Can easily draw you in

by Shane Dillon
Jet Set Radio

This being so, many an aging gamer will join me in wiping away tears of nostalgia over Sega’s missed Dreamcast console – the cube-shaped bundle of joy that passed away before its time, given its underwhelming support by developers and publishers.

One of the DC’s most notable and lauded titles was Jet Set Radio; a fun and funky cel-shaded title that (local councillors and Tidy Towns groups may wish to look away now) saw players racing around a busy cityscape, tagging areas with their graffiti to mark their turf over rival gangs’, while avoiding the police who’d eventually show up.

Having travelled the world and seen such things everywhere, I’ve seen how there’s an enormous difference between graffiti (the blight of a thousand estates around Dublin, and the world) and street art (mocking society, making political jokes, and so on) – but, here, it’s pretty much just graffiti played for laughs, as an attempt to inject some fun and colour back into an increasingly dull cityscape.

As another in the cool trend of digital remakes, Jet Set Radio HD sees the old title picked up, dusted off, and available for digital download for both XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 (prices vary), giving modern gamers the chance to play a stylish gaming classic.

Players choose from a number of characters, with many more available throughout the game, to skate around a number of colourful Tokyo districts, with each character having their own strengths and weaknesses.

In each open area, the player has to tag their mark over rival gangs’, collecting spray cans and avoiding the interests of the police, while trying to add to their score by grinding and performing tricks on the many conveniently-placed railings, steps, bars and other such grind-friendly surfaces.

And that’s pretty much it – there’s nothing about avenging family wrongs, saving the world or murky cover-ups, here – just fun gameplay, racing around, spraying tags, completing challenges and collecting characters.

Of course, I hate seeing graffiti in real life – meaningless scrawls are ugly to see, in any city of the world – but, here, there’s a lot of fun in adding some slapdash colour to Tokyo, with the slightly anarchic gameplay just as engaging as ever.

Here’s hoping that the remake of Dreamcast classics continues (Skies of Arcadia next, please).

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