Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360 and PC
Release Date: US – September 18th, EU – September 19th (PS Vita – November 20th US and 21st EU)
If you bought Jet Set Radio and had to review it then you’d probably end up doing exactly what I’m doing right now. I’m currently sat here listening to the soundtrack, writing these words and wanting to get back as quickly as possible to collect every graffiti soul the game has left.
From Sneakman to Rock It On, Sweet Soul Brother and Let Mom Sleep the soundtrack is still to this day one of the best in gaming history and compliments the game superbly. Wait a second, did I just say ‘game’? Yes that’s right Jet Set Radio HD is the remake of the original Jet Set Radio which was released on Sega’s Dreamcast console twelve years ago.
During it’s release was a time when the games industry was just getting to grips with 3D graphics and utilising the power of the Dreamcast to create ultra-realistic worlds for us to explore. The original creators of JSR, SEGA’s renamed AM6 studio Smilebit, decided to go the other way and show us something that hadn’t been done before, cel-shaded graphics.
At a basic level Jet Set Radio is an arcade style beat the timer game. You control a member of the GG’s who love using inline skates to roll around and graffiti the local area to mark their territory in a place called Tokyo-To. The goal is to make your graffiti mark on all possible spots in the area before time runs out. But before too long you’ll be chased by police at various levels, ranging from your average foot soldiers to helicopters and tanks in later stages.
Jet Set Radio brings back the arcade style that a lot of games had back in the 90s and early 00s. Your main enemy was the time limit and doing things as quickly as possible while looking awesome was the goal. It’s makes a nice change from today’s quick fix iPhone games and first-person shooters that dominate the gaming landscape in these current climates.
It’s difficult to put into words just what exactly Jet Set Radio brings to the table though as so much of the games charm, wit and vibrant personality is more to do with how everything works so well together rather than individual formulas.
Jet Set Radio HD is the first in the new ‘SEGA Heritage’ collection. A mark of approval it seems from the fallen giants to try and look towards an extensive back catalogue for more income. Thankfully though it hasn’t just meant a quick buck for SEGA but some time and effort has gone into this fine remake. Not only does the high definition increase the attitude of the graphics but we’ve been given a documentary around the game’s origins and unlockable tracks from the sequel Jet Set Radio Future.
There’s even some customisation in the game, while it’s not as great as it could have been the create-a-graffitti mode is still intact for the remake. While it is very limited compared to modern create modes, I still had fun and even created a Casually Addicted logo, although my artistic talents aren’t grand enough for me to show you how that turned out. I would’ve loved to have seen an extension of this mode into the online space in a similar way to Forza. Seeing what others could have done with the graffiti creation feels like a bit of a missed opportunity and would have added to the experience.
But it’s not all fun and games, Jet Set Radio takes a couple of bruises during it’s update but not many. While the HD graphics add a lovely tone to it’s look some of the transition parts of the stages look horrible. These are sections that you will only briefly see for a few seconds when transferring between the larger gameplay sections but they stick out like a sore thumb.
More of a concern for me though was some slowdown during later levels. The larger the area the more problem you’ll have, Benton-cho especially slowed to a crawl for a recurring 2/3 seconds during my opening minute on the stage but quickly returned to normal for the rest of my run.
Gamers not used to playing before the introduction of two sticks may also find the camera a bit fiddly to deal with too. While the camera is indeed mapped to the right analogue stick it has a tendency to still get stuck in small areas above your character – a problem that was down to the Dreamcast only having one stick.
But it won’t ruin your enjoyment as much as having the L2 and LT button controlling both camera centre and spray paint. This is especially annoying during sections where you have to spray paint a moving object. It’s something that plagued the original but could have been easily fixed here by moving the camera centre to a different button, which wouldn’t have been difficult considering the amount of buttons left free by the games simple control scheme.
If your looking for a challenge as well then you’ve found the right game. Jet Set Radio’s unforgiving difficulty can be unnervy at times and getting the Jet rating won’t be easy.
Despite some minor annoyances Jet Set Radio doesn’t feel old or unplayable in the slightest. I have to admit I was worried that my nostalgia may have clouded my judgement, luckily enough though it didn’t. This is still a fantastic game and after finally collecting all the graffiti souls I’ll be eagerly awaiting the remake for Jet Set Radio Future.
The Vita version looks as lovely, if not better than it’s HD TV counterpart. Unfortunately there’s no cross buy so you’ll have to buy both versions and no cross save feature. There’s also some sound issues during the initial tutorial with music cutting out for split seconds here and there, but in general the game is up to par with what you’ll find on the console versions.
[wpspoiler name="Achievement/Trophy Overview" style="wpui-green"]
This one is a little bit interesting as the Achievement and Trophy lists are very different. While Xbox players have 30 achievement’s to keep them occupied the PS3 version only gets 9 trophies. Something to do with Microsoft recently upping the gamerscore limit on Xbox Live games? We’re not sure.
Either way this game won’t be easy to get 100% in. For both sides will need to complete the entire campaign with a Jet rating to unlock all characters.
The Xbox version has an added difficulty spike with an achievement being awarded for going through the whole game without being grabbed by the police. An almost impossible achievement to get – are you up to it?