Jet Grind Radio Skidrow

A young graffiti artist named Beat and his gang of inline-skating Rudies roam the cel-shaded streets of Tokyo-to while spraying tags, defeating rival gangs and evading a city-wide police crackdown.

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Overview

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Jet Grind Radio (known outside of North America as Jet Set Radio) is an action inline skating game developed by Smilebit and originally published by Sega for Dreamcast in 2000. As a member of a gang of inline skate punks (or "Rudies") known as the GGs, players vie for territory in the streets of Tokyo-to by spraying over the graffiti tags of rival gangs while evading the city's Keisatsu police and military forces. Jet Grind Radio is notable for its bold and colorful aesthetic, which includes prominent use of cel-shading to render its 3D characters in a visual style reminiscent of hand-drawn cartoons.

Jet Set Radio was originally released on June 29, 2000 only in Japan. A subsequent international version (which was later released in Japan as De La Jet Set Radio) features two new levels set in "Grind City," a separate metropolis based on New York City. New songs, characters and other content were also added, including online connectivity via SegaNet which allowed players to download or upload custom graffiti. A high-definition port of the game's international Dreamcast version was developed by BlitWorks and released as a downloadable title for Xbox 360, PS3, Vita and PC in 2012.

A handheld version of the game was developed by Vicarious Visions and published by THQ (by Sega in Europe) for Game Boy Advance in 2003. This version uses isometric graphics and features gameplay similar to that of the same developer's handheld entries in the Tony Hawk series.

A sequel to Jet Grind Radio titled JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future was released for Xbox in 2002; however, because JSRF recycles the same basic gameplay, story and characters from the original game, it is also a remake (or a requel).

Story

Somewhere in Asia, there is a city that cannot be found on any map called "Tokyo-to," but everyone just calls it "Tokyo". The two hottest things on the streets of Tokyo-to are the punks wearing magnetically driven inline skates powered by newly-developed "netrium" batteries, and "Jet Set Radio," a pirate radio station manned by the DJ "Professor K" that plays nothing but non-stop, hardcore music.

Those street punks have been named "Rudies" by the people of Tokyo-to. They roam the streets and cover the city with their personal graffiti, claiming that it is their way of expressing themselves to the world.

DJ
DJ "Professor K"

However, ever since the Metropolitan Government and the financial conglomerate, the Rokkaku Group, combined their efforts to co-found the "21st Century Project," the streets of Tokyo-to have never been the same again. Police crackdowns on the Rudies have become more severe, and Captain Onishima is more anxious than ever to put them behind bars.

The streets of Tokyo-to are ready to explode...

Gameplay

The basic gameplay in Jet Grind Radio is similar to that of other 3D skating games such as the Tony Hawk franchise; players control their Rudie character from a third-person perspective as they traverse each of the game's levels in order to complete assigned objectives. These levels are built with a variety of interactive objects including hand rails and half-pipes, allowing Rudies to perform skate tricks such as grinding, wall riding and jumping (or "transferring") across gaps. Unlike Tony Hawk, however, Jet Grind Radio places much greater emphasis on skating as a means of parkour to reach objectives, as opposed to executing complex button commands to perform tricks for points.

The majority of stages in the game involve players spraying graffiti onto predefined "tag spots" positioned around a level, which are marked by floating red arrows; these stages are complete once all of the red arrows have been tagged. Green arrows indicate optional tag spots that can be sprayed to earn extra points towards a stage's high score. Players must make effective use of momentum, jumps and grinds to access tag spots positioned in elevated or otherwise hard-to-reach portions of a level.

Instead of seeking out static tag spots, some stages require players to chase and repeatedly spray the backs of three rival gang members that roam around a level using preset routes. There are also a number of speed challenges pitting the player against an AI-controlled Rudie in a one-on-one race to spray a particular tag spot in a distant location that serves as the finish line. All of the game's stages must be completed within a specified time limit that varies per stage.

Graffiti Tagging

Spraying a large graffiti tag
Spraying a large graffiti tag

When the player approaches a potential tag spot, a speech bubble appears above their character's head indicating the type of graffiti tag that can be sprayed there. Graffiti tags are available in three different sizes: small tags, large tags and extra-large tags. All graffiti tags require spray paint, which is scattered around the game's levels for players to collect: small tags consume a single can of paint, large tags require three cans and extra-large tags require six spray cans.

There are three types of color-coded spray can items that can be collected during gameplay:

  • Yellow Cans: Adds one spray can to the player's paint stock.
  • Blue Cans: Adds five spray cans to the player's paint stock.
  • Red Cans: Restores a portion of the player's health.

