Whenever I jump on my bed with fervor (like I do most days), I peak under my TV and smile at my Dreamcast.
"Good afternoon Dreamcast. How are you?"
"Awesome, but then again you knew that."
This conversation has never taken place (outside my head) but nonetheless, it is an amazing system.
I've recently bought a Wii and I'm throughly enjoying it, and I love Nintendo, but I do not see myself falling for it like how I love love love the Dreamcast. Recently, I've been wondering why I love it so much. Besides a few fighting games and Typing of the Dead, I realized something strange.
"Hey, I rarely
play my Dreamcast!"
Then why the infatuation? Maybe its the accessories, such as the modems, the fishing pole, the microphone, the keyboard (hells yeah), the maracas, etc. Can't be, never played many games that used them. Maybe its the hardware, from controllers to the system itself, which I don't have to worry about breaking even ten year later. Probably not, though I do admire its craftsmanship. Maybe because its a little orphan bastard that was left out to die (I bought my Dreamcast a week before Sega announced they were discounting the system and games, actually great timing because most of the games went on sale very quickly). It cannot be that though, for I hate orphan bastards.
Don't get me wrong, I love the Dreamcast. Its games are great and beautiful. But now I can't spend five hours a day playing them. I have to separate the wheat from chaff in everything in my life, especially video games. Though I never have it in my mind to play it, I always drift towards the Dreamcast. Recently, when I found found myself needing a brief respite from spring cleaning, I was ensnared by its crimson spiral.
During a particularly fierce burst of feather dusting, my Dreamcast was gleaming and just asking to be played with. I decided to treat myself with a quick salvo of gameplay before I tackled the bathroom sink (ish kabibble), so I quickly thumbed through my games.
Street Fighter III? Maybe. Powerstone 2? Later perhaps. Typing of the Dead? For sure, but not now. Ah, here we go Jet Grind Radio aka Jet Grind RADIOOOOOOOOOOOO! But I just played this the other day. WELL SO WHAT! This game is so great that I can play it anytime, anywhere.
If I had to choose only one game to play the rest of my life, there is no choice. Its obviously going to be Jet Grind Radio. But lets break it down.
The story: Grab your crew and defend your turf! Armed with some high tech roller blades and a couple cans of spray paint, use your skills to take back what's rightfully yours (and maybe a lil bit more). A simple story told well through graphics, art direction, music, and of course Professor K, the ultimate radio pirate. Avoid the cops at first, then it delves into a mystery surrounding a record and a cooperation that wants to use it to summon demons to take over the world! Well, so much for a simple story. The dark twists (including murder) balance out well with colorful visuals.
The graphics: The revolutionary cel shading graphics still hold up. Its blocky and colorful nature invite the player in with a brazen vogue. "Yeah, we cool, let's roll." It was the first game to feature cel shading which was a direct influence in the creation of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker among several other games. Get em!
The Music: Hideki Naganuma has an amazing majority of tracks, plus sprinkle in Deavid Soul, Guitar Vader, Jurassic 5, F-Fields, Rob Zombie and Toronto among others make an eclectic soundtrack that seeps cool. My favorite song on the soundtrack as seen in the in-game radio
Gameplay: Tight controls that give your character accuracy and agility while feeling weight as you jump, grind, and spray your way through the levels. One reason I was so disappointed with the Xbox's Jet Set Radio was the spray paint mini game was gone. Though some argue it speed up the game, having to stop and spray as thugs with Molotov cocktails were chasing after you only added the thrill of running from the Man and made you feel more rebellious and free, the want to flee compounded with the need to finish a job. This game also delivers several David beating Goliath moments the game delivers. Grinding a helicopter, tagging its windshield, and watching it crash and burn is one of the most satisfying moments but definitely not the only one. And how entertaining to hear the characters say "yeah," "sweet" and "uh-huh" as you grind, flip, and wall jump on and on.
This is what I'm talking about. Please note the amazing shadowing.
Design: Each level has a different look that informs the characters (the grunge and shadows of Kogane-cho perfectly suits Poison Jam, the lights and and sound of Benton bleed into the Noise Tanks, etc.) and makes the areas memorable as well as a joy to play. Each character plays differently and no two people have similar styles nor wardrobes, providing a character for you no matter what your taste. Myself, I prefer Tab because of his easier graffiti combo and his spectacularly simplistic blue jumper. Even the baddies have unique designs, from electric powered suits to turbans and whips to long trench coats and longer gun barrels. Right On!
Game Modes: In addition to Story mode, you can unlock Jet Crush (a race mode), Jet Graffiti (Straight up graffiti action), and Jet Technique (earn points for a high score). If thats not enough, you can listen to the jukebox, look for Grafitti Souls, make your own graffiti, or back in the day jump on the internet, upload and download user created graffiti and compare high scores. Ba-Bam!
Upon hearing Dreamcast games will hit PSN and XBLA, Jet Grind Radio is an obvious choice. This game is the reason I the Dreamcast is always hooked up to my TV, just in case.
Now, which character to use today....
GG on the Go by *eisu
ps if anyone wants to help me unlock Potts, let me know.
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