Jet Set Radio Review

Jet Set Radio was interesting in the year 2000, but the game needed more than a fresh coat of paint to make its awkward design worth revisiting.

When Jet Set Radio debuted on the Dreamcast in North America as Jet Grind Radio back in 2000, it offered a unique experience that no other console game of that era could match. Players stepped into the skates of energetic graffiti artists residing in the fictional city of Tokyo-to. The goal was to tag as much of the landscape as possible with colorful graffiti designs, a task made difficult by the presence of rival gangs that were attempting to do the exact same thing--and by a police force that believed the best punishment for such vandalism was death by guided missile. The only way to stay ahead of the threats was to keep cruising and grinding, leaping from one point to another and pausing only just long enough to spray an intricate tag before resuming the crazy rush.

Graffiti may be artwork, but don’t forget: it’s also a crime!

Jet Set Radio relies heavily on its presentation and it doesn’t always stress the details. Stages end abruptly once you tag all available points (marked by red arrows), not when you achieve a certain score or defeat a challenging boss. The energetic beats looping in the background and the vibrant cel-shaded visuals have always been the primary reasons to keep playing, and those elements are especially effective now that all of the familiar artwork has been upgraded for high-definition televisions. Most of the original music also returns. Players discovering the game in 2012 may wonder what they’re missing, though, because there’s not a lot to savor beyond the funky presentation.

Jet Set Radio's most regrettable issue is its simple but somehow ineffective control setup. As your skater cruises through the various areas, even the simple act of skating in a straight line can sometimes prove difficult if you're not grinding a railing, because you have to hold the analog stick forward to build speed. The tiniest nudge of the analog stick can wreak havoc, since your skating graffiti artist is prone to wide sweeping movements rather than more precise motions. Yet if you need to change direction slightly while flying through the air (usually because your skater launched unexpectedly toward one side or the other rather than pushing forward in the anticipated straight line), fiddling with the analog stick often has almost no effect at all.

The rails you must frequently grind also lack stickiness, which makes landing on them at the end of a leap a tricky proposition. You may overshoot your intended destination, and that often means you must backtrack through hazardous territory so that you can make another attempt. Building up speed so that you can manage the long jumps required to clear gaps is also an issue, since by default your skater moves at a snail's pace. You're forced to pay entirely too much attention to the controls the whole time you play, lest a split second of inattentiveness lead to disaster.

Getting around Tokyo-to can be a bit of a grind.

The inadequate camera does nothing to alleviate such control issues, either. Many of the environments are practically barren until enemies begin appearing in response to your vandalism, but you still stumble across a few unwelcome piles of debris in the most inconvenient of places, or perhaps a series of vehicles parked along a street between you and a wall that you need to tag. The camera gets stuck on objects in confined spaces, jerks crazily if you're following a path through a winding corridor, or spins in such a way that you can't see environmental obstacles that in any other game would be easily spotted. The only way to make crucial runs in some stages is to first memorize their layouts through trial and error.

In some instances, you also must tag objects with precise timing, but since the left trigger serves two functions, it's easy to accidentally start messing with the camera instead of tagging the environment as you may have intended. Such goofs delay your ability to paint for a brief moment, which is time enough that you sometimes miss spraying a target that you should easily have been able to tag on the fly.

Instead of finding ways to alleviate the camera and control issues, the game's original developers at Smilebit used those flaws as a means of providing additional challenge. In one stage, for instance, your chosen skater must race along an arcing passageway, then leap onto a narrow and winding ledge, ride it along an S path, and finally leap over a balcony to land on a narrow bit of piping that when viewed from a distance blends in with the background. This scenario would be fun but not especially challenging in a game with responsive controls and a friendly camera, but in Jet Set Radio it is a chore. Building up speed requires a rush down a corridor with horrible visibility, and the leap from one construction beam to another requires that you guess properly about the precise positioning of a rail that often is off-camera.

The game has no shortage of great tunes, and the kooky DJ is still fun.

In a few other stages, your skater's goal is to tag members of a rival gang with paint. The environments where you must do so are built to slow you down at every turn. In the first such mission, the cowardly goons skate along a sewer pathway that includes stairs, pools of murky water, and an enclosed passage that is littered with piles of immovable barrels and equipped with a trapdoor in the floor. Your job is to direct your skater as he or she races after those foes--who all move with an easy grace that most human players will never reproduce with their skaters--and spray them from behind several times. Until you memorize the stage layout in its entirety (along with the route your rivals follow), you don't stand a chance.

