Jet Set Radio HD 360 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
Jet Set Radio HD
Reviewed by
Sean Warhurst
on
Jet Set Radio HD 360 Review. Despite the flaws with the control system and camera, I couldn’t put Jet Set Radio down and finished it within three days of sporadic gaming sessions, totalling just under six hours.
Rating:
4.0

Gameplay 7.5
Graphics 9.0
Sound 9.0
Value 8.0
Publisher: SEGA
Developer
: Smilebit (Ported by Blit Software)
Rating: G
Review Date: Oct 2012
Reviewer:
Sean Warhurst

8.0


Jet Set Radio HD

Coming off as an amalgamation of ‘Marc Eckō's Getting Up’ and ‘Aggressive Inline’, despite preceding both of those games, Jet Set Radio is a surreal beast. I was never fortunate enough to have played it during its original Dreamcast release, so I came to the game with entirely fresh eyes.

Of course it’s ridiculous to expect a game that uses an anachronistic engine to be comparable in terms of technical aspects to current standards, but it must be said that Jet Set Radio holds up rather well. I don’t know if it’s just the giddy atmosphere and hyperkinetic visuals, but each time I picked up the controller, I found myself grinning from ear to ear as I sped around Tokyo-To, avoiding Riot Police and chucking up pieces with my spray can to the boppy, underground electronic music.

The game can be pretty much boiled down to those three aspects: Rollerblading, Spray painting and avoiding authority, with a rather loose story providing a framework to tie all of these elements together. Tokyo-To consists of three areas, each with their own unique visual styles. Initially you’ll be confined to a small section, but as you progress you’ll have access to an entire area of the city, using interconnected tunnels and passageways to get around (And mask loading times).

 

Gameplay is pretty much composed of skating around these areas and hitting up marked sections with your ‘tags’; this is achieved by collecting spray cans and using the analogue stick to perform on-screen prompts. In order to receive the highest ranking for a level, you’re required to memorise the best order in which to spray different areas, as the more you tag in a level, the more obstacles are added to disrupt your process, such as the police calling in attack dogs, helicopters and tear gas. 

Jet Set radio has a gentle learning curve and simplistic controls, so it’s easy to pick up but takes dedication to master.

The controls are also an area where some of the cracks start to show; at its heart, Jet Set Radio is a platformer, and many of the ubiquitous issues associated with the genre raise their ugly heads. The shiny graphical overhaul doesn’t disguise the fact that you’re playing a game engine that’s over twelve years old, with issues with the physics and controller precision making the game much more frustrating than it should be.

For example, attempting a jump from grinding one rail to another, you may sometimes perform the task perfectly, whilst another time the exact same button input will jettison your character across the screen.  Collision detection is also slightly off, so sometimes you’ll get snagged on the scenery and come to a complete stop. For a game built around maintaining momentum to reach some of later areas, this can get extremely tiresome and really dampen your enjoyment of the game.

 

The much maligned camera system is now controlled by the user, but this fails to alleviate certain issues. The most prominent is the fact that the ‘realign camera’ button is also the button used to tag, so if you’re hitting a series of tags in quick succession, you mash the left trigger, which sends the camera into a tizzy, effectively disorienting the player.

The game has a nice selection of achievements, thirty for a total of 400 GS, and leaderboards are also included for online play. 

Graphics/Audio

The first thing you’ll notice about Jet Set Radio’s graphics is how dazzlingly bright and crisp they are. Sega’s high definition overhaul of the graphics is nothing short of superb – The game practically makes sweet, sweet love to your eyes. Due to its pioneering use of cel shaded graphics, the graphics have aged astoundingly well. Jet Set Radio was always more focused on creating a unique aesthetic rather than trying to replicate reality and this lends the visuals a certain ageless quality many other games from the same era would struggle to have. Even when held up against more recent cel shaded games, the exuberant presentation of the graffiti influenced visuals lends the game a unique quality that makes it stand head and shoulders above other games.

The real highlight of the game though is the brilliant soundtrack. As someone who generally has no time for anything outside of the Rock and Metal genres, I found myself bopping about the house singing many of the catchy tunes from the game and having to sheepishly pull myself up, lest my ‘Metal-Head’ credibility be tarnished. Despite being predominately electronic, the music covers a wide spectrum of styles, with chirpy J-Pop, rocking guitars and rap being encompassed. A varied selection of artists such as Rob zombie, Mixmaster Mike, Jurassic 5 and more ensure that people aren’t put off by the more esoteric foreign tunes.

Final Level

Despite the flaws with the control system and camera, I couldn’t put Jet Set Radio down and finished it within three days of sporadic gaming sessions, totalling just under six hours. Once the main storyline is completed, there are races, stages where you tag enemy gang members, a myriad of characters to unlock and the challenge of receiving the best ranking for each level to prolong the experience. Unfortunately, to achieve the latter you have to replay through the entire game as there is no retry level option, which is rather strange.

Free of nostalgia blinkers, Jet Set Radio is a good game but certain aspects haven’t aged as well as the graphical style. It can be an extremely difficult experience when hampered by the control issues, and some occasions of frustrating level design, plus a distinct lack of gameplay variety, can drive you to pull your hair out.  That being said, it’s also extremely fun, addictive and stylish as all heck, and I for one am willing to take a little bit of bad in order to experience the cornucopia of excellence that comes with the game.  






 
 



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