Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hip-Hop Video Games: Jet Set Radio Series

Does anyone remember this game?

Jet Set Radio (known in the U.S. as Jet Grind Radio) came out in the summer of 2000. It was a game where you were given the power to tag a city up. Rolling on jet-powered skates
and blasting headphones, your character backpacked as many cans of spray paint as he or she could in order to make a street rep in the city of Tokyo-to.

Its linage to the real tagging experience was cool, plus it had a soundtrack that any hip-hop head would appreciate. Featuring hip-hop group Jurassic Five and DJ Mixmaster Ice, the game gets some hip-hop cool points from me. What also gives this game more hip-hop credibility is how well-connected the plot was to the actual culture of graffiti. The graphics for the game itself were on point, and the artwork used to cover the city was pretty decent. You could tell the developers of this game did their homework.

My only problem with the game was that it was a bit too easy. One click here, one click there, and voila, you've just went wildstyle! Plus, the characters weren't very personable -- in fact they were pre-packaged. Graffiti is all about personalization, and this game wasn't cutting it at all, from the characters to the tags.

At least until Jet Set Radio Future came. Released in the beginning of 2002 for the XBox, this game suddenly went on mega-steroids. The plot fast-forwards into 2024 -- although the characters looked the same -- and the "new" characters carry on the tradition of tagging Tokyo-to with the finest artwork.

The only difference is the police have beefed up their arsenal, which makes it tougher to tag when drama awaits. And the game is especially tougher with the additions of controls on the Xbox controllers versus the old Dreamcast controllers, making you focus on the strokes, the timing and the size. The graphics were much better, plus you got to make your own tags AND use them in the game (because its nothing like seeing you own tags on the TV screen)!

To keep all things hip-hop on this blog, the soundtrack for this game wasn't as good as the first one; it was just too techno for me. But I would still enjoy this game because there's seriously nothing like seeing your own tags (although you would probably never do it in real life) on the TV screen.

1 comment:

  1. I love this game and I think the soundtrack to it is awesome. Being a female gamer, whose versatile for the most part on her likes for music. I find Jet Grind Radio much, much tougher than Jet Set Radio Future. but when it comes down to which title I prefer playing more, it's Jet Set Radio Future hands down. the game play is EXCELLENT in my book. and plus the music is catchy, which I look for in a game.