Review by Turbo Speed

"Vandalism pays!"

This is a special game, due to the fact that, not only did it invent a new genre of spraying graffiti and avoiding cops, but it began the cel-shading craze. Cel-Shading was the new technique, first applied in a game by Smilebit, used to make the graphics in the game look comic book-esque. After Jet Grind Radio, several other companies employed cel-shading, including Nintendo (Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker).

But still, cel-shading is only one of the many fun bonuses that this game holds. This is the game that had me hooked and always coming back for more. This game holds some sort of great feeling, and I feel compelled to return to playing this game whenever I think of it, even though I've beaten it countless times and know what will happen next. It just feels good to play it again.

The graphics are vibrant and colorful cel-shading designs. Everything in the game is rendered with this comic-esque feeling. The characters, from Beat to Tab, are animated and rendered smoothly and clearly. The environments, from Benten-Cho to Shibuya-Cho, are large, diverse, and well-designed. Tokyo-To looks best in this game. It's nice to know that this is what the Dreamcast is capable of.

If you wonder, this game introduced spraying graffiti to the world of gaming. The spraying system is innovative and the first time the system has ever been seen in a video game. The graffiti worked with you approaching a red or green arrow on the wall with some spray cans in your arsenal. You would begin by pressing the left trigger and tilt the analog stick in the directions the game tells you. When you get it right, you score some points; when you don't get it right, you mess up and don't score points. If you mess up, you start over the tilting and scoring process, which means less points; but your graffiti will still be the way you left it. You're just finishing what you sprayed if you mess up, but you'll score far less points than if you didn't mess up. An example of how the scoring system works is tilting down to score 100 points, then tilt up and right for 100 points and 200 points. If you continue and get the commands right, you start racking in big points that go up to 1,000 points. It's fun seeing if you can beat your old score and trying to do better.

Other than the graffiti spraying, there's more things in the game, such as the automatic trick function. You easily do tricks without all the falling and mind-numbing button mashing from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (though I still like Tony Hawk's games), even when you're grinding and don't really mean to do a trick. You can grind on rails easily without having to ever tilt the analog stick to the right or left worrying about falling and you can execute flips and grabs off huge jumps without worrying about making a face plant instead. You can safely jump rail to rail and make a great spin without worrying about landing on your groin. Besides never making time-consuming falls and rises from the ground, you also rack more points from tricks. You don't know how good saving points is, and I won't spoil it for you.

The characters? You only start with 3 in the beginning: Tab, Gum, and Beat. Beat recruits Gum and Tab at the beginning of the game by accomplishing their challenges. Don't worry, you recruit more members throughout the game. Pretty soon, a character will come challenge you to something and ask if you can keep up with him/her. If you can keep up after all, you unlock that said character. If you don't, you can always try again when they return later in the game and hope you've improved. There are so many characters in the game, so I won't spoil them for you. You'll have to go buy the game if you want to find out who they are.

But the fun doesn't stop there, there are missions you have to complete, such as cover an area with graffiti before you run out of time or get killed by the cops and Captain Onishima, who really hates skaters and would go over the edge trying to stop you. Each mission gets more fun as you progress and as you go, the story unfolds more.

If you get sick and tired of the graffiti designs, you can always go into the graffiti editor and design your own graffiti or connect to the Internet using the Dreamcast (if you still can, that is) and download images to use as graffiti. The possibilities of your designs could go on. Where your imagination ends, the graffiti editor ends.

Control? Some people whine about it, but I think it works perfectly. The stick is used to move you, a trigger will give you a boost, and the other trigger will allow you to start tagging graffiti. The "A" button, as always, allows you to jump. The only problem people may have seen is the slight delay time in speed boosting, but I don't really mind it.

Everything starts with Beat, the leader of a newly founded gang called the GGs. At the very start of the game (the first five minutes), Beat seeks out members to join his new gang, and he comes up with Tab and Gum. After completing their challenges, they decide to join him, and then Jet Set Radio is soon introduced as a pirate radio station. The GGs have to keep their turf secure in Shibuya-Cho, as well as rival gangs Poison Jam and Noise Tanks, who are guarding their turf in Kogane-Cho and Benten-Cho, respectively. It really begins as a simple turf war, but soon, everything becomes more complicated than just that.

The sound effects are appropriate and suit everything quite well. The spray cans make the spray sound you expect, your roller blades make the grinding noise you expect, as well as several other sound effects. Everything falls into place in this category, and all the sound effects are used where appropriate.

The music is a very good soundtrack. Several of the songs are exclusive to the game, with a few American songs thrown in (I love "Just Got Wicked"), and the songs play depending on what location you are. For example, if you're in Benten-Cho, a bunch of the dance music in the game plays. The songs have a subtlety of being used in the appropriate place, and helping generate an atmosphere.

As for the replay value, there are neat extra characters that you unlock with very good level rankings. The ways to unlock them might not be the easiest thing to do in the world, but they are the most rewarding when you finally unlock them. I would have loved to see a multiplayer mode of this game, but that came later in Jet Set Radio Future.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/05, Updated 01/02/07


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