Know you gonna dig this – Jet Set Radio Future celebrates its 15th anniversary!

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It’s fifteen years later and we’re still trying to understand the concept of love. That’s right, on this date SEGA and Smilebit’s Jet Set Radio Future released in Japan to Microsoft’s Xbox! Just a few days later, on February 25th, the game hit the Americas (thankfully not retitled Jet Grind Radio Future) and then on March 14th those in Europe got to see what those in Japan and the Americas were raving about.

Jet Set Radio Future was a dramatic shift for the franchise for a number of reasons. As the first direct sequel (the Game Boy Advance game was more of a downgraded – but still highly enjoyable – remake), JSRF looked and played very differently. The entire universe had a new art style, characters were very different both in look and allegiance, and the game played less like an arcade game and more like an open world adventure. But hey, what can you expect? It was the future!

SEGA Memories: Playing Jet Set Radio Future for three days straight in 2002!

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2016 is a big year for milestone SEGA anniversaries, and while the Jet Set Radio franchise didn’t make our mega list (which you can check out right here), I’d be remiss as a Jet Set Radio fan if I didn’t tip my hat to the sequel Jet Set Radio Future which turns 14 today in North America. As an all-encompassing SEGA fan, I don’t really pledge allegiance to one franchise. Everything from Space Channel 5 to Guardian Heroes to Valkyria Chronicles pull at my SEGA fan heartstrings. But one franchise that gets to me more than any other is Jet Set Radio. Playing the first game on the Dreamcast was more than your typical “yay, a new game” experience. Jet Set Radio introduced me to a crazy new world where bright colors, catchy music and offbeat street culture melded together into a game that I couldn’t stop playing. It wasn’t so much the gameplay the grabbed me, as it was the world of Tokyo-to. Popping the game into my Dreamcast was another free trip to explore my favorite video game world.

So you can imagine my excitement when Jet Set Radio Future was announced, featuring a much larger world and even better graphics. The only catch? It was on a console I had never intended to buy at the time, Microsoft’s Xbox.

SEGA Retrospective: Jet Set Radio Future and The Latch Brothers

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Jet Set Radio and its sequel Jet Set Radio Future are often cited as having some of the best music to come from SEGA thanks in a large part to Hideki Naganuma and Richard Jacques. While in-house talent played a large role in creating such memorable soundtracks, the soundtracks also consisted of licensed music from artists that included Guitar Vader, Cibo Matto, Deavid Soul and others. This week on SEGA Tunes (the feature formerly known as Tuesday Tunes) we’re focusing on a third type of Jet Set Radio music contributor: The Latch Brothers.

The merchandise of SEGA’s Jet Set Radio: Collecting that Uki-Uki-Waku-Waku feeling

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Unless you’re a Sonic The Hedgehog fan, collecting merchandise from SEGA franchises can be a difficult venture. Some games simply have little to no merchandise. Bug!, for example, only has a windup figure from SEGA’s Jack in the Box kid’s meal and a few Saturn era promotional pieces. Ecco the Dolphin and Toejam and Earl merchandise is almost non-existent; the former also had a Jack in the Box kid’s meal toy and the latter is just now getting products thanks to the recently funded Kickstarter campaign. Japanese franchises, like Phantasy Star Online, have quite a lot of collectibles but much of it is Japan only and requires importing and ebay hunting. Other franchises, like Shenmue, have had quite a bit of merchandise in the past and in recent years, but good luck finding any of it for a low price point.

Jet Set Radio, meanwhile, has quite a bit to offer fans when it comes to collectibles with several items releasing outside of Japan and many of them being surprisingly affordable. Seeing as Jet Set Radio is one of my favorite franchises, I’ve amassed a small collection over the years which I wanted to show off both because I am incredibly conceited and because I thought it would serve as a nice guide for those wondering what sort of Jet Set Radio merchandise is out there.

