The Sega Dreamcast didn’t last long, but in its short lifespan, it managed to produce a handful of original games that opened our eyes to possibilities we had never seen before. If you ask any Dreamcast fan what they most remember playing, Jet Set Radio will probably be at the top of the list. It was a game that introduced us to the wonders of cel-shaded graphics and the joys of spraying and skating down the streets of an imaginary Tokyo. It was an impressive title, and now over a decade after its initial release, Jet Set Radio is back, showing us it’s still got it.
Check out our exclusive Jet Set Radio HD trailer!
Jet Set Radio follows the story of a group of skaters, who roam the streets of Tokyo spraying graffiti all over town, and their run-ins with rival gangs. Missions involve picking up spray cans and tagging several targets in a short amount of time, all while avoiding the comical amounts of firepower the authorities throw your way. Each mission gets more challenging as the game progresses and rewards you with a score depending on your overall performance.
Through its use of cel-shading, the game is able to effectively capture the lightheartedness of the story and make it seem like you’re inside an interactive cartoon. Its updated resolution makes the little details stand out more, and the colorful palettes of each of the neighborhoods you’ll skate through look even brighter than before. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t devoid of frame rate issues, and there were also moments when the game and music would stutter.
Check out the Jet Set Radio HD Heritage Collection Trailer!
Grinding on surfaces such as railings is a big component of how you move in the game, so it’s a shame the overall physics still feel overly floaty at times. The original’s camera controls, at least, have been greatly improved and now let you control the camera using the right analog stick. Having two analog sticks means you can now skate on by and turn corners with ease knowing the camera will always be there following your every move.
All but one of Jet Set Radio’s original tracks returns, and the soundtrack is still as catchy as ever and complements the game’s portrayal of the Japanese hip-hop culture. We did notice the audio balancing seems to be off, as the background music drowns out the game’s helpful and immersive sound effects if you raise its max volume.
Despite its technical hiccups, Jet Set Radio is a joy to play, even 12 years after its release. Its varied missions will keep you coming back for more and the added treat of hearing its eclectic soundtrack makes playing them all the more fun. If you never owned a Dreamcast before, you now have no excuse to miss out on one of Sega’s most enjoyable and original titles.