Review – Jet Set Radio HD
We used to call him Spazz. Now he’s sat there chatting to Nas.
Classic Dreamcast gaming returns in this Xbox Live Arcade port of a 2000 classic. You play a gang of rogue inline skaters, the GGs, who just like to spray graffiti all over their home turf. Once rival gangs start getting involved, and the police get tough, GGs spread their influence by gaining new gang members and moving into new areas of Tokyo-to (a place that “doesn’t appear on no map” despite being shown on a map – Ed).
The mechanics of Jet Set Radio HD are difficult to describe. Part-skating game, part-platformer, part-quick time event, I guess. Obviously you’re riding skates so there’s momentum and tricks, but you’ll need to utilise your skills to get to hard to reach areas as well, either through grinding rails or wall riding and the like. The goal of each stage is to spray paint all the tagging spots in a level before the time runs out, whilst avoiding any obstacles such as the cops, attack dogs or of course, tanks. Tagging involves rotating the left stick numerous times as indicated on screen. Larger tags take more rotations. It’s the same every time so if you have a favourite character you can learn their patterns pretty quickly.
This re-release retains the majority of the music from the original (only two tracks are missing) which is a key part of the game’s charm. The quirky music, cel-shaded graphics and unusual gameplay made for a memorable experience back in the day and it’s still enjoyable now. The controls and camera aren’t perfect but they aren’t game breaking either and if you persist you’re in for a treat, whether it’s through nostalgia or otherwise. Here’s hoping they release Jet Set Radio Future with achievements sooner, rather than later.