Once again, Jet Set Radio Future begins with freedom of expression being pretty much banned in the streets of Japan. So it’s an all-for-one free-for-all between the different gangs a to not only fight for their turf, but stop the evil Gouji Rokkaku from trying to take over the world yet again. All the old characters are back, although they went back to using the original Japanese names for a few characters (Tab is now called Corn, Mew is called Rhyth, etc.) DJ Professor K is also back, sporting some gray hair now and a bit more mellowed out than his previous stint. Captain Onishima is gone and has been replaced by the equally psychotic Captain Hiyashi, but he seems more annoying than funny in this version. All the gangs are back, but this time there are even more than before (including Rapid 99, The Immortals, and the Doom Riders).
For this release, Smilebit felt as though the original game was a bit slow (which I never felt was slow at all). So you no longer need to stand still to tag – you can just skate right on by, with no motions to input. You simply press a button at the graffiti icon and you will simply just paint, no matter what the size of the tag is (this time with five sizes: Super Small, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large). You can be moving at high speeds and still be able to tag graffiti without ever stopping. The camera align button was changed to the L trigger, with the tagging button moved to the R trigger, fixing one of the major problems of the original. The time limit has also been removed entirely, and some of the trials when facing opponents are easier, since you don’t automatically get a “Game Over” when you veer off a little bit. Unfortunately, you still can’t directly control the camera, other than recentering it behind your character.
The trick system has also tinkered with. Instead of just randomly having the game do tricks for you (there actually wasn’t a button in Jet Grind Radio to do any tricks on your own), the game has the X and Y buttons for executing various moves. The tricks aren’t for just collecting points now, as pulling off tricks now lets you go faster, and in a half pipe, make you jump higher. It’s a nice little addition.
Instead of the wave of enemies the first game threw at you after tagging several spots, Jet Set Radio Future has trigger points that have you facing off against the police or the Golden Rhinos in the confines of an electric fence that appears out of nowhere. These areas are not fun for the fact that every single enemy is easily beaten by the same tactic: run at them full speed to knock them over, then spray their backs when they’re down. It’s really disappointing after the whole army chasing you feel from the first, although it does make the regular sections of the game easier, since you don’t need to constantly run from them while being caught in the middle of a tag.
The areas in this game are huge and gorgeous. Everything comes to life thanks to the Xbox’s hardware being able to pull off so many objects on the screen at once. The human population seemed pretty sparse in the original, but this one has you feeling claustrophobic because of all the people and vehicles everywhere. The areas are so big, however, that getting lost at first is a sure thing, and sometimes is just too hard to navigate through (I’m looking your way, Sky Dinosaurian Square, Pharaoh Park and The Skyscraper District). The character models have been upgraded and look even better than before, thanks to some snazzy redesigns.
The music again was largely contributed by Hideki Naganuma and this is honestly one of the greatest OSTs of all time. A perfect blend of techno, house, and hip hop genres pump through the speakers, all in glorious Dolby 5.1. Some of the artist include Scapegoat Wax, Deavid Soul, and Latch Brothers (which is the Beastie Boys’ side project).
The biggest addition to this game would be the inclusion of multi-player modes. There are five total that range from racing around a section of the city, to quickly spraying the town as fast as you can, to even trying to spray each other in the back. They’re all quite fun, but lack of Xbox Live compatibility hurts the most.
There are some glaring problems with this game however. While the action is technically smoother than the Dreamcast version, there is some very noticeable slowdown in the game, especially in the garage. Jet Set Radio Future is supposed to be a sequel, but feels more like a retelling of the original story (much like Starfox 64 was a retelling of the SNES Starfox). While the graffiti editor is back to make your own art, you can not go on Xbox Live to upload pictures to use at graffiti. Also, due to the simplifying of the graffiti aspect of the game, Jet Set Radio Future is also easier. But, by all means this does not mean that it is a bad game – overall, it’s a more finely tuned game than its predecessor, even if some of the changes aren’t necessarily for the better.
After Sega released Jet Set Radio Future, Microsoft bundled the game with Sega GT 2002 and sold it with their Xbox consoles as a pack in. It’s actually quite odd that it is harder to find the actual original copy of Jet Set Radio Future than the bundle disc.