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: The Day the HD Stood Strong

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Imagine growing up with a family who got you your first video game system, even though they have little to no knowledge of what video games are. That may sound like most of you, but for those that didn’t have that lovely experience, nine times out of ten you hoped that you got the one game system you wanted to get or you relied on friends to have the ones you didn’t have. And somehow, unfortunately, my neighborhood was all Nintendo territory.

Let’s fast forward to early 2012; I started to branch out in my gaming endeavors. I got an Xbox 360 a year before and third-party titles started to become my new favorite (I went crazy over all of the Suda51 games). Then one fateful spring morning, it was announced that three classic Sega titles were coming to the 360 and PS3 later on in the year. And while I already spoiled myself silly over the Gamecube port of Sonic Adventure 2, the other two games were ones that I was most excited about than any other game of that year: NiGHTS into Dreams and Jet Set Radio. Since there were no Sonic games coming out that year, SEGA gave us three remastered HD titles to melt over. And while some have already played these gems, this was an exciting and memorable moment for me in a time when people thought the world was going to end.

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.

Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: GameFan says SEGA’s Jet Grind Radio is “the next BIG THING”

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As Smilebit Month comes to an end, we crack open one more classic magazine for a look at what gaming journalists thought of a SEGA classic. GameFan magazine was quite a unique publication at the time. From 1992 to 2000, GameFan not only covered general gaming news, but also anime, manga, and featured extensive import coverage. It really was the perfect magazine for gaming fans who were also steeped in anime and importing the latest and greatest RPGs and generally more off the wall titles. So, of course, it was only fitting that SEGA’s Jet Grind Radio received the GameFan cover treatment for their August 2000 issue and had a four page preview and interview with the then unknown Smilebit team.

A look back at Smilebit’s Gunvalkyrie – an underappreciated SEGA classic

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In the West, SEGA’s Smilebit has become synonymous with the Jet Set Radio games, and for good reason. Like Sonic The Hedgehog to the Genesis and NiGHTS into Dreams to the Saturn, the original Jet Set Radio became one of the Dreamcast’s defining games, showcasing unique graphics and reinventing a video game genre. As SEGA left the hardware market in 2001, internal developers announced which consoles they would favor and Smilebit fittingly ended up with Microsoft’s Xbox.

I say “fittingly” because it only made sense that a developer known for pushing the graphical envelope would choose the Xbox, given Smilebit members’ propensities for expansive worlds in past titles like Team Andromeda’s Panzer Dragoon Saga and the first Jet Set Radio. While Jet Set Radio tried to conceal the fact that the game actually consisted of several small areas linked by clever tricks allowing the Dreamcast to load the next area as the player skated to the another section of the map, on the Xbox Smilebit could truly create expansive and detailed worlds. Utilizing the Xbox’s power, Smilebit did just that with Jet Set Radio Future, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Gunvalkyrie.

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.

Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: Xbox Nation interviews Smilebit’s Panzer Dragoon Orta artists

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As evidenced last month, the unofficial Microsoft Xbox magazine Xbox Nation (XBN) really liked Smilebit. Their premiere issue featured Smilebit’s Jet Set Radio Future, which is surprising given Halo‘s dominance at the time, and their third issue featured a Panzer Dragoon Orta cover and an eight page preview and interview with former Team Andromeda staff. As the magazine continued, XBN kept up on various SEGA and Smilebit titles. In the magazine’s sixth issue they returned to Japan for another Smilebit interview, this time with Panzer Dragoon Orta artists Takashi Iwade and Kentaro Yoshida. Let’s crack open this issue to see what these legends had to say!

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.

Classic SEGA Ads: Jet Grind Radio’s crazy BIG GO! commercial

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Jet Set Radio had a bit of an identity crisis when it reached the West. When the game was first revealed in Japan, few media outlets knew exactly what to make of the game. Was it rhythm game? Was it a Japanese take on Tony Hawk Pro Skater? From the teases we got, it appeared to be a bit of both. The first real concrete explanation of the game came from America’s Official Dreamcast Magazine, which featured an in-depth interview with Smilebit and a preview of the game. While ODCM did a fantastic job with explaining the game and selling many Dreamcast owners on it, myself included, SEGA of America did a less than fantastic job of letting the general public know what the game was all about.

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!

Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: Xbox Nation’s “Chasing the Dragon”, an inside look at Panzer Dragoon Orta

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When SEGA announced that they were discontinuing the Dreamcast in 2001, like many SEGA fans I was in a daze. What competitor console would I buy to continue to enjoy SEGA games? How could I keep up on SEGA news with the cancellation of the fantastic Official SEGA Dreamcast Magazine? With the knowledge that certain internal development teams would be shifting focus to specific consoles, fans had to decide if they were to become a Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo owner (or all three if you were one of those spoiled kids). As a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog and Jet Set Radio, the decision was clear. I was to become an Xbox owner. SEGA told fans that Sonic would be multi-platform, despite Sonic Team’s Nintendo leanings, and that Smilebit would be releasing games to the Xbox. These were deciding factors for sure, but what really tipped me over the edge into pledging allegiance to the Xbox was Xbox Nation, the independent Xbox magazine.

SEGA Japan’s new PS3/Vita teaser game revealed

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Above is the newest teaser image from the unannounced SEGA Japan game. The game is supposed to come out on the Playstation 3 and the Playstation Vita. According to the Famitsu leak this week, the game is going to be a new entry in the “Let’s make a soccer team!” franchise that SEGA has in Japan.

Seems to me that this was a huge disappointment. But hey, did you know the last game in 2006 was developed by Smilebit?

SEGA Sequel Saturdays: JET SET RADIO!!

[The one, the only……..Jet Set Radio]

Few franchises have managed to achieve such iconic status with only two installments, but the Jet Set Radio series (Jet Grind Radio for the first one in North America,) was one that managed to do it. The series represented all that was great about Sega during the Dreamcast era: their incredible ability to take risks and deliver groundbreaking and inventive experiences that you simply couldn’t get anywhere else.

What better series to get a sequel than this one? Here’s how I’d do a sequel if I were in charge.

Fly like a butterfly through the break to read more and comment with your own thoughts/ideas.