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.

Before we crack open the magazine, I should make special note of the awesome cover art and who drew it. There is nothing I love more than a gaming magazine cover featuring new original art of a classic series I love, and there is no artist I like more than Patrick Spaziante. So imagine my surprise when I opened GameFan to check the credits page and it turned out that this awesome Jet Grind Radio cover was drawn by Patrick Spaziante himself! Spaziante, who goes by the name “Spaz”, is best known to SEGA fans as the long running cover artist for Archie’s Sonic The Hedgehog comics. But he wasn’t tied to Archie, often doing art for Marvel and video gaming magazines back when they allowed for such awesome cover art. As my gift to all the Spaz fans out there, enjoy the highest resolution version of this cover that exists on the internet.

Alright, Spaz gushing over, let’s take a look at the magazine!

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Reading-Over-Your-Shoulder Observations and Interesting Factoids:

  • The article opens with quite a grim outlook for SEGA, noting SoJ president Shoichiro Irimajiri resigning and a third year of losses
  • Naka and Suzuki are mentioned as not being able to help SEGA despite their brilliance (ouch!)
  • The name change from “Set” to “Grind” is noted as being due to trademark concerns
  • There is no mention of Smilebit throughout the article, they are only known as AM6 and later as Team Jet Grind Radio
  • The game’s cell shading technique is known as “Manga Dimension” – that’s news to me
  • GameFan believes that the game has 4 main characters and that Gum is the only female
  • Combo is incorrectly called “Kombo”

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  • The writer incorrectly states that the cops will only warn you to ‘cease and desist’ – guess he didn’t get to the part where they kill you with dogs, smoke bombs, and rocket launchers
  • Despite the many incorrect statements the writer makes, this bit is dead on accurate: “AM6 is standing on the slippery precipice of likely fame right now” – too true, as Smilebit made quite the name for themselves in such a short span of time
  • They also correctly guess at the game getting a sequel
  • Programming of Jet Set Radio began in the summer of 1999 – initial development is only stated as beginning “quite some time ago”
  • The cell shading process is called “Manga-Cartoon-Dimension” and “Japanese Monkey Magic” – clearly Smilebit weren’t taking GameFan seriously
  • The team claims the game would not be possible on the PS2, something they also told ODCM
  • “Bad boys don’t want to be caught”
  • The Fall Tokyo Game Show reveal of the game lead to many to believe the game was 2D, something noted in early issues of ODCM
  • Team Jet Grind Radio credits (aka people who I’d love to have sign my copy of the game): Masayoshi Kikuchi (Director), Ryuta Ueda (Art Director), Takayuki Kawagoe (Producer), Osamu Sato (Assistant Producer), Miho Matsuda (Overseas Publicity Support Sega of Japan)
  • Is that last position still a thing? Because that would be very helpful for fansites

Next time on Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: Space Channel 5!

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

  1. GuitarAnthony says:

    I very much miss Gamefan. Great magazine.

  2. pixel says:

    Are you being sarcastic or did you never read manga dimension written on the games back cover?

    • Where is “manga dimension” written? On the package, “Cartoon-dimension” is mentioned. This is the only time I’ve heard “manga-cartoon-dimension” used.

  3. Eric says:

    I miss GameFan! I had a good friend when I was in the Navy… he and I used to read each issue with relish, eagerly awaiting the day the Saturn would be released! Sadly, he transferred off the ship a few months before the surprise launch… a week later, I got my income tax refund, and it was off to the mall to pick up my brand-spanking-new Saturn! 😀

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