Once the player presses the L-Trigger while standing next to a tag spot, a graffiti-spraying minigame begins in which players must perform analog stick inputs as indicated by one or more on-screen prompts. Matching all of the prompts completes the tag, and Rudies can earn additional points by completing all of a tag's prompts in succession with no mistakes. Each individual on-screen prompt (some of which involve multiple analog stick motions) consumes one spray can; if the player performs an incorrect input while tagging, they forfeit their current spray can and must reattempt the same prompt with another can. Players can also abort a graffiti minigame by pressing L-Trigger a second time while tagging; this is sometimes useful for avoiding incoming enemies.

Some Rudies can carry a larger stock of spray cans than others. Additionally, each Rudie has an associated "Graffiti skill" determining the difficulty of the analog stick inputs required to apply each can of paint, as well as the total number of points earned per successful tag; both of these character traits can factor significantly into the overall difficulty of completing stages with a high score.

Enemies

Players are usually forced to contend with Tokyo-to's Keisatsu police force while attempting to complete their objectives. At the beginning of a stage, police presence is typically minimal or even nonexistent; however, as players tag the stage's red arrows with graffiti, the police will eventually take notice and dispatch units to the player's location. As the story progresses, the police become increasingly brazen in their responses to reported Rudie activity; players will eventually be met with tear gas-equipped SWAT units, missile-launching attack helicopters and even military tanks. Because Tokyo-to's police force primarily focuses its efforts on trying to prevent vandalism, these enemies do not appear in stages where the objective is simply to chase down a rival gang or win a one-on-one race.

Keisatsu units responding to Rudies
Keisatsu units responding to Rudies

Rudies are nearly defenseless against the police, who deal damage upon contact and will often try to latch onto Rudie targets in order to slow them down. When police enemies draw close to the player, the word "Run!!" appears on the screen along with an orange objective arrow pointing towards the closest enemy group. Fortunately, nearly all levels also contain special "safe zones" that players can use to temporarily evade police pursuit; these are indicated by blue arrows and are usually found in elevated areas.

Captain Onishima typically leads the Keisatsu in their counter-attacks against the Rudies. As a unique enemy, Onishima carries a large Magnum revolver he uses to attack players at range. However, unlike standard enemies, players can knock the Captain over by running into him; additionally, the back of Onishima's trench coat can be spray-painted to disable his movement and attacks for a certain length of time.

The Golden Rhinos
The Golden Rhinos

Once players reach the story campaign's final chapter, the Keisatsu are replaced by a group of ruthless suit-wearing contract killers known as the Golden Rhinos. In addition to the group's standard machete- and submachine-gun-wielding foot soldiers, the Rhinos employ several special operatives that fulfill a role similar to that of Captain Onishima. These six elite Assassins use a variety of advanced techniques and equipment to eliminate any Rudies within an area, including retractable whips, flamethrowers and jet packs.

Levels

Jet Grind Radio features a total of six levels located in different areas of Tokyo-to and Grind City. Tokyo-to's three primary districts (Shibuya-cho, Benten-Cho and Kogane-cho) are much larger than the game's other areas; these expansive levels are also divided into distinct sub-areas, some of which may be inaccessible during certain Story missions.

Shibuya-cho

Shibuya-cho's Bus Terminal
Shibuya-cho's Bus Terminal

The "city of daylight" in south Tokyo-to and the GGs' home turf. At the story's outset, players must defend their territory from an all-female rival gang of jilted Rudies known as the Love Shockers. Shibuya-cho's three sub-areas are primarily linked by the large Shibuya Crossing pedestrian intersection, but a long concrete canal shaped like a half-pipe serves as an alternate means of transit between areas. Much like the real-world Shibuya, this busy district is shopping-focused with many storefronts lining the streets.

  • Bus Terminal: The campaign's first Story stage takes place at Shibuya-cho's high-traffic bus terminal. With plenty of low-set hand rails to grind, this is an excellent area to learn the game's controls and practice trick combos. However, players should be mindful of the constant stream of vehicles that drive around the terminal's perimeter. A nearby chain-link gate leads down some stairs to the half-pipe that provides an alternate path between sub-areas.
  • Park Street: A small playground sits adjacent to bustling Park Street, a gently-curving avenue which crosses over the concrete half-pipe that runs beneath the length of the area and connects both to the top of Center Street and the Bus Terminal. An unused section of highway overpass is under construction next to the playground, and a large gap splits the overpass into two separate segments.
  • Center Street: This steep hillside area is split between two major streets that intersect at both the top and bottom of the hill, with several side-roads and alleyways winding between them. All vehicle traffic is restricted to the avenue that runs along the eastern side of this area; nimble Rudies can skitch their way up the hill quickly by latching onto the back of a moving vehicle. A chain-link gate at the top of the area leads back to Shibuya-cho's long half-pipe.

