JET SET RADIO REVIEW
Can this HD release live up to memories of the original?
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Jan 18, 2013 13:58 (Jan 18, 2013 13:58)
Written by: Alex
Jet. Set. Radio!
Were you to ask me which Dreamcast game I wanted back in HD, "Jet Set Radio" would have been at the top of my list.
When the game originally released in 2000, it was a high watermark graphics, with a beautifully cell-shaded world and smooth animation. Add to that a sound track that still has me tapping my feet, and the mix was enough to secure the game a place in my heart to this day.
But in 2013, has gaming moved on?
A simple tale of gang wars and police brutality provides the setting for Jet Set Radio, don't worry it’s not as serious as it sounds. Set on the streets of Tokyo-To, the city is divided into three districts, Shibuya-cho, Benten-cho, and Kogane-cho, and a different skater gang controlling each. The police want to regain control of the city however, and lead by Captain Onishima they will stop at nothing to do so.
Starting as Beat, you must first form your own crew of inline-skaters/graffiti-artists, the GGs, to enter the artistic gang war. Recruiting members act as tutorials, ensuring you have the necessary skills before for the coming levels. Once acquired, each member can be taken into action in any of Tokyo-To’s three districts. With a crew and the necessary skills, it is time to hit the streets to do a bit of tagging.
Jet Set Radio is an odd beast. While it may look like an x-tream sports game, it actually has more in common with a puzzle.
The goal of each stage is to paint over all of your opponent gang’s tags, or for boss fights actually tag the other gang. But it isn’t a case of just hunting the map, avoiding obstacles and finding a path through the world, the real trick is the order. Some tags take more time, and spray cans (the Jet Set Radio’s ‘ammo’), to cover. If these are left to the end, when the police action is at its peak, it will become impossible to paint as the spray animation is constantly interrupted. Thus, like a puzzle, the later levels need to be played several times to work out the best order to approach them.
This is an interesting twist on what is, mechanically, an action game. Unfortunately the gameplay and camera are the one element of Jet Set Radio that feels stuck in 2000. Responses to button presses feel sluggish and locking onto grind rails is overly tricky, and inconsistent. More problematically, the camera control often seems to actively work against you, especially in boss battles, as the perspective is forced into walls and above the character. Even in this update, that has camera control on the second stick, it is still frustrating and more difficult than it need be. It is an interesting reminder of how far gaming has come in the last thirteen years, but no less frustrating.