jet set radio future

Whenever I’m roaming the stalls of a video game market, Jet Set Radio Future is top of my wish list. I used to own a copy for my ever faithful OG Xbox, but it was sadly traded away. I know, I know, I’m still not quite over it. The reason I want to pick it up again so badly, is not only because of just how much I used to enjoy playing the game, but also due to the fact it’s so difficult to get hold of these days.

Jet Set Radio Future was a sequel to the original Jet Set Radio which was released on the Dreamcast and then on Xbox 360, where you primarily played as YoYo, a member of the GGs. This young gang of inline skaters were competing for territory with others in a futuristic, totalitarian Tokyo. Your main aim was to tag pretty much any sort of bare surface you could find, as well as covering up the logos of your rival gangs.

There was plenty to explore in the varied and sprawling metropolis, this was usually done by grinding on rails or boosting along the streets. Whether it was at ground level, passing over rooftops or even hopping between huge satellite dishes suspended hundreds of metres above the ground, Jet Set Radio Future was wonderfully over the top.

As well as racing characters, mimicking their trick streaks and battling against the ever persistent police by spraying them with your graffiti cans, you were encouraged to explore your surroundings too. This was due to the fact that Graffiti Souls and Hidden Tapes were dotted around, meaning you could unlock extra missions, characters, graffiti designs and more. Each character was a true individual, which made unlocking them wholly worth the effort.

In an evolution of the gameplay compared to the first game, Jet Set Radio Future felt more open world in nature, with the various distinctive areas being interconnected and accessible (almost) when the player wanted. There were also numerous objectives located within each location, giving off a much less linear feel to the story.

Jet Set Radio Future was crammed full of diverse but wonderfully madcap characters. Rival gangs included the Doom Riders, Noise Tanks and my personal favourite, The Immortals. The mummified skaters with flashes of gold stuck in my mind as so distinctive, and yet so simple at the same time.

However, perhaps the most insane character of the lot was Rokkaku company chairman, and series villain, Gouji. Again, I vividly remember the final battle against him and his army of minions at the Rokkaku building (I can still hear the music now). He is somewhat unhinged, and has form for trying to summon demons. This is a perfect example of how Jet Set Radio Future elevated a potentially simple skating game into something utterly fascinating and unique.

It would be remiss of me not to mention your closest ally, and Tokyo’s best known pirate radio host DJ Professor K. He acts as narrator in the game, and helps the GGs wherever possible. His character is another example of how Jet Set Radio Future takes every opportunity to flex its creative muscles. 

Overall, I remember being hit in the face with just how cool Jet Set Radio Future was. I was barely a teenager at the time, and crap at skating in real life, so the vividly colourful and stylised world provided total escapism. I’m right there with everyone else hoping and praying the series makes a comeback in some way, because I’ve not played a game quite like it since.

What really completed the Jet Set Radio Future experience for me was the epic soundtrack, which you can check out online. Its poppy, funky and sometimes downright abstract tracklist still has me singing along twenty years later. It was a collection of songs which again oozed style, and hammered home the fact that Jet Set Radio Future was more than just a simple sports game, it was a niche but imaginative tour de force and not afraid to double down on it. 

I love Jet Set Radio Future, and truth be told I am itching to play it again more than ever after writing this little love letter to it. To play it today, I can guarantee you wouldn’t imagine it to be two decades old. Jet Set Radio Future is set in 2024, and we have nearly reached that year in our own lives. However, due to its originality and super cool style, it manages somehow to be timeless.

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