Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | PC | PS4 | PS5 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | XSX | All

Jet Set Radio (PlayStation 3) artwork

Jet Set Radio (PlayStation 3) review

"I would love to love you, Jet Set Radio."

Itís really a shame that so many early Dreamcast games have aged so poorly.

Itís especially tragic in this case because Jet Set Radio is so great and so unique in so many ways. Jet Set Radio (formerly Jet Grind Radio in North America) takes place in the city of Tokyo-To. ďRudiesĒ are teenagers who like to skate around the city and spray graffiti as a means of expressing themselves. You play as one of these rudies, leaving your mark on the city while covering the work of rival rudie gangs. Naturally, all of this is against the law, and the police force isnít going to let you vandalize the city without putting up a fight. The more you paint, the more cops show up. Itís more of a platformer than an extreme sports game, which separates it from other skating games from the era like Tony Hawkís Pro Skater.

Graphically, Jet Set Radio still looks great. As a member of the cel shading old guard, the game has aged very well, visually. Animations are a little odd sometimes and the character models could probably use a few more polygons, but otherwise Jet Set Radio still looks fabulous. The words ďbright and colourfulĒ take on a whole new meaning here. Everything pops as nicely as it did way back in Dreamcast days. Levels have lots of little details and, with the notable exception of DJ Professor K, characters have tons of charm. Itís simply a beautiful game to look at.

Itís a great game to listen to, as well. The soundtrack remains one of the highlights of the game, with infectious jpop, funk, hip-hop, electronica, and a host of other genres represented. With a mix of original and licensed songs, there was some concern that Jet Set Radioís soundtrack would be as butchered as that of the HD port of Crazy Taxi. Thankfully, thatís not the case, and only one or two songs are missing. I wouldnít blame anyone for playing Jet Set Radio for the soundtrack alone.

Jet Set Radio is an incredibly pleasant game to watch. Itís a shame itís actually kind of frustrating to play.

For starters, characters donít control very naturally. (The horrible tutorial mode doesnít help with this. Seriously, ignore the tutorial option on the main menu and just read the instructions.) Character movement feels stiff, as though you never have the appropriate amount of control for the situation. Jumping from rail to rail is infuriating thanks to the gameís refusal to assist you. (Thereís no such thing as ďclose enough.Ē) Skating games have come a long way, and Jet Set Radio felt awkward even at launch. Time has done it no favours in this regard. Combine this with the waves of police officers that show up in every level and you have a recipe for frustration. Sometimes it feels like the game would be more fun if there was a cheat code to disable the cops entirely. The controls are enough of an obstacle even before teargas is thrown into the mix.

This new version comes with an added ďbonusĒ of occasional hanging, which appears to have something to do with loading radio messages and spawning cops. This is one annoying quirk that is unforgivable. Itís one thing to have awkward controls. Itís another thing to occasionally interrupt the flow of the game thanks to random moments of lag. These moments will completely screw you over multiple times per level. If they happen during a jump, prepare to completely miss your target. If they happen while youíre spraying graffiti, you will drop your combo and thereís nothing you can do about it.

The lag desperately needs a patch, and itís sad, because Jet Set Radio HD is a pretty good port otherwise. The camera has always been kind of a problem in this game, but the addition of a second stick makes a difference. (It still has a tendency to point at walls for no reason, but itís not as bad as it was.) The new support for widescreen helps the game look even better. Thereís even a little bit of new content in the form of user created graffiti patterns (which were entries in a contest) and a short documentary about the development of the original game.

Jet Set Radio is a game of high highs and low lows. If you appreciate style enough to forgive the accompanying clunkiness, Jet Set Radio (at least the Dreamcast version) is worth experiencing just for that. It has tons of personality and a great aesthetic, and itís a pleasant experience even when youíre missing jumps and being beaten with nightsticks. Some of the flaws (like the controls) are somewhat forgivable as a product of their time. However, the newly added problem of the game randomly hanging is too much. Hopefully this issue will be fixed, and if it is, Jet Set Radio will be a worthwhile purchase for anyone who loves style and can forgive the questionable gameplay enough to appreciate it. In its current state, I canít recommend this version of the game. Give the Dreamcast version a try instead.

Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (September 18, 2012)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

More Reviews by Rhody Tobin [+]
Destiny 2: Forsaken (PlayStation 4) artwork
Hand of Fate 2 (PlayStation 4) artwork
Hand of Fate 2 (PlayStation 4)

You play the hand you're dealt.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PlayStation 4) artwork
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PlayStation 4)

16 angry teens and 6 bears. (ʳ īļ㉨ϟ)ʳ


If you enjoyed this Jet Set Radio review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

board icon
dementedhut posted September 18, 2012:

And here I thought I was alone in thinking the game was irritating as hell because of its crappy controls! That's one of the main reasons I prefer Jet Set Radio Future instead, despite its own flaws. It's unfortunate they haven't fixed this in the port, and this lag stuff sounds pretty bad. What a shame. Though, I myself wouldn't recommend anyone to play the Dreamcast original, especially with that horrible controller.

Good review! It answered questions I was really curious about.

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998 - 2022 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Jet Set Radio is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Jet Set Radio, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.