While I may write about Sonic a lot, my favorite SEGA franchise is actually Jet Set Radio. Ever since playing the original game in 2000, my perception of games has never been the same. Jet Set Radio was more than just a fun game, it was an experience. It introduced me to a world that oozed with color, funky music and over the top characters and settings. Unlike Sonic, however, the Jet Set Radio franchise is insanely small. All fans really have to soak up are two great games, a fun handheld title and the upcoming port. Articles about the series are rare, and the amount of Jet Set Radio merchandise produced could easily fill a small shelf. As a tribute to my favorite SEGA game, I thought I’d increase the web article count by one with five things about Jet Set Radio that the regular SEGA fan may not know about. If, after reading this weekly five, you have learned nothing then consider yourself a Jet Set Radio super fan!
Jet Set Radio’s Creation Was a Reaction to Panzer Dragoon Saga
Have you ever played Jet Set Radio and thought to yourself, “for a game developed by members of Team Andromeda, this is very unlike a Panzer Dragoon title.”? This was intentional. Masayoshi Kikuchi, director of Jet Set Radio, discussed the game’s creation in an interview: “We wanted to work on something that was completely unlike Panzer Dragoon Saga. Something dealing with pop culture and something that was cool”. Since his early days at art school, Jet Set Radio art director Ryuta Ueda had been drawing characters that looked very much like the characters seen in the finished game. Kikuchi explained: “Ueda came and showed me this picture saying, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do something like this.’”. Ueda’s art style, combined with Kikuchi’s direction to do what Panzer Dragoon didn’t lead to what was Jet Set Radio’s unique look.
Garam’s Necklace Looks Familiar
In the same interview discussing the game’s creation, Kikuchi gave away an easter egg which exists in Jet Set Radio. “See this?” (Kikuchi points at a portrait of the character Garam in the JSR manual) “See his necklace? It’s a skull, and while we were working on Panzer Dragoon Orta, I found it on the stomach of one of the bosses. It’s a strange shape, isn’t it? I asked Mr. Ueda what it was, and he told me that it’s the skull of another famous Sega character”. Sonic fans, I’m sorry to say that Sonic is dead. Garam had his tiny skull made into a necklace. You can see that it’s not 1:1 with Sonic’s skull, but there are the defined Sonic eyes and the spikes running from the forehead to the base of the skull. Speaking of the Panzer Dragoon Orta boss that Kikuchi mentioned, if any reader can find a screen of the boss he’s referring to please share it in the comments section below.
Take a Picture, Paint it on a Wall
In the glory days of Jet Set Radio, there was a thriving graffiti community, skimming the internet for suitable jpegs with their Dreamcast web browser and then painting them up around Tokyo-to. Some of the pieces were made in the game’s graffiti editor, some were made on the computer and uploaded to the net and some images were just porn photos that teenagers like myself thought were hilarious. Since then, dial-up internet has become a thing of the past and unless you have the broadband connector, graffiti fans are shit-outta-luck. Or are they? Back in 2009 I dropped $50 on a Dreamcast Dreameye camera, complete in box. I figured it would prove to be a wacky, but useless, Dreamcast peripheral. I snapped some photos with it, I played around with them in the photo editing program, and then one day I got curious. I booted up Jet Set Radio, the Japanese version, and attempted to import a Dreameye image with the graffiti editor. It worked! Both the Dreameye and the Japanese Dreamcast web browser saves jpegs to the same file format. So whatever you snap a photo of can become a violation of Tokyo-to law!
Super Brother is a Song About Mario and Luigi
The Jet Set Radio series has had some pretty weird lyrics to their songs, but none is stranger than the addition of Guitar Vader’s song “Super Brother”. The song itself suits the series, but the lyrics aren’t something I ever expected to hear in a SEGA title (at least, back in 2000). While they’re not entirely audible or understandable, the lyrics go something like this:
Come we(re) going to rescue Peach. We(re) Super Boys. 1234567, we like mushrooms(s). She’s Playing Anata ga meija (you’re controlling). Love, love, love, love, baby.
So yes, before Mario and Sonic, there was Mario and The GG’s.
The Original Japanese Version Had Interactive Credits
In the original Japanese ending of Jet Set Radio, the credits were interactive! Players skated around, tagging and playing with the developer’s names. This is an aspect to the original Japanese release that gets little mention, but I could swear it’s true. While I can’t confirm it with a video, I recall encountering it myself when I played through the original Japanese version of the game, and my hazy memory was confirmed in an interview with the game’s developers. The reason for this cool feature’s omission is localization. Bringing the interactive credits sequence to an English speaking audience required rebuilding it from the ground up, changing every credit into English. As it was too much work, the sequence was cut and changed into the non-interactive credits we see in the American and European versions.
In the comments below, I invite other Jet Set Radio fans to share the little secrets they may know of. I also invite fans of the game to check out an awesome interview with the game’s developers, which served as an inspiration for this week’s Weekly Five.Ad: