Release Date: 2/25/2002
Available Exclusively On
The Good: Beautiful visuals, stunning soundtrack, quick and easy to play
The Bad: Impossible camera, no trick system, stupid story, very monotonous, you can beat the game in less than 5 hours
I remember hearing all about Jet Grind Radio back in the day when I only dreamed of owning a Dreamcast. About 6 years later I pick up JSRF off eBay for $2 and well…you get what you pay for. I expected a lot more of this game, but really it’s just repetitive with a horrendous camera, lame story, and a few others odds and ends.
The story is almost non-existent where you have to stop the Poison Claw gang from taking over the city and you basically go through the city covering their tags with yours and racing them here and there. That’s really all there is story side and it’s a huge letdown. I found the best thing here were the visuals and audio. The game has beautiful cel-shaded graphics with a rich hip and techno drove soundtrack. When it comes to game play things are very simple and derivative. Each section has a certain amount of tags you have to cover and you do this by grinding around places and covering them up. You have to pick up spray cans lying around everyone to do this though. Blue ones are worth ten and yellow ones are worth one. Once you cover all the tags you have to meet the Poison Claw gang and challenge them to a race. These are really easy and only require a little trial and error. The tags are fairly easy to locate thanks to them being dotted on your map.
I found the levels to be a bit claustrophobic though since you characters can defy gravity and jump 50 feet so you’d miss your line on the building and fall all the way down. This leads into the terrible camera which you CAN’T control and never stays behind the character. You always have to make circles and use the reset camera button. This ruins a lot of the game because you’ll climb all the way to the top of a high tower and then fall all the way down and have to climb the top again because you couldn’t see that open ledge. So, this is the basic concept of how you play the game it’s just grind here, tag here, fight camera here, watch dorky Japanese characters dance around, rinse and repeat. Don’t get me wrong this game is pretty good, but the game is just too monotonous and the camera ruins everything. Sometimes the police will be after you so you knock them down and spray paint them to death, some are too strong to knock down so you “boost” into them.
You’re probably asking where is the trick system? Well, there isn’t one. The game relies on a few moves while grinding by hitting the X button and maybe a backflip here and there when you jump and that’s about it. You do hand plants in half pipes, but when you jump tricks are automatically done, and there are maybe a handful of tricks. After maybe 2-3 hours of playing you’ll get bored and irritated with the game so much, you’ll stop playing (like I did). I got maybe 90% through the game and just stopped playing because it was too annoying and repetitive.
The game was really great back in the day because of the amazing graphical style, but I think Sega concentrated too much on that. The game has some serious slowdown on the Xbox 360 and makes the game almost unplayable in certain areas. There really isn’t much in sound just a grinding sound, grunts, moans, whooshing, and crowd sounds when you run into them. I love the visuals Sega, but in the sequel please upgrade the game play.