Internet Tag FAQ by DCootey

Version: 1.2 | Updated: 06/16/01 | Printable Version

The Jet Grind Radio Internet Tag FAQ 
by Douglas "D" Cootey

20 June 2001 
Version 1.2



A) What are the basics? 
B) How do I download bitmap images off the web as tags? 
C) How do I load my downloaded bitmap tags into the game? 
D) How do I tell which tag is which on my VMU? 
E) How do I make my ownbitmap tags? 
F) What sizes are best? 
G) Where can I post my own bitmap tags for others to enjoy?

SoA = Sega of America
SoJ = Sega of Japan

A) What are the basics?

As the denizens of usenet are liable to say, "RTFM!" (Read the Flippin'
Manual!).  The Jet Grind Radio manual goes into pretty straight-forward
details about many things, but there are only two pages that give details 
about downloading tags off the net, pages 18 and 28, and those details 
are a tad sketchy.  This FAQ should explain any questions left un-
answered about downloading tags by the manual.

Many users know they can create their own tags within Jet Grind Radio
using the built in paint program, but not every user is aware that tags
can be grabbed off the web.  In fact, not every Sega rep knows that tags
can be grabbed off the web, something I discovered when I called up
asking for help.  I was repeatedly told that it couldn't be done,
despite what the manual says on pages 18 and 28.  That left me pretty
frustrated.  Afterall, using pictures, like a photo of my own face or a
scan of my art, as a tag in the game was one of the elements I thought
was going to be fun about Jet Grind Radio.

I discovered that it *is* possible to download your own tags off the
web, but that SoA had made that feature so obscure to access that even
it's own reps didn't know about it.  For some reason, SoA has disabled
the ability to type in a URL in all of its game browsers.  Without
access to a URL field, a user can't leave the SoA Jet Grind Radio page. 
I believe this was done on purpose to keep users on the Jet Grind Radio
page (or Chu Chu Rocket page, or ShenMue page, etc.).  Or perhaps SoA
didn't want to be responsible for what little Johnny grabbed off the web
to use as his own tags.  But to be fair, not all users want to spray
paint porn all over the walls of Tokyo-to (although there was that old
picture of my wife I spray painted up on a Tokyo-to wall for a laugh. 
Well, at least *I* thought it was funny.  The bruises on my arm from my
wife are fading nicely now.  Thanks for asking.)  


B) How do I download bitmap images off the web as tags?

Fortunately, the web designer for the Jet Grind Radio page had the
forsight to leave a way out of the Jet Grind Radio page on the "Links"
page.  Click on "Links" from the Jet Grind Radio home page and you will
see a link to Yahoo and a blank field for inputting a URL.  From Yahoo,
you can surf the web searching for bitmap pix to use as tags in the
game.  Or, if you know the URL, type it into the blank field.  For
instance, I used my own site to host a page for all my tags
(  Downloading an image is as
simple as placing your cursor over the image and pressing A + X
simultaneously on your controller.  Jet Grind Radio will let you choose
where you'd like to save the tag.

Once you are off the Jet Grind Radio site, there are a few things to
keep in mind when grabbing bitmaps for tags:

1) Only JPEG images can be used as tags, and only non-progressive scanned
JPEGs.  This is a limitation that makes collecting tags frustrating.  
There is really no way to determine if a picture you are looking at is a 
JPEG or a GIF using the Jet Grind Radio browser.  My suggestion is to use 
your computer's browser to do your searching.  For example, Netscape
Navigator let's you right click on an image for a submenu.  View the
image in it's own window and look at the URL bar.  If the bitmap has a
".jpg" at the end, you're in business.  Jot down the URL on a piece of
paper so you can type it into Jet Grind Radio's web page later. 
Progressive scan JPEGs are those images that load in blurry and scan in
clearer as the image finishes loading.  Using anything other than
standard JPEGs gets you a "bummer, huh?" message in Jet Grind Radio when
you try to load the tag. 

2) Try not to grab really large images.  They take up a lot of space on 
your VMU that is unnecessary.  The smaller the pictures, the more you can 
cram onto your VMU to use as tags. See the "What sizes are best?" section 
for more information. 

3) Try to grab images that are in the same proportion as the square and 
rectangular tags you've already used in Jet Grind Radio.  Otherwise, you 
will have distortion in your images.


C) How do I load my downloaded bitmap tags into the game?

