Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Jet Set Radio

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre Image         When the now seemingly obvious press statement declaring that a Jet Set Radio title, one of Sega’s newest popular franchises, would be released for the Game Boy Advance was announced, I didn’t know what to think. The DreamCast and Xbox renditions of the title have been, in my opinion, close to flawless, and like the fear-inspired thoughts generated by news of the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater II conversion, I gasped and wondered how they intended on delivering the package to Game Boy Advance players. Later, it was disclosed that those responsible for the aforementioned Game Boy Advance Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater II outing, Vicarious Visions, would be working with Sega to bring Jet Set Radio to the Game Boy Advance masses, I was at ease. 

           I truly believed that, after the amazement I experienced at the pure gaming pleasure to be had by the Game Boy Advance release of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater II, to this day my favourite in the Tony Hawk’s series, Vicarious Visions could more than handle the conversion, and bring with it the blissfully well constructed and pleasing gameplay that Jet Set Radio has become known for.

            Release day arrived. Having had my pre-order in some months before I was pretty sure I’d be getting a copy. The game arrived on my doorstep in its simple brown package, immediate wrestling with parcel tape and brown paper began, open the box, in it goes.                

            The game plays in a very similar way to Vicarious’ previous skating conversion, a top-down isometric view with your skater as centre piece. The levels are mapped out as a training level, followed by a level or two of graffiti missions. Completing each of the training levels, followed by the missions unlocks a new character. Jump, grind, trick and paint-this is the bit that differs. The usual Tony Hawk’s list of missions to complete, scores to beat or items to collect is noticeable in its absence. The idea here is not to achieve the title of “Best Skater in the Universe, Ever, 2004” or anything, but simply to skate to one of the highlighted destinations and spray some graffiti. When arriving at said location, an arrow will reveal where it is you need to spray. The areas may require a single spray, or a more complex chain of follow-the-arrows-with-your-directional-pad, to add a little variety.

             The action is beefed up a little with the introduction of Police. There are units which patrol the area, chasing you rather ineffectively and will only cause a minor distraction. Then, there are the tougher guards. These are bigger, meaner and patrol as individuals. They hunt you down and try to back you into a corner, finally adding a nice bit of spice to the mix.

             The titles graphics are for the best part splendid. They more than complete the job they are required to in the pseudo-3D-cel-shaded formula that’s becoming quite common on current handheld systems. The sound is, unfortunately, average Game Boy Advance material, with none of the class that made the original so unique.

             The series has, unfortunately, made a great mistake; an average game with an incredibly poor learning curve and tedious training levels. The title seems to be running on the same engine as, you guessed it, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater II, and although I currently have no proof of this, I have seen nothing to disprove it either. I don’t like to think of Sega falling into the field of quick-and-easy Game Boy Advance ports to make a quick buck, especially considering the amount of original work they have developed for the system, but I can see no other reason for such a poor title receiving a release.




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