Jet Grind Radio
Developed By: Smilebit
Published By: SEGA
Description: Jet Grind Radio is a unique blend of a super-simplified rollerblading simulation, a futuristic world, and graffiti.
Jet Grind Radio (released as Jet Set Radio in Japan) is one of the most original, distinctive-looking, and fun games to come along in a while. In the futuristic city of Tokyo-to, street gangs known as Ruders mark their territories with graffiti, and use superfast inline skates to run away from the horribly repressive cops.
The look is marvelous - it was one of the first games to use the cel-shading technique to make polygonal figures look like they were hand animated, and it works very well. Combined with the superb character and level design, and you've got a game that you just can't look away from.
The second aspect of the game is the gameplay. You'll have a series of missions to carry out in the various burbs of Tokyo-to; each one involves tagging certain areas with graffiti and skating like crazy to get away from the cops when they show up. The skating aspect of the game is marvelously simplified but still gives you the feeling that you are doing the tricks, not your character. When you tag graffiti, the game gives you fluid moves that you must match with the analog stick of your Dreamcast controller; doing so eventually paints the graffiti onto the surface.
Between missions, you may be challenged by potential gang members. Completing their fun but usually difficult challenges causes your gang to grow, and since gang members have different stats, having more members makes missions easier to complete.
Late in the game, you'll discover why the cops have been pulling out all the stops to catch the Ruders (using tanks and helicopters at points!) and it's up to you to put an end to an evil conglomerate that wants to enslave everyone in Tokyo-to.
My Opinion: A fantastic game, with only a few flaws. I have a personal gripe about the control scheme. Despite the fact that there are only four controls used in the game - tag, center camera, jump, and dash - Smilebit inexplicably decided to put both the tag and the center camera controls on the same button, and the controls cannot be customized. Late in the game you'll be asked to tag LOTS of moving objects, and having the tag and the center camera controls both on the left trigger ensures that if you miss the tag, you'll end up facing the wrong way and swearing profusely. I haven't let this annoyance prevent me from playing the game all the way through twice, however.
Notes: This version is an expanded version of Jet Set Radio. It includes two new levels (Bantam Street and Grind Square, both set in America) that weren't in Jet Set Radio, and includes a few new tracks from American artists like Cold, Mix Master Mike, Rob Zombie, and Jurassic 5. The two new levels are actually incorporated into the storyline, which was expanded from the Japanese version. In general, the new levels are hard but good, and are worthy additions to the game.
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