Review by beastiecube
"One of the greatest and most original games to come out in the past decade. A work of art."
Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio)
Replay Value: 10/10
Jet Set Radio is one of the best games that the Dreamcast has to offer, and really shows off Sega's originality. It was the first cel-shaded game ever (No, Fear Effect wasn't cel-shaded), which has become a graphical technique used many games today (Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Jet Set Radio Future, Cel Damage). The story is pretty original, just like the rest of the game. You play as the GGs, a magnet powered roller blade gang in Tokyo-To, as they battle for turf with other gangs, run from the police, and fight the evil Rokkaku Corp.
At first glance, the game may appear to be just another extreme sports rip off trying to cash in on the fad. I can assure you that isn't the case at all. Tokyo-to is broken up into three main parts, Shibuya-cho, Benten-cho, and Kogane-cho, each with their respective gangs. Each section of the city has multiple areas for you to explore, people to mess with, things to pull tricks off of, and places to tag. When you start a level, you have a timer in the top of your screen, and a number of places you must tag (you can find a map with the locations by hitting start). You have to tag (spray paint) all of the spots in the given amount of time. Sound easy? It's not. You'll have lots of things that'll get in your way, such as other gangs, but mainly the Tokyo-To police force, lead by the pistol toting General Onishima. The police start as a little group of officers with nightsticks, but as the levels go on, there will be a lot more of them, and they will be much harder. You can't kill the cops, or hurt them, so the only thing you can do is run from them. This can be quite hard to do in later levels of the game where everything from tanks, to helicopters, to riot police will be thrown at you. Before you can tag any of the spots, you must collect spray cans. These can be found lying around the level. Once you get a sufficient amount of spray cans, skate up the spot you want to tag, and hit the L trigger. When you do this, a sequence of control stick movements comes up. Not unlike a bemani game, you must perform all of the movements to complete the tag. Different size tags take different amounts of sequences and spray cans. The police can't be harmed, so they'll always be there during the level. You must quickly get from one spot to another and spray paint it before the po-po can catch up to you and beat you down. This adds a wonderful element of strategy to the game. You'll have to plan your routes wise and decide which spots to tag before which police show up. The trick system isn't extremely in depth, but it's good enough for this type of game. A majority of your playtime isn't based around tricks, so they aren't really there for anything else besides the cool factor. You may use wall rides and other tricks to reach different parts of a level, but that's pretty much it. The level design is absolutely wonderful! Each of the three sections of the city is based off a real part of Tokyo. The Shibuya bus station is recreated in beautiful cel shading. You'll go everywhere from bustling downtown Shibuya, to the stinky sewers of Kogane. One of my favorite parts of the game is the character design. Jet Set Radio has some of the best characters ever to grace the gaming world. They all have a sort of cyber-raver-indie-skater look to them, and it works out wonderfully. The rival gangs also look really cool, and have their own crazy style to them. Your rival gang from Benten, the Noise Tanks, is a group nerdy computer hackers who dress up as robots and eat nothing but junk food. Poison Jam wears old horror movie costumes as they terrorize Kogane, and the lovesick girls of the Love Shockers try to take over your turf in Shibuya. There are graffiti souls to collect which are hidden in each area. There is a ton in all, and they can be pretty tough to locate. Every time you grab a new graffiti soul, you unlock a new piece of graffiti to use. Selecting your own graffiti is a nice little touch. You get to select a small, medium, and large piece of graffiti to use in the game when you're at the garage (a menu basically). There are over a hundred different pieces of graffiti to select, and most of them are really unique and look awesome. Most of the time, American gamers seem to get shafted. Japanese gamers often get cool features and limited edition games that don't make it to America. Instead, the American gamers get the best deal this time. For the US version, Sega has included a new area of the game based on New York City called Grind City. Even though Grind City only has a few levels, it's still really cool that the US got the best deal. Since there are US levels, it wouldn't be right to have Japanese music in them, so Sega got some American music for them!
The graphics are absolutely wonderful, and revolutionary. Jet Set Radio is a work of art, to say the very least. It is like a comic book come to life. The fresh style of the characters and the environment goes perfectly with the game. All of the environments and characters look beyond excellent. The game has some of the best graphics seen on the Dreamcast, or any other console out there. It creates an atmosphere that is so unique and refreshing that it can't be described in words alone. Perhaps now that cel-shading has become more mainstream and we went through a phase where just about every game for a period of five months seemed to use it, it might not be as cool to see as it was back when the game came out. Still to this day, you'll be hard pressed to find a game that can pull off this graphical technique as good as JSR. The hip urban feeling and atmosphere is something that I have never seen recreated in any game since Jet Set radio.
The music is some of the best ever featured in a game. The soundtrack has some of the best-licensed music ever found in any game. Some of the artists you'll hear include Jurassic-5, Rob Zombie, Deavid Soul, Toronto, Hideki Naganuma, Reps, Professional Murder Music, and Cold among others. With the combination of the music and the characters, you get a great urban atmosphere. Not only is this music great to listen to while you're playing, it's damn awesome music in general. This is one of the very few games that I would actually go out and buy the soundtrack for. Music is almost as important in Jet Set Radio as it is in DDR. Without it, it just wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. Sega really, really came through with selecting appropriate music for this game. It adds so much to the title. This is truly how game music should be done.
If you own a Dreamcast, this is a must have title. It's one of the best games to come out in the past five years, and one of the most original ever. There is no game like it out there. I can't think of a possible thing wrong with Jet Set Radio. It's challenging, engaging, graphically amazing, artistic, and has one of the most kick ass soundtracks ever assembled. If you don't own a Dreamcast, go out and buy one for this game. It's by far worth it. Every second you're without Jet Set Radio is a second that you're living an incomplete life.
Final Score: 100%
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 07/24/04
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