Jet Grind Radio allows you to keep graffiti tags on seperate VMU's than
your saved game.  You'll need this feature if you plan on having more
than 5-6 tags.  Before selecting the Graffiti menu from within the club
house, be sure the VMU you want is in slot one of the main controller. 
Then choose to "Select Artwork from the List".  Here you will see all
the tags you've unlocked in the game.  Tags marked with an E are the
tags you've painted yourself within Jet Grind Radio's paint program. 
Tags marked with "DL" are the ones you grabbed off the net.  Using them
is as simple as clicking on them.  Because I have so many bitmap
graffiti tags, I use several VMU's to store them.  I swap between them
as needed, even within the same session.  Jet Grind Radio will keep the 
bitmaps you've selected in memory. Simply exit out of the Graffiti menu,
swap VMUs, and re-enter the "Select Artwork" section. The new tags will 
be available now for selection without wiping the ones you chose from 
the other VMU.

Many tags take into consideration Jet Grind Radio's ability to mask out 
the border color.  You will notice that most of my tags are surrounded 
by gray space.  This is so that when I import the tags into Jet Grind 
Radio I can specify that the first color is transparent.  Before select-
ing the "DL" icon with the tag you want, use your L/R trigger buttons to
specify which color number is to be transparent.  I usually select "1" 
and then click on the tag I want. My tag will now paint onto the wall 
without a border, as real graffiti is usually sprayed...  You will need 
to experiment with different numerical values until you find the masking
value that gives your tag the best transparency.

NOTE:  You will need to reload bitmap graffiti tags each time you shut
off the Dreamcast.  They are stored in volatile memory, not your saved 
game file, and thus need to be reloaded for every session of Jet Grind 


D) How do I tell which tag is which on my VMU?

Each bitmap graffiti tag is given a sequential number with the base
"PASSPORT_P00".  This system may help the VMU keep tags straight, but
the user may not remember which tag "PASSPORT_P00" versus "PASSPORT_P03" 
is.  If this concerns you, my recommendation is to keep some scrap paper
handy with a list of your tags on it with each correlating VMU filename.
You are told what the nifty filename is when you save the image as a tag
the first time. Just jot it down.  Because this can become complicated 
when multiple VMU's are in use, I personally don't bother keeping track 
of them. Clicking on each "DL" icon is easy enough to see which tag is 


E) How do you make your own bitmap tags?

I like to sketch my ideas out on paper, then ink and paint them on my
art desk before I scan them into my computer.  I also create them on the
computer within Adobe Photoshop.  Not everybody can afford Photoshop. 
All you need is a paint program that saves files in JPEG format and a
little imagination.  Use moderate JPEG compression and DO NOT save the 
image as a progressive scan JPEG.

If you have actual graffiti tags that you want to
import into Jet Grind Radio, I would recommend painting them onto a
white or neutral gray background.  When you scan the graffiti be sure to
clean up the artifacts, shrink the image down to size (see next
section), and sharpen the edges before you post it on the web.  

When cropping images in Photoshop, or another image editing program, I 
find it easiest to preset my selection marquee to a 1:1, 1:2, or 1:4 
ratio. That way I am sure to have an image in the correct aspect ratio
for displaying  in Jet Grind Radio without any distortion.

I recommend creating your own bitmap images for use as tags over 
searching the web for images to use.  First of all, this is simply a 
more rewarding avenue of expression.  Second of all, designing tags from
the ground up insures that the images are in the proper perspective for
use in Jet Grind Radio.  


F) What sizes are best?

I have found that the following dimensions are the most optimal for Jet
Grind Radio tags:

	Small: 128 x 128 pixels (1:1 ratio)
	Large: 128 x 256 pixels (1:2 ratio)
	Extra Large: 128 x 512 pixels (1:4 ratio)

These dimensions allow for the greatest amount of detail in ratio while
taking up the least amount of space on your VMU.  If these sizes sound
too small to you, I would recommend you visit my site and load some of
my tags into the game (i.e.  You 
will be surprised how detailed they are when sprayed onto a wall in 

(Check out for some sample 


G) Where can I post my own bitmap tags for others to enjoy?

If your ISP does not provide web hosting, you can find many places
online that offer free web hosting, such as Geocities, Xoom, etc.  You
don't need fancy web code to get access to your tags online from within
Jet Grind Radio.  Even the directory path will do.  For instance, using would simply list all the tags in that
directory automatically without any need for HTML code (where ""
is your ISP and "path" is your personal location on their server).  All
you'll need is an FTP program to copy your files from your computer to
your ISP's server.  Ask your ISP for more information on how to access
your files online.


(c) Copyright 2001 Douglas R. Cootey Please visit for the latest version of this

This file may be used with my permission provided my URL is included and
the contents are not changed...