Not every stage is frustrating in the same way, and there are moments when you find yourself having some fun, but each new environment presents an exasperating wrinkle of some sort. The most common stage objective simply asks your skater to roam around and tag key areas while avoiding an ever-increasing police presence. Such levels begin with almost no resistance at all, which gives you time to gather paint cans (since your graffiti-loving skater always starts with none on hand). After you tag a few locations, though, you have to avoid tear gas, dogs, SWAT teams, a trigger-happy captain, helicopters that fire missiles, and other similar hazards. That had the potential to be exciting, but the finicky controls and ineffective camera make it difficult to track the location of your enemies until they're pelting you with bullets, grenades, or missiles.

It’s all downhill from here.

As if the control and camera issues weren't bad enough, sometimes you may also find yourself accidentally exiting stages. The city environments you explore have invisible boundaries, and you receive a warning if you're about to pass one. However, no barrier prevents you from actually doing so. You are simply taken to the level selection menu. So if you're most of the way through a stage, an onscreen arrow indicator might be pointing you toward a point that you need to tag, and it may direct you along a path that leads you near an exit. Then you could get hit by a car or an explosive blast and knocked out of bounds before you have a chance to recover.

Jet Set Radio doesn't feel as much like a game as it does a test of endurance. Entertainment options have come a long way since 2000, and consumers now take smooth controls and a capable camera system for granted. Most gamers will find little joy in the outdated design elements that so thoroughly color this particular experience, even if they are in the mood for something retro. While the game was once an interesting way to pass the time, its value has expired, and a shinier coat of paint doesn't change that.

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The Good
Prettier than ever
Funky soundtrack
The Bad
Touchy controls
Inept camera
Frustrating stage design
4.5
Poor
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0 comments
realguitarhero5
realguitarhero5

Well I for one actually agree with this, the controls kind of suck and the rails do lack stickiness so it does make the game somewhat painful to play.

hoppimike
hoppimike

 Hey like, fair enough if you don't like JSR, I don't mind.


But to put your incredibly controversial view down as an official Gamespot review is thoroughly unprofessional.

ooole
ooole

New Age Games Journalism. Pathetic...

natethegamer
natethegamer

Jet Set Radio had its share of problems, which Smilebit more than fixed when creating the stellar Jet Set Radio Future on Xbox. I was hoping this would be that game, but hey Jet Grind Radio was still great.

walterg74
walterg74

Wow.. Just wow... This is on sale right now, so headed over here to check ratings for the port... Not suprised to see the GS reviewer having no clue (as always), what I was surprised at is the the summary intro line says it all: this guy has no idea this is a remake, and should be taken as such. His review sounds as thou he thinks they're trying to pass this off as a new game... Can anyone get a job at gamespot reviewing like walking in with a "help wanted" sign..?

Shadownk
Shadownk

why do  japenese have to make their games so dam hard

SAGE_OF_FIRE
SAGE_OF_FIRE

Game isn't a 4.5. General rule of thumb is to ignore everyone except VanOrd at Gamespot.

BryanParksSuper
BryanParksSuper

I played the Demo and the game is a bad port of the Dreamcast game. It doesn't support Widescreen TV's like Sonic Adventure does. Controls are horrible,Camera is bad, everything bout the game is horrible. I do not recommend anybody buy this game. Okami comes out Oct 30th and is worth the $20 price tag.

IceJester45
IceJester45

I still have this game for my Dreamcast. I played it a little last year. Surprisingly, it still looks pretty good even when it's not running in HD. But, yeah, the gameplay and design hasn't aged well. This review has it right. Playing the Dreamcast version of the game recently ruined some of the great memories I had of playing the game when it came out way back in 2000. I don't care if the game was a 9/10 12 years ago. If it hasn't aged well, it's not worth anything close to a 9 now.

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

I want to make a petition to ban Gelugon_baat for ever from Gamespot. Lets make a page or something. It would be so much fun <3 She is terrible. The only thing she does continuously is post stuff all the time just to troll people and to project Gamespot reviewers. She is terribly sick, the first thing she does when she wakes up in the morning is put up a post on Gamespot. This has to stop! She has to get a life back!! The poor thing! <3 WHO IS WITH MEE!!

Proman84
Proman84

"Stages end abruptly once you tag all available points (marked by red  arrows), not when you achieve a certain score or defeat a challenging  boss."

 

Why is that considered to be an abrupt end when tagging all available points is the primary goal of every level?

Proman84
Proman84

This game is stil fantastic. Of course the controls were touchy but that it exactly what made this game so challenging and rewarding.

augustoaag
augustoaag

This review must be taken down, the game is supossed to be hard it is a fucking plataformer and the controls are just simulating that the player is on skates all the time.

 

How can a masterpiece with better graphics be a 4.

 

Dreamcast 94 metacritic.

http://www.metacritic.com/game/dreamcast/jet-grind-radio/critic-reviews

 

I'm going to post some of your stupid quotes on why the game is so bad:

 

"Stages end abruptly once you tag all available points (marked by red arrows), not when you achieve a certain score or defeat a challenging boss."

