Published on June 12th, 2012 | by Cameron Woolsey
E3: Better Brush Your Teeth! It’s Our Jet Set Radio HD Impressions (Vita)
Platform: Xbox 360 (Xbox LIVE Arcade), PlayStation 3 (PSN), PlayStation Vita, Windows PC
Release Date: Summer 2012
I can’t believe that 12 years have passed since I first picked up SEGA’s unique music-driven classic, Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio in the U.S.) for the Dreamcast. It was a game way ahead of its time, featuring fun characters, graffiti as weapons, an incredible soundtrack, while also spearheading cel-shading in games.
Jet Set Radio blended music and art so well that seemingly one couldn’t exist without the other. It was a game that was purely fun and and had a style that resonates with gamers even today. Its sequel, Jet Set Radio Future, didn’t try and re-invent the formula, but added updated controls and new abilities to the mix along with a futuristic theme.
You can only imagine my joy when SEGA announced that they were giving Jet Set Radio the HD treatment. During E3 last week I visited the SEGA booth and made a beeline straight to a set of Vita’s running the game. With the beats pumping and Professor K’s smooth voice against my eardrums, I started to get that Ooki-Ooki-Waku-Waku feeling once more.
Not a whole lot has change gameplay-wise in this version of JSR. The movement controls, while adequate, are still a bit clumsy and the camera still gets confused on walls. The obvious update is graphical: the game has been upgraded to HD visuals and the aspect ratio is set to a wide screen for HDTVs or, in the case of this preview, the PlayStation Vita.
The Vita version of Jet Set Radio looks phenomenal. The graphical update is impressively clean and vibrant, with nary a pixel out of place. The game can be controlled either using the Vita’s directional pad or left analogue stick. I found that the analogue stick is a much better choice when it came to movement, as it responds much better to the 3D game. The stick is also ideal when tagging the environment.
As usual, the object of the game is to mark your territory using spray cans which can be picked up around the level. Small tags can be marked quickly, while the larger ones require a series of analogue movements matching on-screen prompts. The analogue stick responded very well to the different movements for painting–surprisingly, even better than what I remember back on the Dreamcast.
It took a little practice to get back into the groove, but learning how to maneuver my chosen “rudie” was fast and soon I was grinding and dodging cops like it was 2000 all over again.
One addition to the game is the ability for players to upload their own graffiti. This should allow street artists to finally live the life of Bansky and spread their message while sticking it to the man. At least that’s what I hope people do instead of just running around painting dongs.
Everything I loved about the game 12 years ago is still alive and kicking in the HD upgrade. The PlayStation Vita port worked about as smoothly as anyone would hope, and should definitely provide hours of spray painting joy and trance-like head bobbing to the awesome (nearly complete) soundtrack when the game releases this summer for the Vita, Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network.