Kogane-cho

Kibogaoka Hill in Kogane-cho
Kibogaoka Hill in Kogane-cho

The "city of the sunset" is a residential and industrial waterfront district in east Tokyo-to which is ruled by Poison Jam, a gang of Rudies composed exclusively of rubber-mask-wearing kaiju movie fanatics. A large sewer connects Kogane-cho's three other sub-areas. Above ground, the tightly-packed residential buildings often provide superior vantage points and escape routes for Rudies fleeing from the city's Keisatsu police forces.

  • Residential District: The residential core of Kogane-cho is divided into an upper and a lower tier, both of which are bisected by a steep canal leading down into the Sewers. A separate row of homes built on a wooden dock to the north of the lower tier share destructible walls that Rudies can simply skate through to break them apart. The upper tier contains more residences and a one-way manhole shortcut that also drops into the Sewers. A water tower rises out of the sea to the west of the upper tier.
  • Sewers: This cavernous subterranean area appears to be Poison Jam's primary hideout. The large main chamber contains a broken catwalk spanning a river of green liquid sewage. Two more U-shaped sewer tunnels flank each side of the main chamber, and there is another much smaller room situated at the base of some stairs leading up from one side of the main sewage flow. Several access tunnels leading aboveground connect the Sewers to the Residential District, Factory Ruins and Kibogaoka Hill.
  • Factory Ruins: An open construction area hosting an abandoned factory, a junkyard and a power sub-station, as well as a few power lines hanging over a walled pit. An access tunnel leads from the factory's interior into Kogane-cho's Sewers. This sub-area gradually slopes upward from the junkyard pit in the east towards some high concrete walls on the west side; passing through the chain-link gate here and following the dirt path leads up to the peak of Kibogaoka Hill.
  • Kibogaoka Hill: A large block of residences on an incline that slopes down toward the waterfront. Players can traverse the rooftops in this area or drop between the buildings to explore a few side-alleys. Crashing through the windows of a warehouse at the base of Kibogaoka Hill connects back to the upper tier of the Residential District, and a nearby access tunnel links to the Sewers.

Benten-cho

Genkijomae Street in Benten-cho
Genkijomae Street in Benten-cho

The westernmost district of Tokyo-to and so-called "city of the night" is controlled by the Noise Tanks, a gang of high-tech otaku that dress like robots and use extra mechanical arms to spray their graffiti. Benten-cho's rail line serves as the main conduit between its six sub-areas, but several addtional shortcuts can also be utilized to quickly move between certain zones, including a subway. Thanks to its everlasting nighttime, this district is famous for its vast array of glowing neon signs that constantly bathe the streets in a shower of multi-colored light.

  • Genkijomae Plaza: A circular plaza with a prominent neon-lit pole in the center. The pole supports an elevated platform that can be accessed by grinding any of the five rails attached to it like the spokes of a wheel. There are several spots around the plaza where Rudies can reach these high rails, including the back side of a subway station entrance forming a steep incline. Once atop the pole, the player can grind to a few rooftops positioned along the plaza's southern edge; they can also exit the plaza to the west and north, which leads to Genkijomae Street and the rail line that borders the street to the north, respectively.
  • Genkijomae Street: This short neon-drenched street with a loop on the west end is fairly straightforward to navigate. A shortcut on the opposite end leads to Genkijomae Plaza, and the street connects to the Business District via three walkways on the north side that span across the Rail Yard below.
  • Business District: Benten-cho's largest sub-area consists of two blocks of tall office buildings surrounded by streets in a configuration that loosely resembles a figure eight. A series of elevated pedestrian walkways hang over the streets, providing ample opportunities for grinding in addition to the numerous guard rails and street dividers scattered around the area. Three more walkways on the south edge link to Genkijomae Street, and an underground passage accessed through the eastern cluster of buildings connects to Chinatown. The entrance to a subway station is located in the western cluster.
  • Chinatown: A series of narrow streets dividing three blocks of cramped residences and storefronts. The rooftops can be accessed in multiple ways, such as grinding up drain pipes or using parked vehicles as stepping-stones. The tall structure in the northwest corner contains stairs leading up to a drain pipe that spirals around the building's exterior and links to more pipes spanning above the streets; this is the only way to access the two highest rooftops in the area. Chinatown's southern exit connects to Benten-cho's rail line, and a passage on the west side leads to the Business District.
  • Rail Yard: The rail line which bisects Benten-cho widens near the center into a Rail Yard; several train cars are parked in two rows on the inactive track segments. While this area is easily entered by dropping from the elevated walkways bridging Genkijomae Street and the Business District, exiting the Yard is only possible by following the rail line east toward two gates connecting to Chinatown and Genkijomae Plaza.
  • Subway: Benten-cho's subway is totally separate from its surface rail line; as an optional area, players can easily overlook the subway line completely. While also containing plenty of rails and walls for performing trick combos, the subway's primary function is to provide a shortcut between Genkijomae Plaza and the west side of the Business District.

