Jet Set Radio goes mobile, fittingly enough

Jet Set Radio is still ahead of its time, 12 years later.

(Credit: Sega of America)

Jet Set Radio, the cult classic Dreamcast title from 2000, is now available for iOS and Android, following its HD rerelease on PSN, XBLA, and Windows.

Easily one of the most creative, as well as subversive, video games ever conceived, gameplay consists mainly of "grinding" (aggressive inline skating) across a colorful neo-Tokyo, tagging walls, and recruiting new members, who then become playable characters, to your gang, the GGs -- all while while evading police, rival gangs, and listening to the pirate radio station from whence the game gets its name, hosted by DJ Proooooofesssoooooor KKKKKKKKKKKK.

Jet Set Radio was the very first game to utilize cel shading, a distinctive type of type of 3D model rendering that gives objects in the game a comic book or cartoonish flair. The aesthetic of the game was ahead of its time in 2000, and still looks fresh today. Another benchmark for the title was its eclectic soundtrack of licensed music by real musicians, such as Jurassic 5 and Rob Zombie. The sound of the game all around has well withstood the test of time. Personal favorite tunes of mine are "Funky Radio" by B.B. Rights and "Miller Ball Breakers" by Deavid Soul.

The Android port I played is not a perfect translation of the Dreamcast experience, though. The controls will frustrate even seasoned players who were already familiar with the mechanics from having played the game when it was originally released. It's no fault of Sega or the title, but simply put, the touch screen is a poor substitute for the Dreamcast's analog joystick. I didn't test on a phone, but I imagine the controls only being that much trickier on smaller screens. I also noticed some rendering issues while playing. Certain graffiti pieces would appear as garbled blueish bars when seen at a distance, and I don't remember the slide in the center of the Shibuya-Cho map seemingly having its own cloaking device, disappearing and reappearing at will, as it did when I played on an Asus Transformer tablet. And looking at the reviews online, it seems many would-be players are having a hard time getting the game to run at all, so buyer beware. 5 and 1-star reviews are just about split evenly at the time of writing.

You will need 1.3GB of free memory, and playing made short work of my battery life, but if you can get the game running smoothly, the imperfections in the mobile port of this near-perfect game are minor, and if it's your first time playing Jet Set Radio, I envy you indeed. At $4.99 in the Google Play store, it's a steal for one of the funnest, most imaginative video games of all-time. In fact, it was one of 12 Dreamcast games selected for the Smithsonian's The Art of Video Games exhibit. So give this one an install, and get up wildstyle, because it's all about the radio!

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