Jet Set Radio is a unique graffiti game developed by the Sega studio Smilebit. It was initially released for the Dreamcast and a high-definition remake by BlitWorks was later released for Android, iOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows, and Xbox 360.
The game puts you in the shoes of Beat, the leader of a youth gang known as the GGs. They tag the streets of Tokyo-to, a city plagued by a corrupt police force. The youth gangs are known as the Rudies, who get information about police and Rudie activity from a DJ known as Professor K, who runs a pirate radio station known as Jet Set Radio.
The goal is to spray the graffiti indicated by arrows before time runs out while grinding on rails to gain speed and then jumping up onto higher platforms. Sometimes there are large areas that need graffiti, which is accomplished by spraying while using the thumbstick to follow the arrow prompts. There are also spray cans littered around the levels. Some add one can, some fill up the spray meter, and some refill life.
The game included the ability to draw your own graffiti, which could then be selected to be played in the game. On the original Dreamcast version, graffiti designs could be freely downloaded from the internet and then that downloadable content could also be used in-game.
There are also sections where you need to copy tricks by another Rudie. If you copy all of the tricks successfully, you will get another member of your gang. These characters can then be selected to play. Each has a different level of health and maximum amounts of spray cans that can be carried, so it is a matter of preference in which one will be played.
In most stages, another goal is to avoid the police, who will hang onto you, slow you down, and drain your life meter. Some stages will include the corrupt chief of police, who will shoot at you with his gun. There are also boss battles where you need to spray the backs of rival gang members, and a final boss battle with a mind-controlling supervillain.
The graphics are cell-shaded to appear like a cartoon, which is an effect that was highly regarded at the time, and still looks good today, especially in the high-definition version. The music is comprised of fun tunes in a variety of electronic music styles from chiefly Japanese artists.
The North American Dreamcast version, Jet Grind Radio, added two more Rudies, two levels in a new city named Grind City which are playable in flashbacks, and music by Rob Zombie. The changes were then incorporated into a new Japanese release titled De La Jet Set Radio. This version also included an unlockable secret character. The high-definition version included all of the content from De La Jet Set Radio, including all of the licensed songs.
Jet Set Radio is a fantastic game that blends together action, sports, platforming, and graffiti-spraying game styles and different electronic music genres into a game that is fun and very unique. It popularized the cel-shading cartoon graphic technique and still looks great today. The De La Jet Set Radio release in Japan for the Dreamcast was the most complete version, and luckily that is the version that is used for the high-definition version. I highly recommend trying this game, as it is one of the best video games ever released.
5 out of 5