 

you have to hold the analog stick forward to build speed

 

Yet if you need to change direction slightly while flying through the air fiddling with the analog stick often has almost no effect at all.

 

The only way to make crucial runs in some stages is to first memorize their layouts through trial and error.

Until you memorize the stage layout in its entirety (along with the route your rivals follow), you don't stand a chance.

 

ives you time to gather paint cans (since your graffiti-loving skater always starts with none on hand).

The city environments you explore have invisible boundaries, and you receive a warning if you're about to pass one. However, no barrier prevents you from actually doing so.

 

 

 

 

Please fire this reviewer, probably a sony fanboy with a growing hatred since the psx vs dreamcast age...

 

 

 

AZN_style
AZN_style

Having played the original on the Dream Cast all those years ago, i have to say this definitely brought back memories, and a good couple hours of fun on the day i downloaded it...The only gripe i have about this game is that you can't physically save the game yourself, and the only way to make sure your game saves your current progress is to go back to the main title screen...Other than that, and the large amount of loading needed between levels this game is definitely still a heck of a lot of fun, especially for those of us who were already hardcore gamers back in the late 90's... 

BillyColeman
BillyColeman

least IGN game it a 7.5 this guy did not bring up how you can get trophies or achievements or anything much all he did was cut it down all i can say is very poor rev you make me sick gamespot

BillyColeman
BillyColeman

this rev is trash iv been playing on the ps3 and its been good old fun maybe this guy just cant take the heat 

psuedospike
psuedospike

Where the hell is Dave Halverson when you need him?  Someone put out the Gamefan search light so we can get a real game review!!

GoldenEye2010
GoldenEye2010

"Like OMG the game is like old-ish, so it's bad and junk" - Gamespot reviews

gix47
gix47

really amazing game.

 

 

Andrex1212
Andrex1212

Honestly... I was extremely disappointed to find out that this was the mediocre Jet Grind Radio rather than the much more improved Jet Set Radio Future. I naturally expected it to be Jet Set Radio Future considering the name is more similar to that of the 2003 sequel rather than the 2000 debut.

 

I definitely didn't enjoy this as much as I could've. I had fun with the original game back in 2000 simply because, as the reviewer mentioned, the game was unlike anything before it, or anything else at the time. I didn't play near as much Jet Grind Radio as I did Jet Set Radio Future though. The controls of Jet Set Radio Future seemed to be much more intuitive and much less irritating; the soundtrack was a lot better as well. I can't tell you how many times I left the game running to listen to the funky tunes if I needed to do some cleaning or work on homework at the time.

 

All in all, I strongly agree with the sentiments expressed in this article. I often have found myself disagreeing with statements made in reviews on GameSpot lately, but I think this review hit the nail on the head.

 

Glad you didn't sugar coat anything here Jason, and good work; nostalgia only goes so far to reinvigorate a love for an old series. You definitely have to enhance the old experience so it doesn't seem to fall completely short of something you would expect now in 2012.

 

- Andrew

nejixx
nejixx

did you just give jet set radio a 4.5!! where you sane when writing the review?I wounder. this is a game like no other game,ignore the review and give it a try yourself.

DCUltrapro
DCUltrapro

definitely the most bogus review score of the game, regardless of me being a MASSIVE Dreamcast and JSR fan this is just ridiculous, sayings its only a 4.5 is like saying its soooo bad its broken. I've been playing it for an hour or more now and its just as good and easy to play as the original, the controls are fine they are not any worse than the original and when it came out in 2000 it won several awards and consistently received 9-10/10 review scores... so why the fcuk does this guy give it a 4.5?? Ignore the score and download the game, its brilliant and looks better than ever

2w-sephiroth
2w-sephiroth

The score should be more between this mark and the original mark, 4.5 in my notes would be a game that you cant barely play, you look at it with disgust and you think oh wow, why the hell I play this game! I hate it!The game was released in the year 2000Was one of the first tittles released within the first year in the Dreamcast console.

The first game to feature cell shaded graphics full of art style of its own.

Its the most original game that I can think of, in those years. Actually, I am sad that Dreamcast had to stop manufacturing consoles all together, I would have kept supporting their games. 

 

4.5? make a game your self first you fool, you would be surprised if you made a camera control that was a quarter of a quarter better than that, and a controller setup that was a quarter of a quarter better than that. 

kane638
kane638

4.5/10 Gamespot have some respect for yourselves. This is a game you gave 9/10 when it came out. 

