Jet Set Radio HD Review

By Melissa Evans on October 12, 2012

When Jet Set Radio was originally released on the Sega Dreamcast in 2000, (known as Jet Grind Radio in North America) sales were relatively low. However, that didn't stop it from gaining a strong cult following in the gaming community. This was further emphasised when Jet Set Radio Future was released for the original Xbox in 2002. For over 10 long years no other sequels or remakes of the games were released, but many fans still hoped that Jet Set Radio would be revived once again. Thankfully this past February Sega answered the fans prayers and released a teaser video for one of their planned Dreamcast re-releases titled, "Guess who's back." Hearing that familiar music was truly a sign that Jet Set Radio and all its nostalgic glory were coming back for modern consoles.

The game takes place in a town called Tokyo-to were people from different gangs go around the streets spraying graffiti (or tagging) and skating as a means of expressing themselves. The city is split up into three stages, Shibuya-cho, Benten-cho, and Kogane-cho. Each stage is expansive and pretty much everything you come across can be used to perform radical tricks.

As a whole, the game focus on skating and graffiti. Each of the characters has a different level of personality and this translates into their own brand of skating. In some cases this means characters are faster than others, while in other cases, it could make tagging easier or more challenging based on how long or short their graffiti skill meter is.

The levels consist of tagging various areas of the town all while revolting against an oddly devoted police force. The police use a variety of tactics to try and harm you such as teargas, helicopters, etc.

The gameplay as a whole is quite hit and miss for the most part. The game is extremely faithful to the original, as other then fixing the camera, Jet Set Radio plays just as before. At times you may feel like you aren't in complete control of your character, as it is easy to collide with landscapes on numerous occasions and the controls can feel quite loose. It becomes more of a problem when trying to track down the last few tags while time is running out and sometimes this does make the game feel like a lot of work. The game would have benefited from a little more precision, as the controls often prevent you from performing a series of jumps and grinds in a smooth and precise manner. Still, this is meant to be just an HD remake, and these things often aren't fixed. There are also long loading screens which make the game feel less smooth.

Other then the gameplay complaints, the HD resolutions really have improved Jet Set Radio artistically, making everything pop out at you. The scenery is defiantly more vibrant then ever. Its the style and art direction that really makes this game worth experiencing. The use of cel-shading technology still holds up today as this aspect feels quite at home with all the other artsy games of this era.

What really makes the game stand out though is the soundtrack, which pretty much immerses you into the game. Nearly every track that was in the original made it into the HD remake. The funky tracks really give the game a very profound and upbeat atmosphere that adds to the overall quality of the presentation. An interesting trick you can do if you have the music louder then the actual sound effects in the game - it feels like you're drowning out the world.

Once you finish the game's main story there is still plenty more to do to keep you busy. You can improve your ranking in each stage to unlock more characters, find all of the hidden graffiti soul icons giving you more tags to choose from, or create your very own custom graffiti tags to use in game.

Final Thoughts

Jet Set Radio defiantly has aged well visually and it is just as entertaining and fun as it was back in its Dreamcast days. It's a shame that mechanics weren't tuned enough to improve the gameplay though. Fans of the original, or those who just want to play an exciting and bright game for a change should absolutely download this classic.

Superb soundtrack
Plenty of extra content
Upbeat and vibrant visuals
Loose controls
Poor precision
At times feels more like work than a fun game
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