Jet Set Radio’s core gameplay returns without any changes, but that also brought back the slightly annoying controls.
If anything, Jet Set Radio’s graphics are bright. It features a new high definition resolution, causing the brightness to reach insane levels. The cell-shaded visuals allow for a cartoon and comic book effect, but the neon color palette can cause some eye strain. The characters are heavily stylized from the non-playable characters to the main characters that you can use.
Jet Set Radio's environments are detailed enough to give the world a real feeling in the game, but do not expect high levels of detail. It is an old game, but the cell-shading can hide the age of the game somewhat. It is surprising how well the game aged, considering newer games that use the cell-shaded technique, but Jet Set Radio’s visuals are also great.
A nice feature in Jet Set Radio is the ability to create your own tags to use in the game with the included editor. You can create almost anything you want based off the tools supplied, and it will not be long until players create very impressive tags that they created. It adds a level of customization to the game.
Jet Set Radio had one of the most incredible soundtracks and contains the majority of the original songs. The sound effects like spray painting are the same as the original and sound real. Other effects like the police officers are slightly cartoonish and there is a good amount of English voiceovers.
You will enjoy the soundtrack to Jet Set Radio, but most other sounds get lost because the soundtrack is just so good.
Worth the time?
Jet Set Radio is an excellent classic game. It is entirely worth playing if you have never experienced it before. Old school players who actually owned a Dreamcast will enjoy replaying it. It does have a different style than other action games because it actually meets quicker play gameplay. The timer in levels is slightly long and levels can get frustrating, but once you get past the learning curve it is a lot of fun.