Wednesday, September 26, 2012

S&S Review: Jet Set Radio

Title: Jet Set Radio
Format: PSN, XBLA, PC
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Smilebit
Price: $9.99
ESRB Rating: E

When Jet Set Radio was first released, I never bought the game, but I was really interested in it.  Now, more than a decade later, I finally got another shot with the game.  

Presentation and Story:
When the game first came out, everybody used the word art when it came to describing how the game looks.  With the new HD re-release, the game brings its ostentatious art style into a new light.  This game really brought the neo-punk style and just ran with it, you can't mention Jet Set Radio without mentioning its cool stylized city and characters.  Even with the HD modernization of the game, you'll come across random things or people that will show the game's true age.  When you skating through the city, a random blocky texture or a blank gap in the city will take you out of the experience, but only for a moment.  The cel-shaded graphics really saved the game's presentation, allowing a bit more flexibility when judging its visuals.  The awesome soundtrack is another stand-out of the game, the endless music continuously pounds and gives pleasure to your ears.  Some tracks can drag on, leaving you wondering when the next song will play.  All of the magic centers around Tokyo-to, a bustling city that obviously resembles Tokyo.  Your gang, the GG's love to skate and express themselves by tagging basically every thing they want.  Their rivals, the Love Shockers, had sprayed their neighborhood with their own tags, sparking a huge feud between the two.  This sparks the GG's to reclaim their territory, while another secret plot is going on while all this is happening.  Its a pretty cool narrative, but don't go in expecting a complex narrative with tons of layers to pull back.  
Core Gameplay:
If you haven't played the original game on the Dreamcast, the game is a 3D platformer.  You play as one of several members of the GG's as you rollerblade around this sort of metropolis and open area.  You'll be jumping and grinding your way around the city and tagging key areas with your graffiti, while dodging the fuzz.  This is basically the gist of the game, allowing a lot of freedom throughout your traversals.  The controls don't really do the game any favors, they were pretty sluggish at first, but it slowly becomes decent enough to not get in the way of your enjoyment.  While time is running down, and you're trying to get to one area you need to tag, the controls proved to be sufficient.  They aren't the most precise controls out there but it definitely gives you enough to pull off grinds and get around the city without making toss the controller away in agony.  Fans of the original game will come to love these mechanics, but for newcomers, it might actually turn people off.  The constant decreasing time adds a sense of urgency to the game, which will instantly make people turn the other way. 
Final Thoughts:
Jet Set Radio is an homage to the original and to fans of the originals.  It gives everything fans wanted, giving the game the HD makeover it deserved and being able to play the game without having to boot up their Dreamcast.  If you're looking to playthrough the game again, look no further.

S&S Rating: 7.75/10
@whatsPlay

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