Last month, Sega treated Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners to a dose of classic gaming with the re-release of a Dreamcast favorite, Jet Set Radio. A game originally produced by the team at Smilebit years ago, this skating/graffiti spraying game features plenty of vivid atmosphere, as you follow a group of colorfully dressed gang members across a futuristic Tokyo landscape. It's certainly gathered its fans over the years, and being reintroduced at the price of $9.99 (or 800 Microsoft points), it's bound to get a few more.
But that's not the only place that the GG's (the street gang) are ending up. Sega announced that Jet Set Radio is also making a stop on the PlayStation Vita, as a downloadable game. Every bit of classic goodness from the original game will be making the cut in this new version, and some additional features are also being added for good measure.
In the game, you'll divide your attention between three particular young kids looking to make an impact on their city – the glasses-wearing Beat, the hoodie-adorning Tab and the helmet-wearing female Gum. You can choose who you want to play as after completing a few tutorial events, getting you used to the controls within the game. From there, you'll go through various parts of the city, looking for areas to "tag" (spray paint) while running afoul of rival gangs and avoiding the police, led by a trigger happy inspector.
(The gangs are easy enough to deal with, as you can run into them and steal their paint, making them scatter as a result. The police, however, will hamper your progress and do damage to your health. You're best off running away from them.)
Like the 360 and PS3 ports of the game, Jet Set Radio's controls will be configured to work with the PlayStation Vita. You'll be able to use a speed-up option to whisk through the city streets, while jumping in the air to perform tricks (not Tony Hawk's Pro Skater style – they just happen randomly) and grinding on rails for bonus style points. You can also pick up random spray cans throughout each stage, and then, once you're ready to tag, follow simple on-screen prompts with the directions they're pointing in to apply the paint.
Early stages are rather simple at first, but as you go on, you'll face new challenges, like more aggressive cops (the SWAT team shows up at several points, complete with gas pellets), harder-to-reach spray points in each stage, and trickier level designs, requiring you to use more of your abilities, such as skating along walls and gaining height off of a circular ramp.
For the Vita version of Jet Set, Sega is working to make use of the system's functionality, in a number of ways. For instance, the Vita's camera integration will play a part, probably when it comes to creating your own custom graffiti. You can also use the touch sensors for spraying purposes, though we have yet to see this in action.
Based upon what we HAVE seen, though, the controls are configured quite well on the PS Vita's set-up. True, the spray button is assigned to the same place as the camera adjustment button, which can be confusing, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be tagging cars, vans and walls like a pro.
One other huge asset to Jet Set Radio is its presentation, and Sega has done well in converting the game to the mobile front. The graphics are just as colorful as the other HD versions of the game, whether you're skating through a mid-city square in daylight, coasting through the streets at night, or fighting your way through a rural neighborhood, while an orange dusk setting hangs about you. The cel-shaded characters and animation continue to look just as good as ever, and the formatting across the PS Vita screen assures that nothing has been "scrunched" in the translation. This isn't a "hurry up" port, but rather a good looking presentation that looks right at home on the handheld.
Likewise, the soundtrack is still one of the most creative ones we've heard in years, featuring some great dance and techno tunes, as well as a few U.S.-produced selections, like Rob Zombie. And Professor K still provides a thunderous narration through each stage, bellowing "JET SET RADIOOOOO!" whenever he gets a chance.
Sega has remained mum on whether Jet Set Radio for PS Vita supports Cross-Buy, meaning you may have to plunk cash down on it again, even if you already own the PS3 version. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a fresh experience to take with you on the Vita, Jet Set Radio is the go-to game when it arrives in the PlayStation Store on October 16th.