Nope/ Slightly / Some of them / Get out of here!
I’ve always been a skater regardless of the years: played lot of Tony Hawk games on the mornings, and went to roll at some skate parks in the afternoon. Despite using prepared places for skating, the idea of using buildings as interactive spots has always attracted me, but I’ve never been fond of getting in trouble. Speaking of it, graffiters were those ready to start running away when the police would show. Therefore, a lot of games tried to get this rebel feeling on their products, but Jet Set Radio was one of the few which achieved it, resulting in a dynamic, cell shaded, punky title.
But the original is from the year 2000
Despite time has passed by and we already have the HD version, the game is still kicking! It has ended being an iconic title which a lot of self expression. But in a solid intent of developing my thoughts about the title, I’ll split Jet set radio in three main aspects.
The graphics: cell shading shines brightly, giving Jet Set Radio a cartoon, anime characteristic style. It achieves the feeling of immersion, watching out for the police rage and (sometimes) feeling sorry for the duplicated citizens who we push out of the way. However, is one of the strongest points here. This unique design pleases the eye, rising up the motivation to start riding.
The controls: surely the aspect with fewer points. The movement mechanics are smoothly focused, but don’t achieve exactly what are aiming for. Controls are uncomfortable, and the level design of some maps make the playthrough even worse (like using the stairs too much, for example). Collisions tend to be imperfect, and when grinding or jumping around the city the rollers have some kind of magnet which makes weird to ride walls and fences. Feels like the player is inserted in the wall, not grinding it. When the speed is constant, however, the gameplay gets smoother and skill plays a big role too.
The soundtrack and message: riding the city with a groovy, funk soundtrack while being chased by the forces of authority is a defiance against those who control the city. People with money might believe they own everything by controlling taxes, the inhabitants or the money they get. However, they don’t count on the riders who don’t give a damn about it, expressing their uncomformity by painting walls. This is even reinforced with details like “Burguer Queen” signboards around the city. But, after so much struggling to escape from the police, there’s yet one remaining question:
What are we painting for?
Further from dethroning rival gangs and ‘owning’ their territories, everything has always a deeper purpose. In the anime Samurai Champloo Mugen meets an alcoholic, retired teacher who shows him the power of words, and the rebel samurai ends creating the infinite symbol to define himself, painting it in the very top of a Shogun castle.
Sprays can be both weapons and tools for art making. Spreading graffitis along the buildings is a free expression way, but also the previous said challenge. From my point of view Jet Set Radio is about defying the capitalism before turning into one of its gears. You might noticed all the characters are young, this could be because in this stage of life no damns are given about the system: it’s all about achieving to finish that special graffiti in the middle of the park and in front of the police station. To fuel the young spirit, and never stop fighting against the system. Of course Jet Set Radio maybe provokes a bit of vandalism, but we’re quite mature around here, aren’t we?
In some kind of conclusion, I would point out that the game is awesome, and offers that juicy experience only old school titles were able to offer (remember when there were no checkpoints in missions? ) plus some epic nostalgia that sagas like Tony Hawk gave to us.