EvilPixieGrrr
EvilPixieGrrr

I agree with this as well.  I think they should re-do Jet Set Radio Future with achievements, etc.  The controls were much better.  I loved that game. 

thekazumalord
thekazumalord

I played the demo yesterday and i agree with that the score should be low. It does have touchy controls that make it hard to navigate and don't always respond, lousy camera, and its too hard to play through and frustrating.. a total piece of garbage of a game. The voice work was bad too, like the voice actors didn't want to work on the game... i gave the game a 3 out of 10

l3igl3oss
l3igl3oss

 @Gelugon_baat I have reccently played Anarchy Reigns and that game changed my view on Action controls. Yeah, now I can safely say that Jet Set Radio feels a bit dated, but not to the point of a Poor rating...

 

kekejefferis
kekejefferis

I somewhat agree with this review, I think it probably deserves a 6.0 but either way JSR hasnt aged well.

JSRF from the original Xbox on the other hand was a work of art, it rectified almost all of the problems JSR had and also made the world more like a free roam sandbox.

Fingers crossed Sega get around to porting JSRF onto XBLA at some point... also while they are at it port Panzer Dragoon Orta too.

psuedospike
psuedospike

I am having so much fun with Jet Set Radio HD!!

 

Spent a couple hours designing and tweaking my custom tags:

Small - Mega Man pixel head

Medium - Ed from Cowboy Bebop's big yellow smiley face logo

Large - A replicated wallscroll from my favorite anime of all time Future Boy Conan

 

Beat it once already and unlocked the main characters, going back through now and trying to get Jet on everything.  I forgot how hard this game was!  Not hard in a bad way, hard in a really get good at the game and memorize the levels, where all the tags are and the infinite grinds to figure out the perfect way to fly through each level...kind of way.  

 

Another thing, I love the soundtrack, it took me back...but during the second playthrough I got sick of the same songs, so it's nice to be able to play any music I want from my PC through the xbox!!  I must say Gorillaz is the perfect fit for the Jet Set universe.

SukhoiLover
SukhoiLover

This review is just a big pile of BULLSH*T

Tatsumakisen
Tatsumakisen

Right so by the reviewer's reasoning, we should mark Pac-man 4.5 for its "barren" landscapes (never mind that this was due to technical limitations at the time), Defender should get 4.5 because "You may overshoot your intended destination, and that often means you must backtrack through hazardous territory so that you can make another attempt." 

Ikaruga (and every other scrolling shooter for that matter) deserves 4.5 because "Until you memorize the stage layout in its entirety (along with the route your rivals follow), you don't stand a chance." It's when you look at it from this perspective that you see how pathetic this review really is.

Morokoo
Morokoo

Apparently they got someone to review this who doesn't like a challenge.

Wasn't this series pretty popular for It's difficulty? I for one like a game to be moderately difficult.

I swear, some people act like any game that isn't filled with violence and offers a bit of a challenge is just torture to play nowadays.

Pr0ving4Gr0undz
Pr0ving4Gr0undz

Frustrating stage design??

Did they forget that this was a port in HD and not a remake?

wiserat4
wiserat4

Please bring a good dreamcast game to PSN!  Bang-iO, Garou: MOTW, Daisenryaku 2, Rival School 2: Justice Project! Anything but this crap!

bliciant
bliciant

Why  didn't they re-make  JSRF! i Love that game!

bonnin40
bonnin40

Is 4.5 really a fair score? really? ive played this game and i think it deserves much higher. i agree, it hasnt aged as well as other games from that era, but cmon 4.5 is a little ridiculous. I seriously think i could write a better review than this, and i do game reviews as a hobby, im not paid for it. 

ninedot
ninedot

I actaully remember this game being kinda fun back when I played it for the original xbox. But then again, I think the only reason I played it is because it was the only game I had ontop of sega gt 2000 (duo pack). SOOO,.. basically I had the choice of playing a game where the cars drive like hubboats (LOL seriously, play the game and youll see what I mean), or playing this. I won't lie, I plated both :|

MajorasMask00
MajorasMask00

Had this game 4 dreamcast, always thought it was overrated.

shengoro86
shengoro86

I do not completely agree with this review. I think the only thing that keeps this game from getting a great score is the audio glitches. Everything else is manageable.

Klikandclick
Klikandclick

I kinda agree with Gelugon in that we shouldn't plug our ears and go "LALALALA YOU SUCK AND I'M RIGHT" every time we encounter something we don't like but come on - This is Jet Set Radio we are talking about! It's a friggin' classic and I'm glad that they've acknowledged its existence by putting it in the market.

Inferi-Fang
Inferi-Fang

I'm still buying this game. JSR is awesome!

Jet Set Radio More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • Android
    • Dreamcast
    • + 5 more
    • iPhone/iPod
    • PC
    • PlayStation Vita
    • PS3
    • Xbox 360
    Jet Set Radio is an original Dreamcast game coming to the PSN, XBLA, and PC digital download.
    8.8
    Average Rating1591 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Jet Set Radio
    Developed by:
    Sega, Smilebit, Blit
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genre(s):
    Platformer, Action, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Animated Violence, Mild Language