Review by bungleinthjungle
"A COMPLETE MASTERPIECE! The love I have for this game has no bounds...a must-own!"
Have you ever bought one of those bargain-bin priced games, not really expecting much, and then have the game completely blow you away? So is the case with Jet Grind Radio for the Dreamcast. If you're looking for a game that plays like Tony Hawk, then I think you'll be really dissapointed -- originality is what this game is all about, and this is seen from the cel-shaded graphics (considered pioneering then) to the completely funkified soundtrack, not to mention the gameplay.
You are part of a roller-gang -- The GG's, who express their teen-angsty frustration (although their is much more of a purpose than just pissing off authority) by showering the streets with graffiti. There are three parts to the city, each radically different in look from the other. It is your job, as a member of the G.G.'s to challenge authority as well as other gangs who try to take over your territory -- rather than duke it out, mano y mano, the G.G.'s are pacifists and allow their art to speak for them. (I think we could all learn a lesson from that.)
To start, I should say that the graphics for this game are extremely appealing, and they rival many Playstation 2/Gamecube titles in their cel-shaded glory. The atmosphere is colorful, the characters are all extremely detailed and you really get a sense that you are no place on Earth (although the game takes place in Tokyo).
The music is one of my most favorite components of this game -- the soundtrack is extremely varied, although all of the tracks (excluding a couple of the songs from Chapter 2 -- Jurassic 5 and some other band) are completely mind-blowing and will keep you coming back for more. I don't think I've ever thoroughly enjoyed a video game soundtrack so much in my life, and that's saying a lot, considering how much I weigh music in my video games (and in my life).
As far as gameplay, I believe I have already said -- this is most definitely NOT Tony Hawk, in any way shape or form. No stats to raise. No gear to upgrade. No list of goals to complete. No long list of tricks for you to pull-off for major points. Jet Grind Radio is really all about speed, and, in some ways, strategy, as you have to figure out how to get to different graffiti-areas and how to outsmart the constant forces sent out to slaughter your ass. However, just because this game has really NOTHING in common with Tony Hawk doesn't mean you shouldn't play it -- people who hate the Hawk series will love this game for it's drastic differences in gameplay -- JGR is definitely not meant to be a technical type of game, with different grinds and grabs and flips,etc. For example, in JGR you CAN grind, but there isn't different types of grinds, and you do not have to balance during a grind. You just jump and go.
People who LOVE the Hawk man will find that there is still plenty of a challenge to JGR, although there really isn't any of the "sim" like qualities that Hawk's tend to have, and there really isn't very many unlockables beyond collecting graffiti designs.
One of the biggest problems with Jet Grind Radio lies in the camera, which sometimes gets lost when you go around or are in a corner. The button that fixes the camera back to it's correct position happens to be the same button that is used to spray -- with a little time into the game, you will come to realize that this combination can be extremely troublesome, especially in moments when your graffiti target is moving (at one point you will have to tag gang members on their backs, while they run away)! A minor quibble, considering how much this game accomplishes while managing to enthrall the gamer.
Really, there isn't much more to say about JGR without sounding like a gushy preteen at a Backstreet Boys concert. Go buy this game! Out of the nine systems and the countless games I own, I have found few that measure up to the sheer enjoyment of playing a game like Jet Grind Radio. A personal favorite of mine, and hopefully, you'll give it a chance and play it. This is one of those rare games that isn't obsessed with being realistic -- rather, it creates a world all of it's own. A MUST-BUY!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 05/25/04
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