Published on September 25th, 2012 | by Andre Gamble, Contributor
Jet Set Radio HD Review
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 [Reviewed], PlayStation Vita
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2012
MSRP: $10 or 800 MS Points
Reviewer note: A token for the game was given for review purposes.
I’ve been very cautious when it comes to HD re-releases of games. It’s not that I don’t think developers can recreate the magic a game had when it was first released, but because I have made up my mind that certain games back then were perfect.
If a game were to be re-released and it didn’t live up to my own high expectations it might destroy my fragile little mind, and change what I thought about games forever. SEGA has finally readied itself to test that idea with the HD re-release of Jet Set Radio. Jet Set Radio, known in America originally as Jet Grind Radio, has been viewed as a classic for Dreamcast fanboys. However, besides spawning a sequel for the Xbox, a Gameboy port and a Jet Set Radio character appearing in Sega and Sonic All-star Racing, the JSR franchise has been largely forgotten by SEGA.
Jet Set Radio’s artistic merit has stood the test of time mostly due to the game’s cartoony look and quality cel-shaded graphics. The game looks as good as I remember, but I do wish the graffiti was redone to look better in HD. This is particularly the case since you spend a lot of time looking at the different pieces as you tag in walls, trains and even a couple of attack helicopters.
The character models of the different playable characters also look good. You’ll even notice some things on the characters you may not have noticed before back when you were playing it on the Dreamcast. For example, Gum’s hair coming out the sides of her hat, or that Tab actually has a face.
Sadly, this HD remake doesn’t preform very well.
Frame rate problems plague this game, especially late in the story mode. You’ll notice you’re characters moving incredibly slowly as you skate down the street. It’s really inexcusable being that this game runs well on the Dreamcast being read off of a disc, but it now struggles to run coming off a PlayStation 3’s hard drive.
There is also a stuttering problem that you will notice all the time. I’m not a game developer, nor do I have the ability to program a game at all, but it seems to me SEGA spent all its time to make the game in HD, and its new widescreen aspect ratio. Then, when it came to optimizing the game’s engine, SEGA said screw it, just release it.
My fondest memories of JSR are the soundtrack. I consider Hideki Naganuma’s work for Jet Set Radio to be one of the best soundtracks in modern gaming music. From what I can tell the entire soundtrack is in the game for better (Naganuma’s “Humming The Bassline”) and for worse (Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”). Just like the original, the soundtrack sets the mood for the game and makes Neo Tokyo come alive.
Positive points aside, the controls could have used some work. Skating is good, but lining up the grind is harder than it should be. Too often will you jump from a high place, and try to fall on a grind, but you’ll miss wide left or wide right. Without a dedicated trick button your character will do a trick at the most inopportune time, but these were all problems that many of us were aware of from the prior game.
The camera control is now mapped to the right stick, which is an awesome addition, but you still have to use the left stick while in graffiti mode. It would have been nice to be able to use either stick, but it wouldn’t solve the major problem in the graffiti control.
While you’re actually painting, the controls don’t know if they want to be very loose and forgiving, or tight and punishing. A few times I have been rewarded for putting in the wrong movements, while other times I have punished for doing the correct ones. If you get points even though you did the wrong thing you probably won’t complain, but lose your points for doing the right thing, you’ll be angry enough to throw a controller.
Jet Set Radio HD is basically the same game as Jet Grind Radio was on the Dreamcast. With it being the same game, it’s going to come with the same problems the first one had–plus a few unforeseen new (or perhaps, forgotten) ones. All in all, Jet Set Radio is still a good game. If you love everything Dreamcast as I do, then this is a must own. If you never played JSR, and are willing to excuse a few problems, you’ll find a lot of fun in this HD remake.
+ Game still looks good
+ Soundtrack hasn’t changed much from the original
– Framerate and stuttering issues
– Controls could have used a little work.