Whenever you talk about the Sega Dreamcast, rarely does anyone not mention Jet Grind Radio (Jet Set Radio in Japan). It’s one of the best games on the console and one of my favourite games of all time. If you haven’t had the chance to play it you can purchase a copy off of Ebay for $40, or you could download it off of the Playstation or Xbox stores (maybe, I was trying to locate it to see how much it costs on the Playstation store but I was unable to find it.). It’s also available on IOS and Android devices. It’s a series I wish could have continued on beyond the original and it’s sequel Jet Set Radio Future, which ended up only coming to the original Xbox. The story takes place in Tokyo-to, where a rollerblading, graffiti spraying rebel named Beat forms a crew called The GGs. The group initially consists of Beat, Gum and Tab; but other skaters are recruited as the game progresses. As the GGs try to take over as much turf as they can, they’re confronted by other rival gangs. These gangs consists of the all female Love Shockers, the cyborg looking Noise Tanks; and the Godzilla wannabes Poison Jam. What starts out as a simple turf war turns into something far greater when a vinyl record labeled ‘The Devils Contract’ which has the power to summon demons, has come into the hands of the leader of the Rokkaku group, Goji Rokkaku. He plans on using the record to take over the world. It all sounds ridiculous (and it is), but the way it’s presented is so damn cool, you can’t help but fall in love with it.
The music is fantastic. It’s a combination of J-rock, ska, dance, metal and hip hop. It’s all catchy and fits the theme of the game perfectly. The game is broken up into different levels, some parts even let you pick what area you want to go to first. Gameplay consists of tagging (spray painting) all the necessary spots in the level before the time runs out or the cops take you down. You’ll be doing all this while grinding and tricking your way through the level, trying to keep one step ahead of the police and Captain Onishima. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as grinding across a rail in front of a police helicopter, spray painting the front window of the chopper and causing the chopper to crash down. The whole game screams rebellion and there is even a warning at the beginning of the game telling you that graffiti is a crime. If you’ve ever felt the need to strap on a pair of rollerblades and form your own GGs, at least this is the game you can play to live out that dream, consequence free. There’s a ton of unlockable characters, one of them even being the GGs pet dog Pots. It adds a ton of replay value and encourages multiple playthroughs to hone your skils.
The Sega Dreamcast is one of my favourite systems and Jet Grind Radio is just one of the reasons why. The gameplay has never been replicated and it’s a shame we haven’t seen a new entry in the series (SEGA ARE YOU LISTENING?!). The game is filled with rebellion, angst, and style. It all comes together with the quirky cast of characters and cel shaded graphics to create something all its own. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. If you can’t play it on the Dreamcast, pick it up on the one of the other platforms. It’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed. – NVJ