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E3 2012: Jet Set Radio (Hands-on)

Posted by: Matt at 6/11/2012 5:00 PM
If gamers have nostalgia for anything from the Dreamcast days, it's Jet Set Radio, and news of the HD rerelease has been met with nothing but enthusiasm. It was all the more evident at E3 last week with long lines to play the game on the few Vita display units available at the Sega and Sony booths. It was difficult to tear myself away from the three stage demo that took me back in a way that only nostalgia can. It was also nice to see that the game still holds up well after all these years, and that soundtrack is still as great as I remember.

Jet Set Radio looks great on the Vita screen, the colors jump right off and the new HD textures look good. Add to that a good set of headphones and you've got a pretty definitive setup to enjoy this game as that soundtrack is every bit as good as I recall. The controls remain largely unchanged from the old Dreamcast controls, except now the camera can be adjusted with the Vita's right analog stick. The game is still as challenging as I remember as well, with the Poison Jam stage being loaded with annoying helicopters and the police chief firing off bullets whenever I got in to a range. A little extreme approach to taking down taggers wouldn't you say?

The demo also had the create-a-tag feature available, allowing aspiring artists to make their own custom tags, but people behind me were getting a little impatient so I didn't subject them to my terrible art skills. I also took a moment to scroll through the soundtrack just so I could find Rob Zombie's "Dragula" and be reminded that this song was in almost every game released in the late 90's. At this point the line behind me was getting quite long, so why not share in the joy and let someone else play. 

It's a couple of months before the release of Jet Set Radio, but it's looking like it's a faithful HD upgrade. This is one of the best games that Sega had in its stable back when it was more acceptable to take risks in this industry. I think rereleasing this game is a new kind of risk, one that I'll be happy to invest in when the game comes out later this year.