Smilebit's Jet Set Radio--published by Sega for the Dreamcast console last year and titled Jet Grind Radio in the US--was a game that impressed us on many levels. The game was superbly playable, and its artistic vision brought a breath of fresh (albeit aerosol-tinged) air to the look of gaming and innovated a technique that has become ubiquitous since its inception. Needless to say, we've been eagerly awaiting word of the inevitable sequel.
And word indeed came at this year's Spring Tokyo Game Show. Titled Jet Set Radio Future and currently under development for Microsoft's Xbox console, the follow-up to Smilebit's visual stampede is set to bring a host of gameplay tweaks to the game's system, as well as delve deeper into the surreal mythology of Tokyo-to.
Masayoshi Kikuchi and Ryuuta Ueda--Project Director and Art Director for Jet Set Radio Future, respectively--were kind enough to share some words on the game with us after our initial meeting at E3. While there is still much about the game that remains in the dark, we're hoping that this short dialogue will help everyone endure the seemingly long wait for further information.
GameSpot: The original Jet Set Radio is probably the most unique game around in terms of visual design. What influenced its unique look? How does the team feel about the current proliferation of the cel-shading technique that it pioneered?
Smilebit: The unique look of the title probably came from '70s Japanese animation, comic magazines from the US, and everything from pop art to package designs of junk food and detergent...you name it. Also, stylish music or movies inspired us for the title.
About cel shading, we realize now that the effect is used in many games nowadays. We think it is a good way to achieve originality, since many games are now focused on looking as realistic as possible. We also like the fact that many developers are using the effect--that will help us all to eventually use the effect at a higher level.
GS: What sorts of graphical innovations will the team bring to Jet Set Radio Future? We've seen motion blurs and line distortions--will there be any more?
SB: We are currently working on that.
GS: What is the most drastic change that the team has made to Jet Set Radio Future?
SB: The content of Jet Set Radio Future is totally new and different from that of Jet Grind Radio. In regard to JSRF's gameplay, we are trying to maximize on the "extreme" feel.
GS: What types of changes to the game's trick system will Jet Set Radio Future see? We've heard a lot about combos and gravity-defying grinds. Can you tell us more about the trick system?
SB: Basic action, such as air trick and wall grind, will be the same as that of Jet Grind Radio. In JSRF, players can enjoy doing consecutive air/grind tricks. Other exciting cool action tricks are coming up. Stay tuned for more updates on that.
GS: There's been mention that JSRF will feature a variety of multiplayer modes, both cooperative and competitive. Can you tell us more about them?
SB: We are still evaluating some ideas for cooperative/competitive mode, so we cannot really get into details at this time.
GS: Will the gameplay change at all during the multiplayer games?
SB: We want it to be something people gather up to play and have fun with.
GS: Will the game feature any online multiplayer modes?
SB: Information on online capabilities has not yet been announced.
GS: What can you tell us about the game's story?
SB: The main characters and basic story in Jet Set Radio Future will be similar to that of Jet Grind Radio, but this time, we are going to delve a bit deeper.
GS: We've seen images of a few of the game's new characters. What can you tell us about them?
SB: It is secret for now!
GS: Will the game take place in Tokyo-to? Will players get to visit other locales?
SB: We blend new futuristic images with much bigger game maps. Tokyo-to is coming back with a totally new aspect in JSRF.
GS: Can you talk about the game's stages? What sort of philosophy did you have in mind while you were designing them? What new types of obstacles and features can players expect to find within them?
SB: There are many futuristic worlds you see in a movie or other games. However, we did not want to take stereotyped "futuristic" style--we wanted to create our own futuristic image, which is a blend of old, new, and a new imaginational look.
GS: Thank you very much for your time.