Jet Set Radio Future holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts. The quirky skater-platformer-graffitier came to mass attention quietly tucked away on a double game disc with SEGA GT 2002, bundled exclusively with Microsoft’s first Xbox.
Early on, the reliance of the Xbox’s sales on Halo had become increasingly apparent, so Microsoft quickly stepped in and exercised some corporate muscle to take advantage of the decline of SEGA to secure Xbox releases from one of the most recognisable brands in videogaming. The releases of Jet Set Radio Future and Sega GT 2002 were the first fruits of this, both previously intended for the Dreamcast. Around the time of its launch, though, much was made of the Xbox’s technical specifications, and how this granted it superiority over its rival, the Playstation 2. How then would games that were essentially unchanged from their intended previous generation platform work on this gaming behemoth?
…its imaginative premise of a dystopian future-Tokyo rife with skater gangs fighting for turf…
Jet Set Radio Future is arguably one of the most visually arresting and complete games created; its vibrancy and creativity of design overshadow many next generation games with their ”fifty shades of brown” palette. This colourful vision complements perfectly its imaginative premise of a dystopian future-Tokyo rife with skater gangs fighting for turf. It isn’t just the manga styled world that grabs attention, however, it’s the radio. In the same way Grand Theft Auto: Vice City sweeps you up into the cocaine and sunshine fuelled world of Miami in the 80s, the eclectic funk of the Jet Set Radio Future’s soundtrack plays just like Tokyo in 2024 should. Boasting a range of artists from renowned videogame soundtrack creator, Hideki Naganuma, to two Beastie Boys side projects, the music is a source of constant joy: always keeping perfect time with the game’s happenings and your own explorations.
In some quarters, Jet Set Radio Future was accused of being a bit too easy to breeze through and not offering enough of a challenge, but this criticism almost completely misses the point of the game. The simplicity of design present allows the imagination of the developers to really take hold: present in the bustling environs Shibuya Terminal or in the crazed rival skater gangs you battle with. By allowing the speed (and success) of your grinding to be governed by rhythmic presses of a single button, the game at its core rewards concentration and immersion, allowing the game’s subtler mechanics to manifest themselves in the numerous side quests.
…incredibly vast and painstakingly realised…
The Tokyo of Jet Set Radio Future is incredibly vast and painstakingly realised, shown through the sheer number of unlockables on offer for the gamer who wants a challenge. These range from characters to graffiti patterns (which you can even design yourself), providing hours and even days of compulsive exploration that encourages you – that is if you needed any more encouragement to spend more time in this electrifying world.
Picking up this cult gem costs around £10 second hand; though you might be able to grab it in double disc form for a snip on eBay. Additionally, if you like the sound of it, but aren’t too fussed about scouting a copy, a high definition port of the previous instalment Jet Set Radio will be making its way on Xbox 360 Marketplace, and PSN and Steam later in the summer. There really are few better ways to while away the time waiting for the clouds to finally part and reveal the English summer than spending some time in Jet Set Radio Future’s neo-Tokyo.