The Bottom Line: Bow before the mighty Beat, lowly in-line skater scum!
I'll be honest here: During the training mode of Sega's Jet Grind Radio, things weren't looking very good for it. I recieved all of two directions in training mode: Move the analog stick and jump. So I fiddled around the area for 15 minutes or so, awaiting some other instruction, or at least a voice to give me the simplest introduction to the controls, seeing as how buttons x, y, and b weren't doing anything. It soon dawned on me that there would be no other directions, and I thought, "Great, I wasted ten bucks for this? Come on! What's the point of buying an extreme game that does all its tricks for you?".
Dismayed, I began the real game. I got Gum and Tab to join me. Whoo hoo. Then, finally, I got to the real game. It started out simple enough-graffiti here, graffiti there. Then the cops got involved, and all of a sudden I had to plan my graffiti art around them. Then Onishima, a crazy detective with a gun, got involved, and I had to avoid him and the cops. I then thought, "Hey, this isn't so bad.". After completeing the first level, I soon found myself dealing with SWAT, paratroopers, and even helicopters. Now I'm running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, trying to graffiti everything while avoiding bullets, gas, and rockets. Now I'm thinking, Holy shnit, this game is freakin' insane!". All of a sudden, I found I couldn't put the controller down. How was that possible? I mean, just a few minutes ago I reviled this game!
Yet I was loving it. Jet Grind Radio is the most insane, and one of the most insanely fun, games on the planet. As an extreme game, it's right up there with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and in some cases, even better.
The premise is a simple one: collect cans of graffiti and use it to spray the walls, and avoid the law enforcment agencies. The story has something to do with a gang turf war and a giant corporation. Who cares, anyway? Just strap on your in-lines and start spraying everything in sight!
The best part of Jet Grind Radio, obviously, is the incredible gameplay. Since the game revolves around spraying everything you see, Sega decided not to use any kind of complicated trick system. You use all of three buttons throughout your adventures in Tokyo-to: The left trigger, the right trigger, and a. The left trigger is used to mark your turf with graffiti. You have three different sizes of murals: Small, medium, and large. Small ones are simple: Just skate up and spray! For medium and large, though, you not only have to press the button, you have to move the analog stick in response to directions that appear onscreen. The right trigger is used to dash for a limited distance, and button a makes you jump. The faster you go, the higher you jump, jump onto a rail, and you grind it. It's good that the gameplay is so simple, because it makes it easier to run from the cops if you don't have to concentrate on doing a revert-ollie-180 or whatever they call tricks. The game takes care of all the big, impressive looking tricks for you, which is good because it makes you look more skilled than you really are to your friends.
Aren't you just sick of hearing about how great the graphics are? Wouldn't you, just once, be able to read a review of Jet Grind Radio that talked about how much the graphics suck? Go read another review. The graphics are amazing-2d sprites in a 2d world that move in three dimensions. They have the look of an independant comic book, with the odd-colored, tinted levels, and all the characters have a cutout look that goes perfectly with their bright street clothes. The environments all have their own unique color tints that breathe a certain kind of persona into each different one. The camera keeps the worlds in two dimensions by simply switching instead of rotating.
The sounds are perfect for the game. The music is a kind of weird hybrid between several different genres, and most of it is by real artists that I never heard of. It all reflects the kind of street sensibility that Jet Grind Radio conveys. The sound itself is mostly forgettable-you have a few voices here and there, a few gunshots, but when all is said and done, you'll only remember the sounds of commands coming in over the police radio, and the voice of DJ Professor K, who comes in to call the shots between levels.
One of the best things about Jet Grind Radio is that the game has a feature that lets you design your own graffiti tag. So if the Picasso of the family decides the game art isn't worthy of his tremendous talents, you can shut him up by letting him create his own custom tag. And all of this will only take up four blocks of space in your VMU memory card!
Jet Grind Radio is a game of a rare breed these days-it's fun for the sake of being fun. You don't have to think about anything. Just get in, spray, and get out before the the powers that be throw your sorry hide in the can. And being able to buy it for less than ten bucks these days is like getting off of a murder charge even when all the evidence clearly points out your guilt. It's that good.
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About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston (BaronSamedi3)
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial. Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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The government is attempting to silence the kids of Tokyo, but with their Overdrive Magnetic-Motor Skating Shoes, the cops will have to catch 'em first. The Jet Grind Radio program keeps the kids unified and inspired to fight for their rights of expression, which includes graffiti art. Grab your spray cans and design your own piece on one of the immense walls in the 3D, interactive city. You might be forced to protect your territory from adversaries that want to take over your neighborhood. Join up with like-minded hip individuals that will help you keep your area the way you want it. The cops will be after you too, so you'll have to be quick. The 10 cartoon-style characters are pumped up with polygons so they come alive in 3D on Sega Dreamcast. Uniqueness is key to these kids and each character stands apart with exclusive abilities and style. They like to show off too, and with 18 missions, there's plenty of time to impress. It's fast, it's fun, and it's definitely funky.