nekobun blog header photo
nekobun's c-blog
Fronts 19Posts 0Blogs 171Following 0Followers 30



It's Thinking: Could You Quit Playing With That Radio, Love?

In the not too distant future, the streets of Tokyo will be ruled by kids with rollerblades, forming gangs to find and fight over turf and marking their haunts with graffiti.

No, I'm not talking about Mark Ecko's Getting Up. No one is ever talking about Getting Up.

No, not Air Gear, either.

I'm talking about JET SET - JET SET - JET SET RADIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Or Jet Grind Radio, as they renamed it for the US.

Jet Grind Radio was a culmination of so many things you could do right in a video game, and yet, it didn't sell so well, even amongst Dreamcast diehards. Sure, it's got a cult following even now, but so do individual American Idol contestants, so that doesn't say much. How could you overlook all of this, though?

Graphics: For starters, JGR was the first 3D game to use full-on cel-shading as its visual mode of choice, which inspired a whole slew of games to follow suit, from Sonic Shuffle all the way up to more recent (and more appreciated) games like Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Crackdown. Complementary to the graphics engine was the art style itself; a cartoony, somewhat angular cast of characters managed to all be memorable beyond their mere stat differences. A player's choice of character reflected stylistic sense moreso than gameplay sense, in most cases.

Gameplay: Jet Grind kept things simple while giving players a whole lot to do. The control layout allowed for little more than movement, jumping, and spraying tags, but there was a fair amount of world to do all three of those in, never mind the sheer number of things a character could grind on to reach objectives and new areas. The game's core mechanics were all taught in media res, and paced so that players didn't feel rushed and forget things, but at the same time didn't feel like they were being dragged through overly long tutorials.


Primarily bulked up by the mix magic of Hideki Naganuma, the tunes in Jet Grind Radio did a great job of reflecting the whole "street vibe" of the game, with enough punk- and rock-centric tunes to avoid alienating those less inclined to hip-hop and DJ work. Granted, the bulk of the songs were by Japanese groups, so to make things even more accessible, some popular western (as in part of the world, not genre) artists were tacked on to the American release, but Just Got Wicked came up infrequently enough in the mix that it was easy to forget they were even there.

Story: While admittedly a fairly familiar tale of the outcast kid banding together with other outcast kids to Fight The Power, the tale of Jet Grind Radio was told just quirkily enough to make players care. Not only did the nefarious Rokkaku Group have the police in their pockets trying to stop you, said cops were actually commanded to shoot at you, going to such ridiculous lengths as employing tanks and gun-laden helicopters in their attempts to end your innocent, albeit vandalistic, life. Definitely a much harsher reaction to finding you in rollerblades than the one your parents had; namely, asking you if you were into dating members of the same gender. It was goofy, but goofy enough to make you want to know why Tokyo had turned out this way, and whether there was anything to be done about it.

Replay Value and Other Fine Things: Jet Grind Radio gave players plenty of things to find by going back through levels, such as new graffiti options scattered throughout every level for them to collect, new characters to find and unlock, including versions of the enemy gangs and even the game's boss, and internet capabilities that allowed the sharing of one's homebrewed graffiti tags and the import of image files for use as tags from various sources online. Granted, the whole Dreamcast/internet thing was a bit before its time, but it was a cute idea while it lasted.

On top of the Graffiti Soul album, each area had its own special challenge modes that unlocked toward the end of the game, allowing players to flex their tagging, skating, and other in-game skills, if for no other real reason than to show off to their friends.

Smilebit's Dreamcast opus is a unique piece of work, without being super-weird like Suda51's creations, and it's a shame JGR didn't get more acclaim when its home system really could have used a boost. If you have a Dreamcast, you've no real reason not to track this game down, and if you have an Xbox 360, the semi-sequel Jet Set Radio Future is backwards compatible, and still looks amazing and plays well despite having a fair amount of years on it. It's a shame Smilebit seems to have fallen by the wayside, or else I would have some hope of the franchise seeing a resurrection on this console generation or the next.

Tomorrow, if I have time before my friends and I party down, I aim to wax poetic about the Dreamcast's fighter-friendly nature, something that seems almost genetic for Sega's disc-based systems. See you there.

The Gum in that cosplay pic looks awfully familiar, and if it is who I think it is, I should probably feel a bit weirder about checking out my friend's girlfriend than I actually do.
#Community    #Retro   
Login to vote this up!


Alasdair Duncan   1



Please login (or) make a quick account (free)
to view and post comments.

 Login with Twitter

 Login with Dtoid

Three day old threads are only visible to verified humans - this helps our small community management team stay on top of spam

Sorry for the extra step!


About nekobunone of us since 5:17 PM on 06.29.2007

Hi, I'm Chris, though I've been going by nekobun and variants thereof for so long, I kind of answer to both anymore.

While I've kind of got my own thing going in the realm of indie coverage, at least in the form of playing through (and streaming) (and writing about) the huge backlog I'm developing of games gleaned from various indie bundles, I try to keep my more mainstream, game-related features here, as well as opinion pieces on the industry at large, out of mad love for the 'toid. When I'm not rambling here or trying to be clever in comments threads, you can catch me rambling on Facebook and my Twitter, and trying to be clever in the Dtoid.tv chat.

Now Playing:
360: Halo 4
PC: F.E.A.R.
SNES: Secret Of Mana

I suck at games: PEW PEW LASERS
Improving game communities: Collective consciousness
Nothing is sacred: These walls have torn my world apart
The wrong thing: Only cream and bastards catch them all.
Love/Hate: I love to hate -you-
Love/Hate: B(u)y the book
The Future: Is still what it used to be
My Expertise: Playing the race kart
Something about sex: Sex sells, but who's buying?
E3 Approaches: It's oh so quiet
Freedom: Together, we'll break the chains of HUDs
East vs West: We've got the empire
Handhelds: Graduating as 2000's Catchemaledictorian
Relaxation: Cheesy double Chief burrito
Online Passes: A spoonful of sugar
Peripherals: Many tentacles pimpin' on the keys
This is what MAGfest is all about
Beginnings: Put it on the pizza
Disappointment: Bad(vent) timing

Recap Topsauce:
It's Thinking: Could you quit playing with that radio, love?
Do the wrong thing: And do it right, for once.
Afraid to shoot strangers.
Not if you were the last junkie on Pandora
Is Jim Sterling servicing the video games industry?
Something About Sex: Unsafe at any speed.
Doing DLC right
Congress passes sweeping Elfcare reform bill
Bottom five healthcare systems in videogames.
Pushing my love over the quarter line.
When my life would depend on an eight point none.
Remember the heroes.
Every Journey begins with a single step.
It's all over now, bomber blue.
Being Social: We'll always have Rainbow Road
Labor Day: Of course you realize, this means wark.
Please, aim it higher.
There Would've Been Brawl: Show me 'round your eggplantcage.
Integration: A place for everything
Zelda Week: I guess this is growing up.
MAGfest: the (don't be an) idiot's guide
Promotions: The bees are alright
Now is the winter of on-disc content
This was supposed to be a dozen items about nekobun.
Without Slenderness, there's something missing.
Cheap tricks (and treats) don't come cheaper than free.
The legacy of the (unlikely) wizard.
Cheap Tricks II: Sugar rush boogaloo
Thank you, for bringing me here, for showing me Home.
Burnt flowers fallen: the tragic bitchotry of Lilly Caul
Red and blue, resolving into purple.
Xbox LIVE:nekobun
PSN ID:strictmachine
Steam ID:nekobun
Mii code:2610 8366 7890 1412


Around the Community