240th played so far
I hate playing games out of order in this blog. It’s something we only do if we are unable to get an earlier game or if we are doing something special. So since we are doing X-Fest we are skipping over Jet Set Radio for now in favour of it’s sequel. Oh well, we’ll get to it in our next Dreamfest.
Last time I mentioned how it annoys me when games are desperate to be seen as cool. As the old adage goes; to be cool you should not care so much about being cool (which is why Marge Simpson will never been seen as cool by her children). This game goes against this in spades but instead of being groan-worthy it is a whole lot of fun. Although in a way, the reason it’s so fun is because it’s ridiculous enough about it that it doesn’t seem to try to be cool.
The idea behind this game is that you reside in futuristic Tokyo where as part of a graffiti-spraying rollerblading gang you are fighting both the establishment and other rival gangs through the medium of tagging and skating. Due to this fact there is a nice piece of backtracking at the very start as Sega urge us as the games not to randomly tag our neighbourhoods because graffiti is illegal despite having artistic merit (I am paraphrasing here). I know it is Sega just covering themselves in case of graffiti-based lawsuits since we are all mindless sheep who do what video games tell us to. That’s why I eat falling leaves during autumn due to my undying belief that I will gain a tail and the power of flight. Rant aside, this was a fantastically entertaining game.
In order to set the scene there game is equipped with a very apt soundtrack featuring electronic, funk and hip-hop music (a personal favourite being the bonkers song ‘Birthday Cake‘).
You maneuver around this interconnected sandbox-style city by grinding along rails, bouncing off of billboards and defying graffiti by going up vertical poles with very little momentum whatsoever. Some of these chains of grinding and jumping can be very tricky and picky in terms of timing. It can get frustrating but there is a lot on offer here that you do soldier on. Such as the graphics which, due to their cel shaded nature, still look as vibrant as they did back then, certainly better than how Killer7 looks under the lights of 2011-13. Some of the 3D models look a bit blocky but we are looking at a game 10 years later.
To add to the challenge of the game, you can find cassette tapes around the courses. These don’t give you music, as other games would do – not, they unlock new challenges in the area that give you access to glowing alien heads: You are able to collect different tags for your graffiti by collecting glowing alien heads which are in hard to reach places… some are really hard to reach.
To be fair the story is a bit weak and it feels like this game would have still been as good at it if they used a more Saints Row style play where you take on territory and defend it after getting warnings over your favorite pirate radio station (the DJ is frickin’ nuts). Then again, this works. It apparently worked in the original so why mess so much with the original… apart from getting decent sales that would have lead to a third installment. Ah, well.
Of course, half the fun is racing around the city doing tricks and reaching places. The challenges give you great reasons for doing so, but the story behind it is just not as relevant when you’re playing.
There’s places where this game is frustrating – it has random spots where the stunts suddenly become a lot trickier and there’s a few cases where, when you expect to lock onto grinding, the game doesn’t pick up on it. On the whole, however, the game plays well and it soon gets very addictive. That’s fun enough.