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Jet Set Radio preview

When you think about games that defined the Sega Dreamcast, what’s the first game that pops into your head?  Though the answer may be different for everyone, a lot of you might be saying Jet Grind Radio — and for good reason.  This skateboarding/graffiti/free-roaming game was absolutely brilliant for its time, featuring an innovative cel shading engine, preposterously good skating fun, and a soundtrack that made you get down with your bad self.  Thankfully, Sega is bringing most of this back for this generation of gaming, as Jet Set Radio (the game’s original title) is ready to grind its way onto Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network this summer.  The company recently invited us down to its digital day event to give it a spin.

jet set radio psn xbox live

The game gives you control of a colorful street gang as they work through the Shibuya-Cho district (before moving on to Benten-cho and Kogane-cho), fighting rival gangs and leaving their mark on buses, walls and other “hot spots”.  It’s all done in a fun way, rather than one of malice.  Too bad the police force doesn’t get that, as they continuously stay in pursuit of you, forcing you to creatively evade them while performing tricks and spraying objectives throughout the game.

You’ll be happy to know that nothing has changed with the graphics in Jet Set Radio.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  The game does have a high-definition polish so that it looks awesome on contemporary TVs.  Everything else — the striking animation, the attractive backdrops, the steady frame rate — remains perfectly intact.  You’ll cruise around Shibuya-Cho’s stages, linking together tricks and performing quick motions to execute your best paint jobs.  Oh, and we should mention that you can now use the right analog stick to control the camera, which is ideal for watching the cops that are on your tail.

Word of warning — the soundtrack is somewhat changed.  It's not completely changed like Crazy Taxi’s, thank goodness, but you won’t get all the tracks that you were expecting in the original game.  The original Jet Set Radio music, programmed for the game, is still intact, along with tracks like Guitar Vader’s “Magical Girl” and B.B. Rights’ “Funky Radio."  However, Sega wasn’t able to obtain rights to some of the songs, since they’ve either disbanded or given the rights to someone else.  Don’t worry, though.  Sega knows fans want a good soundtrack, and they’re still getting one.

As for the gameplay, well, it’s Jet Set Radio through and through.  We were able to link together several grinds while picking up paint cans and going crazy with jumps with hardly any difficulty whatsoever.  You can even boost up your skating skills if you need to make a quick getaway (from the cop chasing you with a gun, especially) and turn on a dime, even at high speeds.  What’s more, the game should incorporate the awesome graffiti system as the original game, though the possibility of sharing your creations with friends online isn’t looking likely.  Oh well.

jet set radio psn xbox live

Kudos to Sega for not only showing us Jet Set Radio, but also giving us a casual little cocktail mixer to mark the game’s release.  Works great for the bar, methinks.  The team has done a great job redefining this classic for the modern gaming scene, even with changes to the soundtrack, and we can’t wait to get into the grind this summer.  “Jet Set Radioooooo!” 

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Robert Workman
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