Fun classic, ruined by game breaking bug.
I really would like to recommend this game. I really would. After all, It's Jet Set Radio. It was one of the classics on the Dreamcast back in the day, and I remember spending hours upon hours playing through this game.
In the very rare chance you don't know what this game is, Jet Set Radio is a fun, simple action game where you skate around with some rather advanced inline skates and cover the somewhat futuristic city of Tokyo-to (not Tokyo, mind you, Tokyo-to, a reimagined version of the more well known Japanese city) with graffiti while avoiding the overly hostile police, using tricks such as grinding on various rails, pipes, and powerlines, sliding on walls, and flipping through the air to avoid being caught (and even spray up your targets in mid trick). The challenge ramps up as the police get even more aggressive, bringing in SWAT teams which use tear gas and machine guns on you, and even missle launching helecopters to end your run. On top of that, some targets you have to spray up take multiple passes, where you need to move your analog stick in various half and full circles in order to complete: the more time you take getting them done, the more of the chance the fuzz will catch up to you. And you also have rival gangs to contend with as well, who at the start of the game are invading your turff and causing you problems here and there. All this is being narrarated by a wild haired DJ by the name of Professor K, who keeps you up to date with what's going on, as well as providing the music you will be listening to during each level via his pirate radio station that gives this game its name. Despite how threatning and oppressive I just made the game sound, the tone and feel is actually rather whimsical and comic, and it comes off more like a light hearted cartoon than a dark egdgy take on urban graffiti culture.
Everything I remembered about it is still here: the bright and colorful cell shaded graphics, the interesting city locations to skate around in, the over the top characters and enemies, the simple way to link up tricks while skating around, the rather cool looking grafitti you can collect as you play, and of course, the fantastic soundtrack, . The fact that it's now im HD is a plus, and the few bonuses they throw in, like some tunes from Jet Set Radio Future, and a documentary, are a nice addition.
This game isn't perfect however, and it's now time to get into the negative things about it. For one thing, the controls haven't aged very well. They can be rather floaty and impressise at times, especially when you are trying to pull off a quick jump off a rail to another one in order to grind away to safety... only to miss for some ridiculous reason and end up falling a long distance and taking damge from that, hitting a wall which cuts short your momentum, forcing you to back up and speed up all over again, costing you time (each level is on a timer, by the way), or getting shot by the cops. Another problem is the camera. This game was made back in 2000, and those who played games back then should remember how much time we spent fighting the evil camera in games. It's not as bad here as other older games of the time, but there are enough moments where the camera spazzes out that will make you grind your teeth. Those two things combined with the ever aggressive police can make the game feel cheap at times. But those things aren't enough to make me hate the game; there's enough good here in the gameplay and setting to offset those problems...
... that is, if the negatives I mentioned were the only things that were wrong.
The main thing which makes me say to stay away from Jet Set Radio is one major bug that for the life of me I can't understand how it made it past quality control: the inability of the game to save your progress. No matter how far you get, if you turn this game off and come back to it later, you WILL be starting from the very beginning again. Even though the game actually has a load function, and it does have a save file that records the last time you played, it doesn't matter: it will still start you at the very beginning, Your progress just doesn't get saved, no matter what you do. This pretty much breaks the game: unless you plan to do a marathon run of it, or keep it on in the background and never turn it or your PC off until you beat it, you're just not getting to the end in one sitting. Jet Set Radio is at least an 8 hour game, and that's just if you're going through the main story without getting any of the extras (such as extra artwork to spray up the city with). I doubt the average person will be willing to go 8 hours nonstop just to see the end.
What adds insult to injury here is that this bug has been present since the game first was offered on Steam... and thw was back in Sept 19, 2012. That's a little over 2 YEARS AGO. How do you have a bug like this remain unfixed for 2 years?? And this is SEGA we're talking about, not some first time independant company that has no experience with putting games out. That Sega would just leave this unresolved for a game that it considers one of it's classics is just beyond me, That Steam would let them get away with it angers me even more. It doesn't matter that the game only costs 5 bucks... I've paid less for other games that were made by developers who had the decency to not sell a broken product.
There is apparently a fix for this... but that entails getting a PIRATED/CRACKED VERSION of the game and switching out the .exe file in your game folder for the cracked one. I'm pretty sure I don't need to get into how that is just all kinds of wrong (not to mention adding more fuel to the fire that is the whole video game piracy debate). Seriously Sega: what the hell??
So no: despite Jet Set Radio being one of those old games that I remember fondly, and despite the fact that I think that it looks and plays fine on the PC, I just can't in good conscience recommend that anyone buy this game. I don't care how cheap it is: you shouldn't have to pay money for what is essencially a broken game. The fact that people out there actually DID recommend it, despite the fact that you CAN'T SAVE THE GAME is appaling to me, especially since it hasn't been fixed in over 2 YEARS. Sega should have had this fixed by now, and Valve should have been on them to do just that from the beginning. I'm not sure if the bug ever will be fixed at this point, but until it happens, save your money. If you really want to play the game, I humbly suggest you find a copy of the Dreamcast version (as well as a Dreamcast if you don't have one), or the superior sequel on the origial Xbox. As is, the PC version isn't worth your time, or your Lincoln.