Jet Set Radio HD review: Anything less than the best is a felony, and JSR is the best

Jet Set radio HD review

Jet Set Radio, like most video games, is aspirational. You play Call of Duty, you want to feel like a badass, no matter how morally dubious that badassery may be. You play Skyrim, you want to feel like a destined hero; Madden, you want to feel like a tactical genius of the gridiron. Jet Set doesn’t trade in those usual modes. What you aspire to in Jet Set Radio is coolness. You’re no hero here in one of Sega’s defining Dreamcast games, now reborn in HD. You’re just trying to be the coolest rudie in Tokyo-to, placing your tags around town and shutting down your violent, unsavory competitors while sticking it to the fascistic police force.

For those that missed Jet Set in its first go around at the dawn of the century, here’s the scoop: You control the GGs, one in a number of graffiti artist gangs (i.e. Rudies) kitted out with magnetic inline skates vying for dominance of Tokyo-to’s districts. You’re allied with Professor K, the DJ of a 24-hour pirate radio station called Jet Set Radio, whose mission is to expose the corrupt rulers of the city, the Rokkaku Corporation, and their police force cronies.

jet set radio playstation 3

Fighting the power in the world of Jet Set Radio mostly entails grinding rails and tagging everything in sight. Most levels in the game give you a time limit to enter a city district and spray down a set number of marked locations. You choose small, medium, and large tags for your skater — you can design your own or collect them in a tough to reach spots throughout the levels — and mark up the town appropriately. Small tags go up with just a quick pull of the left trigger on your controller, but medium and large tags require you to slide the left analog stick in time with onscreen prompts. You’ve got to be quick, though. Mess up, and your score multiplier is broken. Plus, you’ve got cops bearing down on you and they will literally kill you if given the chance (the authorities’ murderous nature is part of what makes being a vandal okay in Jet Set’s world).

Adventures in graffiti are only as interesting as the town they take place in. Luckily Tokyo-to is one hell of a city. Each district is a glorious tiered structure of train tracks, banisters, scaffolds, and billboards, all of which can be used to keep your skater moving fast, and gaining air. The skaters you unlock — rivals will periodically challenge you to trick-offs and races, joining the GGs if you win — have varying skills, but those that are fastest are the best because of how hard it is to move through the city. Jet Set Radio isn’t forgiving, and you have to learn both the rhythm of skating, how to properly line up a landing, and the layout of the sprawling neighborhoods if you hope to succeed. When you do, the flow of Jet Set is unlike any other. The first time you hug a corner, perfectly time a jump onto a billboard edge, and grind down a skyscraper, tagging as you go while the cops trail behind, you’ll cheer out loud.

jet set radio xbox 360

You’ll be bobbing your head too. Hideki Naganuma’s songs and the other tunes compiled by sound director, Fumitaka Shibata, still make up one of the best soundtracks ever in a game. The fusion of late-90s J-Pop and sample-heavy hip-hop has aged marvelously. Jet Set’s sound is more indebted to Shonen Knife, post-Paul’s Boutique Beastie Boys and The Avalanches than Kool Keith, and it still works. The HD remaster is only missing a couple of tracks from the original release, one of which was only featured in the PAL version of the game anyway.

Taking down Poison Jam in the Tokyo-to sewers, spray painting Captain Onishima in the face before he shoots you, designing your very own tag in the game’s editor, grinding a rail—It’s cool. Very cool.

Conclusion

Nostalgia can be poisonous for a game. Jet Set Radio isn’t without problems. The camera has as much trouble following you in the HD version as it did in the past. Niggling technical issues like that are barely worth mentioning though. This is the definitive version of the game, a big, beautiful presentation of one of Sega’s greatest creative achievements. It makes you aspire to coolness, and stands as an inspiring work in the tapestry of 2012’s games.

Score: 9 out of 10

(This game was reviewed on a PlayStation 3 copy provided by Sega)

Gaming

The best guns in Apex Legends for obliterating the competition

Though Apex Legends is a squad-based hero shooter, your success is largely dictated on the firepower in your arsenal. Our Apex Legends gun guide details every gun and lays out which ones are best in their class.
Computing

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

How to sync and troubleshoot your PS4's DualShock 4 controllers

Sony's Bluetooth-enabled DualShock 4 controllers for PlayStation 4 are some of the best on the market, but connection issues aren't unheard of. Here's how to sync them to your console.
Gaming

From arcade to simulation, here are the best racing games of all time

From serious sims to carnage-fueled arcade racers to cartoonish animated racers with items galore, we collected racing games of all different stripes from multiple eras of video games. Here are the best.
Gaming

Xbox-exclusive games could find a second home on Nintendo Switch

Microsoft is reportedly set to release some of its first-party games on Nintendo Switch, as well as the Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud services. Cross-play between Switch and Xbox One is already enabled.
Gaming

Transform into a tetromino master with our Tetris 99 tips and tricks

Tetris 99 is the latest battle royale game to stir up quite a bit of commotion. The Nintendo Switch Online exclusive adds a few new unexplained quirks to the Tetris formula. We've got you covered with our Tetris 99 tips and tricks.
Gaming

Need to perform a factory reset on your Xbox One console? Here's how to do it

Whether you're upgrading to a One X and giving your old console to a friend, or troubleshooting a technical issue, sometimes your Xbox One needs a clean slate. Here's our quick guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One.
Gaming

Battle royale-style Tetris 99 is the first Nintendo Switch Online-exclusive game

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.
Gaming

The best PUBG weapons to win you that coveted chicken dinner

Which weapons in PUBG are worth the time to scout out and fit with attachments? Which are going to help you become the last player standing? We've got the answers you need in our best PUBG weapons guide.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Computing

Metro Exodus update brings DLSS improvements to Nvidia RTX 20-series PCs

Having issues in Metro Exodus? A February 21 update for the title recently delivered enhancements to Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling feature and other fixes for low-specced PCs. 
Gaming

Want to play as Iron Man or Waluigi in GTA V? Our favorite mods make it possible

Grand Theft Auto V is best on the PC for many reasons, and modifications may be the most important. You can cause riots, spawn unique cars, and play as a cop with just a few extra files.