THQ had a deal with Sega to publish all the games they made for the Game Boy Advance in North America. This deal also meant they could develop games using Sega’s properties. One of the games that was made by Vicarious Visions commissioned by THQ was Jet Grind Radio. Using the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater GBA engine, Vicarious Visions tried recapture the Dreamcast game’s magic into the tiny portable. And for the most part, they get the job done.
The game’s story and setup is exactly like it’s Dreamcast counterpart. The story is actually progressed the same way with the exact same dialogue at times. The graphics actually perfectly recreate the atmosphere of the Dreamcast game and all the levels are taken from it as well. There was a few omissions from the 128-bit version due to the new perspective. Vicarious Visions actually fixed the controls in which the boost button actually responds when you press it! The most impressive thing about this game would have to be in the sound department, which Vicarious Visions got Shin’en of Iridion 2 and Nanostray fame to create the music and sound. There are only six songs, but the music is so good and surprising that they were able to be so accurate to the source material, but it does loop too quickly. The sound is also great, only for all the yells and “Yeahs!” from the Dreamcast game are in here as well. Heck, the graffiti editor is here as well. The biggest addition to this version would be the multi-player modes, which weren’t featured in the original.
The biggest strike against the GBA version is it’s awkward 3/4 perspective that makes judging jumps more difficult than it should. This also means running away from your enemies is a lot more tedious this time, seeing how you can’t tell their distance in respect to your player. This is extremely infuriating in the case when they release the helicopters at you. When they fire missiles toward you, the movement is so sporadic that it’s difficult to avoid. And unlike the first game, when you get shot or hit from any projectile, you do not fall down. This could mean certain death when it comes to tagging a wall and you don’t realize that you are actually being shot.
On a side note, this is the only Jet Set Radio game that lets you play as DJ Professor K, once you unlock him that is.
Gamespot News article on San Francisco government trying to shut down “Graffiti is Art” contest.
1up.com’s Essential 50 1up.com’s most important games ever made article with Jet Grind Radio making the list.