Time for a quick review of one of my favorite Dreamcast games… JET SET RADIOOOOOOOOOOOO
This game is Jet Set Radio, but it was released in North America as Jet Grind Radio because, I don’t know. But in later ports as a digital title (PS3, Vita, etc) it’s called Jet Set Radio everywhere, so there we go. I might call it one or the other, it really doesn’t matter.
I remember the Dreamcast magazine bringing up this title every issue leading up to its release, and the general theme in the preview articles was always “This looks awesome! …Man, what the hell is this?” It was a little unclear what kind of game it was, since it looked so different. It turned out that it’s a game where you roller-blade about various spots in Tokyo, making it a sort of action game that lets you grind on rails and do cool tricks. But to clear a level, you have to collect spray paint bottles and park yourself under floating red arrows that indicate where you need to tag some graffiti. When in spray painting mode, you simply follow a number of prompts on-screen with the analog stick.
What makes all of this more challenging are two things: 1) a time limit, and 2) the police. The authorities are pissed, and will come at you not only with guns a-blazing, but with tear gas teams, rocket-firing helicopters, full-blown tanks, the works. Japan takes its anti-graffiti laws very seriously, okay?
All in all Jet Grind Radio is a really fun, ridiculous game, with only minor control quibbles holding it back at times. From what I understand it was the first title to go all-out with the cel-shaded style (which fits the game perfectly), and its graphics still manage to hold up well today. Great presentation all around. But what stands out the most is the soundtrack. Definitely one of the most unusual and iconic soundtracks in the world of video gaming, with its quirky blend of J-pop, electric, and hip hop, courtesy of Hideki Naganuma, Deavid Soul, etc. Also guest starring the likes of Cold, Jurassic 5, and Rob Zombie for a couple levels, lol! I’ll be honest and say there are a few songs I don’t care for (there’s a couple in particular that are… really out there, pfffft), but for the most part I’ve had a blast with Jet Set Radio’s funky beats.
I feel like this game is really a bit of a history lesson at this point, like a sort of time capsule that shows what video gaming was like back in the year 2000. Big developers could be really creative and experimental with the titles they worked on, and games could on paper look really stupid but in execution still be cool and lots of fun. You know, when games didn’t need to be realistic, didn’t need to be anything at all like movies, and didn’t need to sell 10 million copies to be successful.
Anyways! If you’ve got yourself a Dreamcast, you should already have this game. If not… get on that, fool! If you don’t have a Dreamcast (you poor soul), you can pick this title up digitally for the PS3, Vita, Xbox 360, or Steam. It’s wacky! It’s cool! It’s a good influence for children! It’s a classic for the ages.