Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gaming Treasures - Jet Set Radio Rewind

Part 1 - The beginning (and the insanity)

Jet Set Radio
Dreamcast – 1999 / 2000

Just Push Play -From the start players are introduced to the world of JSR by DJ Professor K. What we know from the intro is that rebel taggers graze the city with their artworks. These spread the word of who owns what turf, and the gang that brings order or disorder to the streets.

Back when this game was barely out in stores, it was already hitting issues. For one, the addition of graffiti being used as in-game mechanic to let players be creative and guide their gang to the top. But the thing was unparalleled by the music, and the game’s art style. Unlike any other, has art come to life, and given funky grooves to take game design to another level.

Fast forward – Well guess what, it’s been twelve years. Things have changed, games and televisions are in high definition, analog is gone, hail to digital. By far the biggest difference is that there are very few games that can push gamers buttons. And SEGA is geared up to retread the unfriendly streets of Tokyoto on nextgen hardware. What are the odds that twelve years keeps bringing back the past.

Rewind -Back to the intro, players are guided by allies such as Gum (a pop-ish jet setter who looks like she came out of a clothing store), and Tab (just a grungy character that challenges you to master some funky grinds and spraying). The biggest twist is that there is no main character, although you are sent on a mission as an entire gang. The GG’s are on a conquest to spray the town in some new colors. Leaving a message that this city is there’s!

Visual Tease -Another sweet feature that caught many off guard, was the in-game engine. Being entirely created in Adobe Shockwave Flash, it was manipulated to push the Dreamcast to deliver unique graphics. Closely enough, it resembled a comic book (or manga) brought to life. With vicious colors, and drawing style that made it vibrant with tons of colors, and taking players on the wildest journey ever ventured.

Visual Tease JSR HD – SEGA has been teasing gamers with the addition of the game being displayed in HD. (JSRF for the XBOX came with the feature intact and displayed solid visuals) Many fans who played this title on their standard definition televisions remember those moments, and can never forget those lit nights around the town, and the insane gleams of sunlight while getting away from a certain captain and his SWAT team.

Beats -What made JSR an impressive title was the collection of sounds that resided within its soundtrack. From drum n’ bass, rock, dance, funk, and electronica. Even more captivating is that the soundtrack was collected from all over the world, some bands from the States, and several overseas such as Europe and Asia. Another interesting feature was that the music playlist was actually mixed by actual DJ’s. Depending on how well you are gaining points by doing tricks, the BGM track will actually shift into one another. So whenever you get into a session of JSR, the music will stay fresh.

Beats - JSR HD – The only issue with the re-release of the title, is the actual loss of being able to bring over the entire OST to nextgen consoles. Keep in mind its been twelve years since the original JSR was on the Dreamcast. So its possible they may have to track down an entirely new sound, and re-tweak the in-game mixing engine to be compatible. Or for more fun, it could be possible to change up an entire playlist of your own (maybe a digital DJ feature?)

You’ve got soul! Brother! -
Within the world of Jet Set Radio resided various graffiti tags that could be collected. These artworks were made by real artists that helped with the development of the game. Thankfully for those with issues, there is a handy intro before the game starts that delivers a message on what this game is about. That fluff aside, being able to manipulate art within a game like this is a leap never taken this far. During the release, there was an online campaign where players across the world could create their own tags and upload them to share with friends. (How many games offer such an option anymore?) JSR HD may hopefully continue this tradition, and offer a new paradigm to a different generation that missed this insane trip the first time.

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