Your favorite pirate radio station, JET SET RADIOOOO
The plot of Jet Grind Radio is relatively simple, You play as an array of characters from the skating/graffiti gang The G.G's. The G.G's turf has been attacked by another graffiti gang, and its up to you to find out what gang has attacked your turf and hopefully put a stop to it, only to find out there is something or somebody else behind the scenes causing trouble.
There are several types of 'Tag spots' Small, medium and of course large. A small section you can take out with just 1 spray can and requires no more than a press of the left trigger, But as the tags increase in size they increase in difficulty as well. Making you move your control stick in certain patterns to successfully spray your tag, and requiring you to have a healthy supply of paint before you even make an attempt at the larger patterns.
Liked-STYLISH- Everything about this title just oozes style. All the characters have very original, very distinct appearances. Presented in what I think is one of the if not the first example of cell shaded visuals.
STORY- The story isn't necessarily good, in fact, there is very little story to be had. However, the story that is there and the situations that arise throughout the course of the game, are so bat-shit insane that it is hard not to have some respect for its dedication to being totally nuts.
LEVEL DESIGN- The world is divided into 4 sections. Shibuya-Cho, Benten-Cho, Kogane-Cho and Grind City. With the exception of Grind city, each section is also divided into 3 subsections. As you play through the story, You tackle each individual part of a particular area (1 part of Shibuya-Cho, 2nd Part of Shibuya-Cho etc). As you come to a close on the story, Your levels you played through earlier will combine, bringing you to a level in Shibuya-Cho where you have to travel and spray through every Shibuya-Cho focused section thus far. Really gives you a sense of scope and makes it feel like more like an open world towards the end instead of just a level you chose off a map screen. Lots of things to grind and places to spray, It's a really well designed game from top to bottom.
REPLAYABILITY- Each stage has a time limit and a point counter, the more points you get and the faster you finish a stage, the better rating you get. As you clear areas in the story, you unlock extra stages to test just how skilled you have become at the game. There are over 100 graffiti designs to collect throughout the world of Tokyo-to and several hidden characters you can unlock as well, which have different stats and different paint pattterns. Provided you want to, theres plenty of reason to keep coming back.
Disliked-CONTROLS- The controls are very 'wonky'. The camera control is located on the left trigger, the same button that initiates your spray can..So when your trying to bust it through an area spraying some little paint spots, tapping your trigger, you may go slamming straight into a wall because the camera gets so messed up. It could be worse, but it certainly isn't ideal. Jumping, dosen't work like it should and will sometimes send you flying into areas you didn't intend to go. And the trick system, which involves you going fast and jumping is more of a nuisance than anything. All together, the controls really do damper the experience and are far more damaging to this otherwise fantastic title than they should be.
SOUNDTRACK- With a few exceptions, the soundtrack of Jet Grind Radio is an american gamer's nightmare. God awful Japanese pop and hip hop tunes that have little to no redeeming qualities about them. Dont get me wrong, the music totally fits the game, just as unique as the gameplay...it just...Eh, I dont know what to say about this. Just I warned you alright?
POP IN AND FRAMERATE- Easily visible in the first stage of the game, Signs and the like are constantly appearing out of no-where directly in front of you. Ive never had any problem with things that need to be there popping in or out randomly (Grind locations, paint locations) but when a car appears out of no-where and runs you over, it can get a bit irritating. The framerate is also a problem suffering from little bits of slow-down here and there, but it dosen't become a huge problem until you reach Chapter 2, In the Grind City section of the game the framerate drops durastically to the point where it feels like a flip-book.
THE ENEMIES- As you spray things in a stage, at several points calls will be made for enemies to come and impede your progress. Early on in the game its not much of a problem, But in later sections like Grind City, when they send in Helicopters and have assasins electrocuting extremely complex grind-rails it becomes unfairly difficult. Ive beaten this game about 10 times since it came out in late 2000, and the later enemies still infuriate me.
I love this game. I love it to death. Ive played it many times over the years, and I sat down and played it in 1 sitting before I started writing this review today. The game has problem's, alot of problems. But for as many problems as the game has, Its so fun, so charming, so original, that I cant dislike the game. Looking at it logically, it has alot of really annoying issues and the sequel is a far more polished game..but if you have a dreamcast and havent given this game a shot I cannot recommend it enough. You dont see games like this very much any more, and I think its a real shame. Jet Grind Radio is a game I will love till my dying day.