Developer Retrospective: The wonderfully unique games of SEGA’s Smilebit

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SEGA’s development team Smilebit existed in the public eye for only four short years, yet in that time they managed to create one of the company’s most unique franchises, revived a classic Saturn franchise, contributed to a long running series of popular Japanese sports titles, and managed to create a few new franchises that have gone on to become true hidden gems. It’s fitting that we follow Team Andromeda Month with Smilebit, as Smilebit was actually the bringing together of the SEGA AM6’s Team Aquila, Team Andromeda, and G9 Team (though some staff ended up moving to United Game Artists). This mix of talent lead to Smilebit being primarily tasked with the Let’s Make series of sports titles, franchises that were largely confined to Japan. Utilizing former Team Andromeda staff, the team spearheaded the latest (and thus far last) Panzer Dragoon game. But what really made Smilebit unique were their new franchises including the Jet Set Radio games, Gunvalkyrie, and Hundred Swords.

All month long we’ll be celebrating Smilebit’s eclectic mix of games, celebrating the classics, the lesser known titles, and the ones that never left Japan. Ready to look back? Let’s go!

SEGA Retrospective: Over the ‘hood, through the streets and right into your brain – It’s Jet Set Radio

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We’re transmitting our signal straight to you! Y’all got your antennas on?
Welcome to Jet Set Radio Week – a week long celebration of SEGA’s off-kilter cel shaded Dreamcast classic! Past SEGA Franchise Weeks focused on more than one game, but Jet Set Radio Week is going to be different. Rather than splitting our time between the Dreamcast original and its radically different Xbox sequel Jet Set Radio Future, we’re devoting the next seven days to simply Jet Set Radio. But don’t fret, Jet Set Radio Future will have its own week soon enough!

Like Sonic The Hedgehog on the Genesis, and NiGHTS on the Saturn, Jet Set Radio on the Dreamcast turned heads with amazing visuals, memorable music, and unique gameplay mechanics. Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio in America) may not have taken off like SEGA had hoped, but it did do well enough to warrant the previously mentioned sequel and has since become a SEGA cult classic. After the break, let’s take a look back and how such a crazy concept for a game came to be.

Jet Set Radio inspired “Hover : Revolt Of Gamers” Kickstarter begins – stretch goal features Hideki Naganuma music

Back in January, a trailer was released for a game entitled Hover : Revolt Of Gamers, and while not SEGA developed or published, the game was clearly inspired by a certain cel shaded Dreamcast classic featuring magnetically driven in-line skates. Created by French indie developer Fusty Game, Hover : Revolt Of Gamers is an open world freerun/parkour game inspired by Jet Set Radio and Mirror’s Edge. Like many indie games these days, the developers have turned to Kickstarter in an effort to fund the game, and at only 1 day into the campaign they’ve already amassed 20k of the 38k goal. Impressive!

Set to appear on PC/Mac/Linux, XboxOne/PS4, as well as the Wii U if a stretch goal is met ($100,000), Hover intends to feature “a fun and cartoon style”, “immersive and dynamic sensations”, a “grandiose and technologic environment”, and (if a $60,000 stretch goal is met) original music tracks from Hideki Naganuma of Jet Set Radio fame!

So parkour on over to their Kickstarter page and pledge your support today!

SEGA Sequels: Risky SEGA Sequels

Has it really been 20 weeks? Holy crap! Well, at any rate, for Episode 20 and probably the next episode or so, I’m going to be taking a look at sequels that really pushed the boundaries of what one would expect as a followup to another game. When making a sequel, a developer has a few different choices. Sometimes, they choose to take the easy way out, simply repeating the formula from the sequel’s predecessor and hoping that their audience is simply looking for more of the same….something that didn’t work for The Hangover 2, that’s for sure. Other times, a developer might try to tweak the formula, but still aim to deliver the same overall experience, abeit one that’s been improved. Then, there are developers who decide to take their sequel in an entirely different direction, by far the riskiest strategy of the 3. Sometimes it works, and the fans accept it, and then other times….tweaking the formula too drastically can result in a sequel that the fans hate. This week I’m going to take a look at Jet Set Radio Future, a game I’ve talked about in this feature before; what made it so different, why it was such a risky game to make, and, well, did these changes work?