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Jet Set Radio


cicinski
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My introduction to the Jet Set radio series was the semi-sequel "Jet Set Radio Future" on the XBOX.

Since I reintroduced myself to the world of Dreamcast gaming it has given me a chance to play some truly amazing games (even if their impact's have become more muted over time) and I felt it was only right for me to play the game whose sequel was responsible for me importing a Controller S back in 2002 just so I could physically play the game. It was also the game which started the cell shading revolution, and weather you respect or detest it for it you have to admit it was a brave move for Sega to take in a world where DC user support was fairly low at the best of times.

Going back to previous titles within the same console generation is something I do quite regulary (with Sonic 1 to Sonic and Knuckles on the MD and FFVII thru to FFIX) but even tho the Dreamcast is an 128bit console it was never allowed the honour of being able to join the ranks with the current big three, and as such these games are now put under the term of "Retro"and that is an unfair heading to put the DC and its range of games under. What JSR offers us is cell shading in its infantcy, and a Jet Set experience at its most harsh and un-refined. While Jet Set Radio Future offered a fairly easy (yet enjoyable) range of thrills, the original is a difficult, furious game with a more of an arcade slant placed on the gameplay.

Gameplay:

While many considered Future to be a "dumbing down of a niche title"in its defence it is a well put together game that balances the need for urgency with action. The original title tho verges on the unbalanced side. In playing it I found myself beginning to tire of the consistant objectives. In terms of gameplay the title does keep drawing you back, but in my experience for all the wrong reasons. I was compelled to play just to get past the section I was on not for personal pleasure but just to teach the dam thing a lesson. You are placed in a number of frustrating situations and locales. On many occassions you will find yourself creeping around, spray painting a wall and then having to flee to a safe are because you have been discovered by the Columbo-esque gun totting police cheif and his army of officers. At some points, while you are still getting to grips with the gameplay, the game sinks into no more than a hide and seek, Simon Says game.

While my comments my sound negative it remains that the game has a charm there that compells you to come back for more but something that really did become a hinderance was the controlls. While movement and action commands feel fluid undertaking accurate and tricky jumps cn become a problem because at high speeds the game works fine, but when things slow down the characters take on a more twitchy tendency

Graphics:

Truely mind boggling!

The way the cities and locations are created is beyond me. They just feel so co-herent and natural in both structure and layout. Jet Set Radio introduced the technique of cell-shading to us, and a large number of two-bit developers who had 'jumped on the band wagon' with no just cause. The game is still a spectical to behold and much like the 2D exploits of Sonic, Mario and Zelda in the 16bit era, it retains a charm and look that means it has aged well in comparsion with the more traditional 3D polygon titles.

The character design is perhaps the second greatest achievement of the game, behind the cell shading. Sega's Smilebit have really captured a sense of living grafetti in the art and character models. They all, NPC included, have an individual look that many developers have failed to grasp. From the 'scratchy' outlining on the art to the fluid cartoon-esque 3D models this is a true sight for sore eyes.

Music:

Another success in the game is the music. The music and the way it has been integrated into the gameplay to create an intense feeling of atmosphere is a definate bench mark in how to produce an excellent soundtrack. And that is exactly what it is, the music is the soundtrack unlike many titles where music is a mere backing accompaniment. The varied and expertly produced tunes in JSR add so much to the overall package. The voice acting is also impressive and is the icing on the auido cake.

Closing Comments:

While there is no denying that JSR's content and ethos is both original in exicution and engaging it sometimes suffers under the weight of the sheer style. At times the game falls into repetitive mundane gameplay while at other times the thrill of seeing a cut scene or undertaking an impressive array of tricks can up your enjoyment and view of the game in a big way. In retrospect it is easy to say JSR was never a classic. The game is a classic, tho, in terms of presentation and as an overall package. It does so much right and it is the classic gaming of yester-year re-encarnated in true next generation beauty.

Since its release back in 2000 a large number of games have used the cell shading technique, but two games have turned what JSR started and turned cell shading into an art form. These games are of couse JSR's sequel Jet Set Radio Future and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.

The sad fact is, is that JSR will be remembered as the game that started cell shading, the fact remains tho that when viewed from a pruely gameplay perspective it has nothing above 'very good' and that isn't always enough especially now for it to be considered a classic.

In conclusion it is a perfectly solid game wrapped in an amazing package which does itself no favours by being so dam swish, in that it has no hope of offering an experience to much it's style. It is still a whole lot more engaging than 90% of the games available at the moment.

It is a successful excercise in style over substance but it is an undiniablly impressive package and now that it can be picked up for as little as £5 there is no excuse.

SCORES:

GAMEPLAY: 6

MUSIC: 9

GRAPHICS: 8

OVERALL: 7

(in no way an average)

I don't like giving scores but I have to say that a 6, for example doesn't mean 60%.

1: Disgusting, Unplayable

2: Playable but to the point of desperation

3: This game will stand up against the best 3DO titles in terms of quality, not good!

4: Below Average

5: So Average

6: A Solid title, with a few nice parts

7: A well put together title that will keep you engaged and playing

8: Very Good

9: Amazing, a definate buy

10: AMAZING, UNPARTABLE, UNSPEAKABLE QUALITY, A GAME THAT YOU WOULDN'T STOP PLAYING AFTER ONE RUN THRU. A TOTAL CLASSIC

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  • 3 months later...
but the controls let it down in a big way.

there are minor control issues.

notably, L being for both the camera and the graffiti.

but this certainly doesnt detract from the overall quality of the game significantly, and lends the game an intuitive, natural feel.

Persivere beyond that initial hurdle fearbat (aim for a Jet on the first level - I did this on the ODM demo before getting the game) and you will be rewarded with one of the very finest gaming experiences out there.

Look out for my review of the game some time soon :(

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It's one of the best games I've ever played, and the reason I bought a DC.

I find it's just right at the end it suddenly becomes tiresome, but early on the feeling of running around spraying things is too much fun. (Rather like Sunshine really).

Best graphical style revolution ever too.

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I luuurve Jet Set Radio! Picked it up last year, and I still find myself unable to tear myself away whenever I stick it on for a session. I agree it can be ultra-frustrating at times, but it really does have that just-one-more-go factor. Absolutely love the style, the music, and the graphics.

In comparison, I recently acquired JSRF for the Xbox. I fired it up out of curiosity, and my immediate reaction was one of disappointment. I felt like the soul had gone out of the game somehow. I will still play it through, once I've finished JSR, and I'll probably get over my first impressions, but I still feel the DC version is superior somehow.

(Oh, and any game with a tutorial as retarded as to tell me to 'Jump 3 times!!' deserves a smack upside the head.)

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Good review. One of my very favourite games ever. It also got me into hip-hop! Pistol: JSRF isn't as good, but it's still a brilliant game. Some of the level design later on is fantastic - so keep playing!

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