Game music of the day: Jet Grind Radio

GR's ongoing tribute to the beloved world of videogame music

Game: Jet Grind Radio

Song: Sneakman

Composer: Hideki Naganuma

Above: Sneakman from Jet Grind Radio

Few consoles define having a cult following as well as the Dreamcast has, and few Dreamcast games define it as well as Jet Grind Radio (aka Jet Set Radio everywhere outside of North America). It sold like crap, with new copies widely marked down to $10within a few months of its release, but its fans will passionately defend it to this day as one of the greatest games Sega's beleaguered system ever saw. It's not too hard to see why:JGR was a pioneer of cel-shaded graphics, and its gravity-defying, rail-grinding in-line skating/graffitti action was wildly enjoyable (even if it doesn't hold up quite as well today).The game's rebel-delinquent attitude painted skate punks as heroes and cops as the buffoonish tools of evil corporations, something that was almost unheard of back then.

And its soundtrackwas one of the most memorably eclectic of its time, with an assortment of rock, J-Pop, hip-hop and dance tunes(as well asRob Zombie'sDragula, of all things) that conspired to make the experience of high-speed vandalism and police-dodging even more awesome than it already was.

Amid all the licensed music (which varied between territories), there were three standouts, with the first being in-house Sega composer Hideki Naganuma. Also known for his work on Sonic Rush, Naganuma composed eight of the game's tracks, including the frenetic Sneakman (above),Let Mom Sleep(JGR's title-screen theme), Sweet Soul Brotherand Humming the Bassline, the game's comparatively mellow character-select music:

The second standout was Deavid Soul, a two-piece group that contributed five tracks to the game, includingOn The Bowland the unforgettable Yappie Feet:

Finally, the third standout act was Guitar Vader, responsible for the somewhat gratingMagical Girl(grating mainly after you'd heard it a few dozen times)and Super Brother, below:

There are plenty of other great tracks on Jet Grind's list (likeFunky Radio, heard frequently as the theme song of the in-game Jet Set Radio pirate station), and they're all better when heard in their intended context – which is to say while executing a rocket-propelled somersault over a cel-shaded rooftop.Sadly,that isn't really an option for those without Dreamcasts... unless, of course, all those rumors about adownloadable re-release eventually bear fruit.

Dec 7, 2010

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After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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