Review by mf29
"I have yet to find one Dreamcast exclusive that sucks."
Jet Grind Radio was one the best Dreamcast exclusives. The game was like no other, and it made a mark in gaming history because of it's cell shading visuals, the unique music, and a combination of 3 genres. The majority of the game, you are basically skating around on what seems to be Jet Roller Skates. The main motive and goal in the game is graffiti. The game takes place in a Tokyo like town, where a group of skaters unite together to claim the cities as theirs. However, other gangs and clans are also spraying up turf to gain the crown as well, this is where most of the story comes through. Throughout the game a group of policeman and the army are always nearby to make sure that your graffiti antics do not see the light of day. Depending on how many times they fail to stop you, they take more drastic measures each time. For example, they will start off with gun shots, if these do no prevail, they start to advance in their arsenal. They even go to measures as extreme as getting Tanks and Helicopters to do the job. This can get annoying but can mostly be avoided by traveling to certain areas, which are basically classified as being policeman free.
I do not exactly know how many hours are put into this game, but if I were to make a guess, I would say somewhere around 8 hours at the most. Some missions do get repetitive, but there seems to be enough variation to keep the player interested. Throughout the game on a regular basis, new members will challenge you to a skate off, and if you win, they join your crew. Each new member that wants a challenge is of course more experienced in skating, and the missions to obtain these new members gets more arduous each go round. But of course it is worth it, because your team will need some diversity. Each member of your gang is good at certain things more or less than others. There are three categories of skill, I do not remember them 100% but I would say they were
I think the strength determines how many spray cans the character can hold. A person that can hold the most spray cans, is basically the wisest choice of a character. Stocking up on spray cans after each tag gets annoying, and you will want to hold as much as you can. Some graffiti spots are large, and they take anywhere from around 10-15 spray cans to complete. With a person who holds about 20, you will run out quickly. When spraying graffiti, a window pops up, and in that window lies a direction. They vary from clockwise, counterclockwise, and other strokes that can only be explained with a drawing. If you fail to push the analog in the correct way, you will waste your cans, and you will have to start it all over again. Mastering the spray technique is important, and this is where the Technique attribute comes in. People with high technique, do not have to do as much squiggly or confusing strokes. This makes it easier to spray graffiti. But if you master the strokes, it doesn't matter much either way.
There are some basic controls beside the spraying. There's jump, a and button to gain speed. To grind a rail, all that it takes is to just jump on the rail. The game lacks skating depth, because it is mostly based around graffiti and tagging. Gaining speed is also important, you might be trying to escape the cops, and grind a rail that is escalating upwards. The speed boost only lasts for a certain amount of time, and you will need to wait about 3-4 seconds to boost yourself again. The more tricks or rails you grind, the faster you will move naturally. This can be taken advantage of evidentially. You can also skate up half-pipes and do tricks as well. Some graffiti spots are very petite, and you can spray them by just pressing one button. These can be sprayed by moving, jumping, or even jumping off half-pipes. You can also spray individual policemen, to make them stop moving or chasing you. This comes in handy, and is basically the only way to attack one. But it also takes away some spray cans, which can be painful at times.
In JGR, almost no spot in the game is not assessable. With rails moving up and down, they can lead you to higher platforms and buildings. In some cases, you are supposed to do this, because sometimes graffiti spots are up here. Every time you spray, you are always spraying over someone else's graffiti. To complete every stage, you need to spray all of the graffiti spots before the time runs out. Some missions include spraying an entire graffiti team on their backs. If this is completed, you can gain street credit, and the other gangs will respect you. When doing tricks on rails, when you jump you will do a trick in mid-air, doing these over and over will help you can gain speed and as well as air. You can basically jump from rail to rail, it doesn't even matter how far away a rail is from another if your speed is up. Of course as you progress through the game, the missions get more difficult. Difficulty in this game comes in different shapes. Sometimes, there will be more graffiti spots to spray, or you will even have to travel to different areas within the stage, or the time limit will lower, which basically rushes you to complete faster.
The graphics seem to use the full potential of the Dreamcast. The cell shading looks great and look somewhat similar to Budokai 3. The effects such as the smoke, explosions, and sparks look up-to-par. The music is brilliant. The soundtrack is made up of different artists and groups. The basic genre of the soundtrack is, techno, funk, hip hop, and electronic. Some of these tracks are down right miraculous, and they mostly capture and match the atmosphere that the stages give off. Whether the stage takes place in a Japanese city at dark, or a cheery bright sunny day, each track correlates well to each area. Since the game is called Jet Grind Radio, throughout the game, each track sounds as if someone is turning the nob on a radio, you will hear basic radio static in between each track, which gives off the vibe as if someone is actually hosting a radio station. Of course there is actually a DJ in the game, and he actually narrates the storyline,and I guess he is the one that is changing the tracks on his radio station. The tracks will leave you humming afterwards, or might even have you browsing the internet the find the tracks.
There are some other features in the game that I am not quite sure of. I think that you can actually browse the internet, and download custom graffiti tags that you can use. Or you can create your own in the game, and save onto your VMU. Internet multilayer is unknown, I do not know this in particular. The bottom line is that, this game is unique, and brings a funky vibe to the Dreamcast. The game is most memorable for it's soundtrack though. Having a Dreamcast and not this game is a sin, and you should be ashamed for not having it in your possession. If haven't played this game before, download it, buy it, do anything you can to play it.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/24/08
Game Release: Jet Grind Radio (US, 10/30/00)
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