Bantam Street

Bantam Street rooftops
Bantam Street rooftops

A level that was added to the game's international release. Bantam Street appears to be modeled after a number of New York City's residential districts such as Harlem or Brooklyn. A set of stairs at a gas station positioned at the north end of the street allows Rudies to access the rooftops of several buildings, as well as an elevated train track running above the full length of Bantam Street. Crossing the tracks leads to a separate set of rooftops on the west side of the street. A skate park with multiple grind rails and a quarter-pipe is located through an alley behind the gas station. At the south end of Bantam, players can enter an empty building containing more stairs linking to the eastern rooftop area.

Grind Square

Elevated view of Grind Square
Elevated view of Grind Square

The second level added to the international release. It is based on the real-world Times Square intersection in midtown Manhattan. As the most vertically-oriented stage in the game, Grind Square demands proficiency in transferring between grindable rails, sometimes in quick succession. Two exterior lifts on either side of the intersection transport Rudies to the east and west rooftop areas. From here, players can navigate across a number of rails that criss-cross high above the streets to reach further rooftops at the north and south ends of Grind Square, as well as the roof of a small police building located in the very center of the intersection.

Rokkaku Group Building

The final level (officially labeled as "???") takes place at the top of the Rokkaku Group's large skyscraper headquarters in Tokyo-to. It is only seen during the "Final Groove" Story mission, which hosts the game's final boss fight.

The giant record atop Rokkaku HQ
The giant record atop Rokkaku HQ

Acting as a DJ inside an enclosed booth at the center of the roof, Goji Rokkaku controls an enormous spinning record that functions as the level's main platform. The roofs of four surrounding buildings can be reached by jumping from the record's edge, each of which links to another set of four outer platforms. These outer towers feature extra-large graffiti tags that must be sprayed over while avoiding the flamethrower attacks from Goji's giant rhinoceros robot. Once all four tags are completed, the robot self-destructs, and several of its pieces shatter Goji's booth; this allows the player to grind up one of two newly-formed rails and deliver the final blow to Goji himself.

Playable Characters

Soundtrack

Jet Grind Radio's funky and upbeat soundtrack was a big part in helping form the game's distinctive style. New songs were added in the North American and European releases of the game to cover more musical genres and round the soundtrack out. An American version of the soundtrack CD was released on September 18, 2012 by Sumthing Else Music Works to coincide with the re-release for digital platforms. However, the soundtrack only contains 10 songs from the original game with tracks composed by Hideki Naganuma and one track by Richard Jacques, along with 10 tracks from Jet Set Radio Future, all of which were composed by Hideki Naganuma.

Japanese Soundtrack CD
Japanese Soundtrack CD
  • Humming the Baseline - Hideki Naganuma
  • Let Mom Sleep - Hideki Naganuma
  • Moody's Shuffle - Hideki Naganuma
  • Rock It On - Hideki Naganuma
  • Grace and Glory - Hideki Naganuma
  • Sneakman - Hideki Naganuma
  • Sweet Soul Brother - Hideki Naganuma
  • That's Enough - Hideki Naganuma
  • Super Brothers - Guitar Vader
  • Magical Girl - Guitar Vader
  • Miller Ball Breakers - Deavid Soul
  • On the Bowl (A Fargus Remix) - Deavid Soul
  • Up-Set Attack - Deavid Soul
  • Yappie Feet - Deavid Soul
  • Funky Radio - B.B. Rights
  • Mischievous Boy - Castle Logical
  • Yellow Beam - F. Fields
  • 'Bout the City - Reps
  • Everybody Jump Around - Richard Jacques
  • Electric Tooth Brush - Toronto
  • Dunny Boy Williamson Show - Deavid Soul (Japanese Version Only)
  • Just Got Wicked - Cold (North American Version Only)
  • Slow - Professional Murder Music (North American Version Only)
  • Dragula - Rob Zombie (North American Version Only)
  • Improvise - Jurassic 5 (North American and European Versions Only)
  • Patrol Knob - Mixmaster Mike (North American and European Versions Only)
  • Recipe for the Perfect Afro - Feature Cast (European Version Only)
  • Many Styles - O.B. One (European Version Only)
  • Funky Plucker - Semi Detached (European Version Only)