Jet Set Radio HD
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2012-09-27 PS3 Arcade T (Teen) SEGA / Smilebit

Twelve years ago, Jet Grind Radio graced the Dreamcast with its upbeat sound and cell-shaded look that become a new trend in graphic style for videogames to follow. Now, gamers old and new to the rudie scene have the pleasure of reviving the experience in HD on their current consoles.

Jet Set Radio HD takes place in Tokyo-to, a city divided into three territories, each with a specific theme and a rival gang. Shibuya-cho is the bright daylight shopping district, governed by the Love Shockers. Benten-cho has perpetual nightlife going on, and the Noise Tanks are the gang of choice. It's always sunset in Kogane-cho, where Poison Jam rules. Gangs fight each other for street domination by tagging certain areas.

In a brief overview of the story, you learn about the three districts, their gangs and the efforts of the Mayor and the local police to stop the desecration of their city by graffiti tags. Radio DJ Professor K acts as the narrator and keeps you up to date regarding the events in Tokyo-to.

You play as Beat, a 15 year old rudie who decided to start his own gang: the GG's (Graffiti Gangsters). Initially, two other rudies will send you on a series of challenges to test your skills and to let you get acquainted with the controls. After the "tutorial in disguise", Gum and Tab become the next members of your gang. Soon enough you will have to face the challenges of several other rudies, always of increasing difficulty, testing your speed and tag skills as you skate through the different districts.

Your score is based on how well you do within the time limit. Tasks revolve around finding and covering up other gangs' graffiti tags in a certain area while dodging the authorities. These become increasingly more complicated as tags are placed in harder to reach spots (rooftops, walls, sewers) and the police will eventually gets some extra help from the army, with tanks and helicopters chasing you down.

As you progress through the game and complete more tasks, you will recruit more members for your gang. Each of them will have a different set of attributes, such as speed, health and graffiti skills. The higher a graffiti skill, the higher the score you can get from tagging. Doing tricks while skating around will also earn you more points, so it's always good to learn how to grind, jump to higher areas or wall-ride. This takes quite a bit of practice, and unfortunately, the only way to learn the levels is by repetition and memorizing what to do for each stage. The more you play, the better you get at it.

Jet Set Radio has a distinct presentation. The environments and characters are vibrant and colorful, and the entire game plays like a cartoon. The unique art style and soundtrack (which SEGA went through a lot of work to license almost all of the original tunes) still hold up today. Unfortunately, the bad camera angles still haunt this newer version.

While initially this may seem little more than a graphic and audio "facelift", there are a few welcome changes. You can now enjoy the game in full widescreen, there is a documentary featuring interviews with the dev team, and also a few unlockable bonus tracks from Jet Set Radio Future.

Whether you long for the old days of the Dreamcast in all its glory or if you have never heard of the original, Jet Set Radio HD is worth experiencing.