Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Review A Great Game Day - Jet Set Radio

Review A Great Game Day is an event where many bloggers celebrate their gaming passions by reviewing a great game.
As this is my first year participating in the event I’m going to be reviewing an old favourite: Jet Set Radio on the Dreamcast. For the purposes of this review I replayed the game using the recent HD re-release on PC.
You can check out the event as well as other reviews at http://reviewagreatgameday.com/

Jet Set Radio is a 1st party Sega game in a time where the company was being creative and making a lot of new and original games. The visuals are stunning, the gameplay is addictive and the music is insanely superb.

Set in the mythical city of Tokyoto, you play as a skater gang known as the GGs.
It’s your mission to defend your Shibuya-Cho home turf, as well as conquering new turf from rival gangs and the police.

You skate around using the analog stick and dash using the right trigger, jump on to rails to grind along them, jump towards walls to perform a wall slide and spray graffiti at marked spots using the right trigger.
For some graffiti spots you only have to pass by and can tag them as you pass by but larger pieces of graffiti require that you stop and perform some timed analogue stick movements.

Initially, the controls make the game seem easy to pick up and play, however on replaying the game I found this to not be the case. While the controls may seem simple enough I found the handling of the characters to be very difficult when I first started playing.
The jumping is a bit floaty and difficult to time at first and moving about in the air is sluggish on the bottom end and lightning quick on the top end.

As difficult as the game first seems the main idea of it is to learn the terrain, where the tags could be and figure the best way of getting around.
In one of the first areas I kept getting stuck trying to get over to one tag. It seemed at first that you had to grind along a crane to cross the gap but I discovered that you can also do a wall slide to get across too.

Once you've played the game for a bit and start to master the handling of the characters, the game really opens up.
You start unlocking new characters, visiting new locations and discovering new graffiti types.
Each new character you unlock has their own unique style, handling and graffiti maneuvers to try out.
To unlock a character you need to complete challenges so they can join your gang. This not only teaches you new ways to get around certain levels but also helps you to get a better handle on moving around the levels.

The main bulk of the game is set into missions and each mission puts you in an area and asks you to accomplish a goal within a set time limit.
A typical mission will require you to navigate the terrain to cover up another gang's graffiti with your own. You'll need to avoid the police in certain areas and after you've covered up some of the tags the police might call in reinforcements and special police units.
It's fun when you've got the police on your tail and you need to stop to tag some graffiti. You'll mostly want to lose the police before you tag a large piece of graffiti but it's possible to get ahead of them enough to accomplish your goal.
This should lead you to the realisation that you may want to address the more difficult pieces of graffiti before the police call in their reinforcements.

Police reinforcements can vary in type: there’s the swat style reinforcements who deploy tear gas, there are electricity reinforcements who electrify rails, and helicopters that fire missiles to try and take you down.
Mostly these can be avoided or quelched. You can even take down helicopters my skating past them and spraying a tag on the windscreen -priceless.

There are other types of missions too. For instance you get to chase down rival gang members and spray graffiti on their backs to protect your territory.

The graphics are cel-shaded, in fact it was one of the first popular uses of cel-shading and many other games followed suit. There’s a reason for this - the game is vibrantly coloured, wonderfully styled and is just down right beautiful to look at.
The character designs are different and wacky - which is nice to see. You’ll quickly find your favourites.

The music is one of the best parts of the game. It’s very unique. The selection of songs is very eclectic and yet somehow manages to all fit together perfectly.
My personal favourites are Magical Girl and Let Mom Sleep.

Jet Set Radio is one of my favourite games on the Dreamcast. It’s bold, fresh, and challenging despite the fact that it was originally released in 2000.
That’s 15 years ago this year! Now I feel old.
In my opinion it’s a game that stands up even today. It truly is a great game.

2 comments:

  1. I missed out on the Dreamcast craze. I need to catch. I like how you pointed out that this is one of the first popular uses of cel shading. I never thought of that. Good review, yo!

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