Jet Set Radio Future

Understand the concept of Love

Source // YouTube

After a lengthy break from the PC and video gaming in general, the first game back can sometimes feel a little weird, so it's a nice coincidence that I'm picking up the 1001 list at a sequel that looks to do exactly the same as its first title did. I should have no trouble at all getting a game of Jet Set Radio Future going.



Part of my lengthy break was the first holiday of the year, but once back and ready to get going again, I decided I couldn't continue until I had bought a hard drive for my Xbox 360, mostly so that I can actually play these backwards compatible Xbox titles, but I'm sure having any amount of space larger than 4 gigabytes will come in handy later on.

After ordering a second-hand hard drive online because I literally couldn't be bothered to walk to the shops and get one there and then, I waited for the postman to deliver it. I played Grand Theft Auto V for the first time in five or so years. I could have started No Man's Sky for the fifth time, in VR no less, but that's a problem I'll face at some other point in time. I played a bunch of little games, but they were just to fill five minutes of boredom. I was bored a lot.

I remembered about how I couldn't play Halo: Combat Evolved because of the lack of a hard drive and thought about whether I should play that after Jet Set Radio Future. Oh, yeah. Jet Set Radio Future. I suppose I should play that.

Hard drive delivered, it was another day before I was in the mood to install it, at which point I discovered a whole bus-load of profile data and downloads that hadn't been removed. There wasn't much to snoop through, but I want a clean slate so everything will need to be-- huh. My 360 just turned itself off.

It restarted into 640x480 if memory serves, and I squinted my way through to the display settings before it shut off again. Can hard drives do this? I managed to change the display settings on the second attempt, but it shut down once more straight afterwards. What's going on?

Troubleshooting lead me to check the power brick and turning it around to see the status light revealed no apparent problems. Cables were in, ventilation was fine, the 360 was turned on for the fourth time... where it stayed on. Huh.

It allowed me to gut the hard drive and transfer my stuff and played quite normally from then on. Everything responded, sounded right, looked good. Which would surely mean the next thing to go wrong would go wrong - playing Jet Set Radio Future.

Source // Hardcore Gaming 101

Fun Times

It didn't. JSRF booted fine. I was playing an Xbox game on an Xbox 360. What a world we live in.

What, then, is new for the future of Jet Set Radio? The cel-shaded look returns, the eclectic music blares on and on, and DJ Professor K's pirate radio still hasn't been discovered, but his hair is now as white as his old shirt, and his shirt is as black as his old hair. Was his old hair black? I think it was.

Source // Moby Games

Further Frustrations

I have time to ask these questions because JSRF starts off with a slog of a tutorial where nobody voices their lines, and everyone is trying to sound cool. I hate the writing already, and soon enough I hate the controls.

In Jet Set Radio, I struggled to get to grips with the physics. You were heavy and yet floaty, and any sort of precision was a hassle to get right. Perhaps that's why you snap to everything you can grind on, and then refuse to fall off.

Source // Hardcore Gaming 101

I bumped into a pole in the tutorial hub world and my character zapped up it, and along the wires it was holding aloft. JSRF was playing itself, so long as I pointed towards something of note.

Determined to get out into the game itself, I bumbled my way through to a street in need of tagging. The plot involves some shady guy slowly taking over the government and erasing culture through his draconian laws, and the only way to get back at him is to go and graffiti the streets. Obviously.

Source // Hardcore Gaming 101

This time, spraying your tag on a wall involves getting close enough to said wall with enough spray cans and holding the right trigger for the shortest of seconds. The whole process happened before I was able to register it even taking place. The camera whipped around and there it was, a humongous tag written in an indecipherable script.

Where did the stick waggling go? Has Future scrapped one of the standout mechanics of Jet Set Radio for the sake of speeding the game up, to potentially attract more players? Is standing in front of a wall and taking the time to paint some graffiti too dull in the future? Must everything be tagged at twenty miles an hour as you blitz past your spot?

It is an utterly ridiculous alteration to the way things were, and while JSRF still looks, feels, and sounds like Jet Set Radio, it has lost something along the way, and for what?

Source // Hardcore Gaming 101

Further Fun Times

To pick positives out of a game that I really don't like, this sequel does look pretty good. There's a boost feature where you burn your spray cans and fire yourself forward for a short while, and its accompanied by a filter that is either broken on the 360 or was always designed to look weird. Thankfully, you don't tend to get up to much when boosting, and with the computer all too happy to snap you into grinds, it's not like you need to see the exact point you're heading towards to line anything up.

You can smash through a shopping district full of pedestrians all scattering out of your way. That'd look good if it weren't for the slight slowdown when it was all kicking off, but hey, it brings a bit of life to these weird environments.

Final Word

The game is styled like nothing else, save for the original Jet Set Radio, and continues doing what that first game did. The problem it faced is that audiences continued doing what they did too - ignore it in favour of anything else. Some 30,000 sales, the 1001 list tells me.

Hidden gems are great. Games don't have to sell millions of copies to be must-play titles, but JSRF... it's just not a must-play.

Granted, I didn't play a whole lot of it before getting bored and abandoning it, but I didn't feel anything different from my time with Jet Set Radio. Actually, no, I felt worse for there being no spraypainting minigame, as cumbersome as it might have been.

Why must both titles be on the list? One, I can understand, so which one Jet Set Radio title sums up the series? The first for laying the groundwork? This one for the sake of it being the sequel that probably fine-tuned the controls and whatnot? What does it add? What does it do differently? What is the difference that warrants a play?

There has to be something I'm missing here, but it'll need to be really impressive to get me back into Jet Set Radio Future. It just doesn't wow me. I don't care about the GG's, and whatever corrupt government they find themselves rebelling against. I still don't dig the music enough to want to hear hours and hours of it. It's not bad, again, but it's not sweeping me away either.

If ever you wanted more of the same, Jet Set Radio Future has you covered. For anything else it offers, I'm not the one to tell you about it. I haven't a clue. Why is it here? Who is it for? Don't look at me.

Fun Facts

JSRF was awarded the title of 'Most Unfairly Ignored Game' by the Official Xbox Magazine UK.

Jet Set Radio Future, developed by Smilebit, first released in 2002.
Version played: Sega GT 2002/Jet Set Radio Future, Xbox, 2002, via Xbox 360 backwards compatibility.