Jet Set Radio Future
released on Feb 22, 2002
Jet Set Radio Future is a video game developed by Smilebit and is the sequel to Jet Set Radio. Similar to the original, it depicts a future Tokyo where freedom of expression is outlawed. The user plays a character in the GG's, a gang of in-line skating graffiti artists who skate around Tokyo covering up rival gangs' graffiti, knocking over Rokkaku police, and dancing to the electric soundtrack. The game uses a cel-shaded style of animation, and has been widely acclaimed for its unique music style, detailed art, and gameplay. Though the game is set in the future, its style and content incorporates many aspects of 1980's old school hip hop culture, as well as 1990's J-pop culture.
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I’ll be honest the look of this game carries a lot, the physics are a little weird to use when platoforming but the feeling of grinding on rails is fun
Honestly prefer the more bite-sized nature of the first game, but this one improves a fair bit on it's predecessor in other ways. Namely the tagging not being as tedious. That being said a few areas in the game are pretty annoying in their own right (namely the sewers) and they nerfed Cube so...
probably the coolest shit ever made when you think about it
sick as hell, and you know i sat my zoomer ass down and listened when this 20 year old game insisted that it was the future. but the whole time i was thinking about how i spent my 2020 seeing this game's composer tweet about funky femboys, and this dj professor k rp account that was warning people not to get vaccinated, in character. i think hes still going. people were @ing him going JET SET RATIOOO.
this is to say that the actual future just confuses me. but the game itself makes it clear it's not about the future future anyway. just what we choose to do to shape it. im taking that as another reminder to be less online.
i spent all my teen years listening to cibo matto (still lives in my heart) thanks to jsrf, even though i wasnt able to actually play it back then. it simply looked like the coolest shit, and id enjoyed the first game too. having finally played it in 2023, as an adult, was a bit anticlimactic for no particular reason? - it's everything i expected. it's the sequel to jsr, it's bigger, badder, but still a fun little thing about skating around tagging shit to funky music. all those songs id heard thousands of times, finally sounding off with full context. neat mini dj mixes for each chapter. it really did end up being the coolest shit.
fuck exclusives lol. theres some irony in no one being able to play a game all about the undying rebellious spirit because they dont happen to own a 2 decade old slab of plastic with a particular brand stamped on it. my uncle had an xbox but he wasnt cool enough to carry this game. unfortunate. and this shit still carries itself more like the dreamcast than it does xbox anyway. wheres the french guy on twitter begging #BreakFreeJSRF.
it's cool that video games can affect us even when we've yet to play them. jsrf ended up being as important to me as a lot of games i actually played growing up. always the game i was going to play one day, always that game in the future. and when the future finally came, there was that satisfaction of seeing all these disparate things id absorbed by osmosis, allowed to move and flow together for the first time. theres that song i spent so many years listening to. those character designs id adored from afar. that refinement upon the first game everyone would go on about. i still lost my mind a bit in the sewer level, as you do, but it was all in good fun.
ultimately id have liked to vibe to it all as the 14 year old spacing off to Skate 2, and not the 24 year old with nothing going on. but this works too.
JSRF is a pretty substantial step up over it's predecessor, but I unfortunately still had a number of issues with it.
To start with the positives (which there are plenty of), it controls pretty well, and a lot of the level design can be pretty varied and challenging, with a lot of cool platforming sequences and interesting gimmicks. The presentation is an obvious plus, and is basically the whole reason these games are even remembered. Visually it hasn't aged a day, the lighting is excellent on top of a great sense of style and character design that just oozes "cool." The music is consistently great as well, but that probably goes without saying.
Now for some stuff I liked less. A good handful of levels are a pain to play through. The skyscraper district is convoluted and falling often results in getting sent very far backwards. The bosses are often tedious, and combat feels clunky. There's a lot of particular moments that just don't make a lot of sense or get in the way of the game's sense of flow.
Overall, this is a tightly paced, fun game with excellent presentation and personality. While some moments can be pretty annoying, the good elements are more than enough to outweigh the negatives.