Review by wreckgar
Jet Set Radio is, for want of a better description, a spray-em-up/trick-based rollerblading game. Confused! don't worry, just play the game and see how much sense this game makes. I have never played such an all-round satisfying gaming experience in all my years! I will try to explain why i rate this game so highly in the following sections; needless to say this game is in a genre of its own.
Fine;dandy. JSR is set out in such a way that it is very easy to use without being unsophisticated. The intros change from time to time, with each one showing a mind-numbing array of stunts and demonstrating the diversity of locations this game is played in. There are options to surf the net, change your tag (more on this later) save/load, and play the game. The beauty of the presentation screens is that they use the same engine as the rest of the game.
The graphics are simply amazing. The characters are stylized with chunky outlines giving the solidarity of 2d characters with the depth of 3d polys. Everything in the JSR universe has been constructed in such a way that the look of the game is distinguished from anything else ever seen. The most similar title to this in terms of looks is Parappa/Un jammer lammy, but JSR's look is so much more convincing. Graphically, this game is nothing short of a masterpiece, with probably the best in-game graphics I have ever seen.
From the catchy tunes to the rich tones of the dj (who thankfully speaks in english) the sound in this game is instantly likeable. Take my words for it that you will be singing some of the tracks under your breath for weeks. It is obvious that the programmers have taken great care to develop the soundtrack in the same mood as the graphics because they complement each other perfectly.
Ok, so Ive raved about the look of the game but what about the way it plays? This is quite difficult to explain.. You initially start the game watching one of your gang performing manouvers which you have to emulate. These range from skating along a rail to 'Tagging' cars on the fly. By tagging I mean graffiti of course, and this is one of the key elements of the game.
Tags come in three different sizes: Small, which requires one spraycan to cover, Medium, which requires around three spraycans, and Large which requires about a dozen to complete. For the larger tags it is possible to spray the entire picture in one go. When you start to spray you are prompted to move the analogue pad in a certain direction to execute the move. Subsequent moves become more complicated and it is possible to combo moves together, but you must be very quick to succeed! Doing this means you will score big points. The areas you are shown to spray depict rival gangs tags, and such is the ethos of the game: you must cover every rival gang's tag with your own to succeed in moving on to the next level.
This may sound easy but you have an insane policeman amongst other things doing their best to stop you. You will need considerable skill to tag awkward-to get to places and so the tutorials by fellow gang members must be completed before you can play the game proper. After completing a level you will meet new characters whose skills you have to match before you can advance. Upon beating them you can then use them in the later levels!!
You can also create your own tags or use additional ones which are available on levels to pick up. Getting them all is pretty hard. You can also download or use your own jpegs using the soon-to be released dreameye periphiral, so you can paint the town in your own image!! Controls are well thought out with the only downside being the slightly erratic camera. However pressing L swings the camera to a 'behind' view if you ever have any trouble. The only other downside is no two player/online mode.
This game can be completed fairly quickly if you put your mind to it, But finding all the tokens is a challenge. Besides this, the game is so damn fun to play that you will pick it up just to mess around with, even if you have cracked everything. Some of the stunts you can pull off with your rollerblades are amazing!!
This game is nearly perfect. With on-line competitive play this game would surely be one of the best games of all time. As it is, it will be very hard for anyone to match this title in terms of ingenuity and fun. It is a treat to play from start to finish and the mood of the game is so relaxing that you find it hard to get frustrated when the going gets tough. Despite what the moral implications may be when you are encouraged to graffiti all over the place, this is a game suitable for all ages because of its universal appeal. Any gamer could pick this game up and have fun with it, whatever their preferred genres.
One last point.. If I was told tomorrow that i had to get rid of all my games bar one... well Jet Set Radio would certainly make it down to the last 5. I cannot describe in words alone what a joy this game is to play, you simply must play the game yourself to understand. A beautiful game and one I will probably play for ever.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/06/00, Updated 07/06/00
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