Format reviewed: Dreamcast
Submitted by: Craig Hawkins
Take to the vibrant streets of Tokyo-to on a pair of rollerblades in this console-defining masterpiece to do battle with rival 'rudies' and establish your gang's authority over the area with graffiti tags.
Meanwhile, an overzealous police force led by the psychotic Captain Onishima is on your tail. Onishima objects to you 'vandalising' the streets and takes action by way of laying waste to the city in trying to catch you. It's like Tony Hawk's Skateboarding mixed in with a little Kunio and GTA attitude.
“Over the hood, through the streets and right into your brain.”
Upon JSR's unveiling all focus centred on the cel-shaded graphics, the revolutionary technique that produces 3D comic book-style characters that exude far more personality than traditional polygonal models. Many games since JSR, including the Zelca series, have employed it to great effect.
Smilebit was careful to put as much effort into all aspects of the game. The title derives from Tokyo-to's pirate radio station of the same name, hosted by DJ Professor K. K is a professor of hard-core beats and being cool. The game therefore sounds as spectacular as it looks with a soundtrack incorporating hip-hop, punk and J-pop.
The gameplay lives up to the presentation. A tutorial guides you through the controls, which quickly become second nature. Rollerblading around the streets of Tokyo-to, grinding along rails, pulling off tricks, hitching rides on the bumpers of cars and making your way across the tops of buildings via cranes all contribute to the ultimate playground.
Graffiti is applied via our old friend the QTE, prompting you to follow the onscreen spraying instructions. You can personalise your tags in the editor. Bashing into rival gangmembers as they're busily tagging a wall and stealing their spray cans is another source of illicit pleasure.
You're given the freedom to approach each stage as you wish. Your priority is to locate the red arrows scattered around the city and tag whatever they're pointing towards, which tends to be public property. This caused a minor media kafuffle and provides the most likely reason for JSR being one Dreamcast game given the red light over a pitched Wii port.