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Friday, July 15, 2011

Jet Set Radio Review

Release dates:
Japan: June 29, 2000
North America: November 1, 2000 (as Jet Grind Radio)
Europe: November 24, 2000

Game details:
One player
Standard controller
VMU Compatible: 4 blocks
VGA box
Jump Pack

When The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released, alot of people were impressed by the special graphics. The graphics looked like they were taken from comic or a cartoon; this technique is called cel-shaded animation. But one of the first games to use this
technique was Jet Set Radio, also known as Jet Grind Radio in North America.
Jet Set Radio was developed by Smilebit and published by Sega in June, 2000.
It was later re-released for Game Boy Advance and a sequel (Jet Set Radio Future) was made for the Xbox after Sega became a software-based company.

-Hard tutorial and annoying enemies

Before getting to the actual game, there is a mandatory tutorial. The first two
”levels” are pretty easy, but it's after that the hard stuff starts. First you need to jump to a platform and spray some graffiti on the wall. To spray on the wall, you have to
move the analog stick in certain directions. I found it hard to accomplish the exact movements, so
I just moved the analog stick in circles and that worked much better. The last thing in the tutorial is to hang on to a car up the street and then let go. You then have to collect the spray cans and go all the way down again while having to avoid all the cars coming in front of you and behind you! When you finally reach the bottom you have to grind and spray on two graffiti tags. Then you're done! Personally, it took about three tries to finish the tutorial. Maybe it's just me, who knows?

When the game starts for real, you get to choose from three different characters;
Beat, Gum and Tab. After that you get to see a map which is used to select your mission.
You have to make the area a part of your territory. You do that by ”tagging” busses, walls, signs and cars. You also have to spray over tags from other gangs.
Meanwhile, the cops and their leader, Officer Onishima, are trying to prevent you from tagging, and it's here that the game gets really frustrating. While the regular cops are annoying as
hell, throwing themselves at you and slowing you down, Officer Onishima is one of the most annoying enemy I have ever met in a video game. He has a gun, yes, a gun!
If you stand still for just a moment he will be right behind you, shooting you and slowing you down. He's also incredibly fast! You can never think ”now he won't be able to catch me," because he will be like a tick on your back. The only way to lose him is to either grind your way out of there or jump down a bridge or something.

Other than that the game is really fun when you get the hang of it. The air-tricks you can do are awesome! Unfortunately, you don't have much time to do them.
Speaking about time, there is a time limit! I've always hated time limits. I get so much pressure on me when I look at the numbers counting down and there's about seven tags to spray. Speaking of tagging, theres always a need of spray cans and it always takes time to find them. You run out of cans very fast!
What I was trying to say was that it's a great game and the idea was very fresh and new at the time. One cool thing Sega added was that you could connect online and share graffiti tags! (There are a few websites that people have uploaded custom tags. If you have a Nexus memory card, you can download these and upload your own to the site. BlueSwirl is one such site. - comradesnarky)

-Confusing but fun storyline

The story is told at the beginning by Professor K. He's the DJ of a pirated radio station in Tokyo-To. He tells you about the life in Tokyo-To for a ”rudie”. Rudie is kind of a nickname for the young people spraying and skating on the streets.

Tokyo-To is divided into three areas: Benten-cho, Kogane-cho and Shibuya-cho.
In each of the areas there's one rival gang. The Noise Tanks in Benten, Poison Jam in Kogane and the Love Shockers in Shibuya. They're all trying to attack and take over the GG's home turf.

You start out with forming a gang in Shibuya-cho, which forms a rivalry between your gang and the Love Shockers. You start playing as Beat, the leader and founder of the GG's. You then meet other rudies that joins the gang. First Gum and then Tab.
As you progress in the game, more rudies will join your gang.

But I don't really understand what the radio station has to do with it. But for its time,
this whole idea was very new. Graffiti, vandalism and funky music.

-Decent controls

If I compare the controls with Sonic Adventure, the controls are pretty good.
Not great, but good. The analog stick works well but sometimes it can be a little hard to steer the character. There is no option that allows you to use the D-pad, which I think isn't a that big of a loss. Imagine playing skating games with a D-pad.
So, as a conclusion for the controls: it's decent.

-Revolutionary graphics!

The cel-shading technique was very new for it's time and had only been used for a handful of games before. But this time it took adantage of the power the Dreamcast had for its time and made it look wonderful. Today, it still looks awesome because of the technique used. I think that's what made cel shaded animation much more popular like it is today.

-Awesome but repetitive music

The soundtrack features licensed songs from different genres like Hip-hop, funk, rock, jazz and even metal which was only included in the NTSC version.
This sounds like a wide variety, but it's too repetitive. Same song over and over again.


Jet Set Radio was it's own new genre. Skating and vandalism. With revolutionary graphics which are still good today and great action it is a true Dreamcast classic!
Still, the controls could've been better and the enemies could've been easier to handle.
Lets not go down the worst-enemy-ever road and focus on how awesome the music is and how fantastic the graphics are! So if you can handle the controls and the enemies it's a helluva' game!


I know a lot of people really love this game so remember, we all have different opinions.

Jet Set Radio was also re-released for Japan as De La Jet Set Radio. It included the two exclusive levels from the North American and European releases and made other tweaks to the game.


  1. Another great review AGES. :D Jet Set Radio was an amazing game playing it for the first time. The funky track by B.B Rights - Funky Radio

    Enough said, I was sold as soon as I beat the first level after the tutorial, I knew I had to see how this game ended. Quite long too it took me about 17 hours I think! Thanks for the nostalgia.