Together Retro Game Club: Jet Grind Radio / Jet Set Radio

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Even though I’ve played this game many times, I’ve still been looking forward to featuring this Dreamcast gem on Together Retro.

About The Game

Jet Grind Radio offers an experience so unique, you’ll realize that you’ve never before played a game like it. The game does not really fit into one traditional genre as it features elements from action/adventure and extreme sports games with a few additional twists. It also has a graphical style that is all its own resulting in an engaging atmosphere.  It also features a an up-beat and unique soundtrack of eclectic songs that seemingly combines the musical genres of J-Pop, Trip-Hop, and Electronica (check out the Jet Set Medly for a nice sample). The American version added a bit of Rock and Hip-Hop songs to the soundtrack for its extra levels. This is one game that make me glad I have a nice set of speakers.

The only downfall of the game is that it isn’t really a game that a newbie can just pick up an play. At the beginning of the game you need to get a couple members to join you group. In order to do so, you need to follow some (for experienced JGR players) relatively simple actions/stunts. As a gamer that is starting out in the game, this may be a little intimidating. Because of this, I’m sure that many people gave up on this game very quickly. I admit, the first time I played it, I almost put it down. But I assure you, if you just become acquainted with the system, you will be very glad you did.

To give you a little flavor of what the game has to offer, check out this video — Even though it doesn’t feature music from the acutal game, I can watch this over and over.

How To Play

One thing that the creators of JGR want to make abundantly clear is that this is an action game. It is not an extreme sports game or a Tony Hawk clone (although I’m under the impression THUG2 goes some cues from JGR). The basic premise is simple. You skate around the city, avoiding the cops, while trying to cover any rival gangs’ graffiti with your own.

The first element of the gameplay is the skating and grinding. Like in Tony Hawk, almost any surface can be either grinded or ridden upon. However, the action of doing trick and such isn’t as complicated and once you get familiar with the game, it will become natural. I played this game a second time after not playing it in over a year and I can still grind and glide across them map and pull off breath-taking jumps and landings. The game engine has a great balance of being easy to learn, but difficult to master.

Once you get skating around, you’ll quickly encounter the “tagging” gameplay element. One each stage, you have a number of places you need to tag by spraying your graffiti on it. Graffiti comes in three different sizes: small, medium, and large. A simple tap of the left trigger sprays small tags. Medium and large tags require you to perform controller moves with the analog stick, which are displayed onscreen. This is similar to a simplified rhythm game.

After you tag a few spots, you will also notice that you will have to start running from some enemies — either the cops or (in later levels) some mafia-type characters. Tagging can be difficult to do because often the police are right on your tail and basically want to kill you. Cops will come at you in different ways throughout the game. While there are the normal deputies and guard dogs which try to hunt you down, the game has a sense of humor. You see, police choppers will fire heat-seeking missiles at you. Groups of cops with flame-throwers will attack you. And later, when the evil corporation sends its goons your way, they send out thugs with bombs strapped to their chests and grenades in their hands — All in the name of stopping graffiti artists. They must not have any larger issues to deal with.

Together Retro Discussion / High Scores

Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play some Jet Set Radio and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know your tactics, your strategies, your successes and your failures.

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Jack says:

I like JGR and all, but it’s not one of my favourite ever.

Acetate says:

This game is so much fun. I enjoyed every minute hanging out in Tokyo-to for hours, doing shit and all… The only reason I quit playing it was beacause of hardware issues with my DC.

I would love to play a multiplayer edition of this gem nowadays.

The Apprentice says:

Ah, this is one of the greatest games ever. It’s one of the few that I have had enough enjoyment to play to the end.

RyaNtheSlayA says:

cool im gonna have to put this on an emulator on my laptop so i can play while im in hawaii!

Eddie says:

I remember getting this game for 2 bucks brand new because the Dreamcast was going out of style (so not long after its release) and it was by far the best game I own for the system. The graphics are killer and getting to cause emotional distress to people and being rewarded for it was something I enjoyed at age 16. This game had its easy parts and it had its aggrivating parts. I actually think about this game quite a bit. The Wii should let us download Dreamcast games since it lets us download Sega games…

deathclaw555 says:

eddie – Wii is far from being powerful enough to emulate DC games..

Logan says:

This game is amazing, but it has THE worst control scheme I’ve ever encountered in a game. Honestly, it’s about the most frustrating thing the Dreamcast has to offer. I still love it though, because the actual game itself is so amazing. Still, I can’t believe they didn’t tweak its control scheme before they released it. It’s abominable.

Logan says:

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

Yeah, I kept at it and beat the game, and it’s now one of my very favorites ever. So glad I finally got into that game. Now how do I stop!?

racketboy says:

Haha — that’s great, Logan
So glad you enjoyed it 🙂
And there’s nothing wrong with replaying levels — did you unlock everything?

the7k says:

If Sega weren’t so dreadfully awful as of late, I’d really hope they’d bring this game to the Wii. If we were talking Dreamcast-era Sega, they’d be able to figure out a great way to use waving that Remote around to make graffiti and other such silliness. The Sega of today, though, I’d rather they not ruin such a great series.

I’ve probably played though JGR more times than I can count on my hands. Only got to play JSRF once because my Xbox got bricked, but it was the very first game I got for the Xbox, and I certainly enjoyed it despite the simplification of the graffiti system.

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