Thursday, November 22, 2012

Jet Set Radiooooo!

I like the Graffiti maker..

You better believe I got in on some of that sweet sweet Jet Set Radio love as soon as it was available and indeed, it was just Tuesday night, the very first night it was available that I had the game downloaded and picked into it for the first time.  I don't remember a lot about the game in its initial release on the Dreamcast, though I own it and still have very easy access to the disk and theoretically could have, at any point, tried to connect the console to my TV and re-experienced it.  But really, it wouldn't have been the same and after looking at the crisp appearance of it on the Vita's screen, I'm equal parts glad that I waited, and equally wish I'd tried it just to see the depth of the upgrade, but no matter.  I have tasted of the sweet sweet fruit that is the Vita re-release of the game and I am happy on the whole, even though I fear some of my affection for the game might be steeped a little too heavily in nostalgia.  Not too much, of course, and not in a big way, but still, there's some things I am poking at with a frowny face because I do not like them.

First off, from a positive view-point, the game does look incredibly wonderful thanks in no small part to the art style and the use of vibrant colors that makes everything pop deliciously.  And for what it's worth, I -believe- I heard complaints that the FPS chugged a bit in the console versions, but I've not experienced anything like that which honestly surprised me a bit, as the game does get chaotic fairly early in terms of a lot of things on screen that would make it chug.  Maybe that'll change in later stages, but I'll just believe that when I see it, really, because I have faith that it's pretty well set and can't help but wonder if the slightly extended wait was simply to optimize it; if it was, it certainly worked.  And even more impressive, I think, is the way that custom graffiti (as seen above) comes out looking, for the rather rudimentary editor you're given to play with.  I couldn't add the 'ed' to the end of it, but hey, 'Kupower" is a thing if by virtue of 'Kupowered' as a word is suggesting a thing that is powered by 'Kupower'.  There, I have made a thing.  Enjoy it.

Perhaps I was not in a way to enjoy the overall sounds of Jet Set Radio when I was younger, since I didn't remember it being quite so....well, fantastic, but I love it now and that's certainly what matters.  Whether it's the upbeat, enjoyable tracks playing during the stages themselves, never managing to be monotonous despite their extended exposure, or it's the exaggerated, excited voice of Professor K as he slings down the story as it is in his own way (while making sure to yell "Jet Set Radioooooo!" whenever possible), it's all an absolute treat for the ears.  I've taken to using headphones in general when I play my Vita because of the Youtube app (since I find some videos hard to hear otherwise) and it's games like this that truly make that worth it.  I'd put some serious thought into arguing that it is, in fact, a necessity, which is certainly not something I say about most games, but a strong audio direction like this has practically begs for it and you're doing yourself a disservice by not adhering to that.

The only gripe comes in when you slowly start to realize that while Jet Set Radio is a fun game, it is not an easy game by any means.  The controls are from the past to be sure, and precision is not its strongest suit.  It's an acquired taste, of course, as we've grown beyond such things with advancement, but that does not make them -bad-, simply harder and requiring more skill to truly make your own.  I have my complaints about this, a lot of them vocally as I play the game, but I don't begrudge it as I can feel myself getting better at it with every minute that I play it, since that is simply how it works.  As I go through the levels, it's easy to tell that the things that were issues in the earlier ones become trivial tasks to perform and when the time comes that I'll be able to try them again, it will be sweet, sweet vindication as I see that skill put to work.  When that day comes, I will be ready.

For the price of free, considering you have a Playstation Plus subscription, which you almost -need- to have at this point unless you hate value, Jet Set Radio is proving to be well and truly beyond the $10 it otherwise sells for.  Maybe it's just my joy at being 'reunited' with the game as one is reunited with an old friend and I'm simply swept up in the fun of it all, but I'm having an absolute blast with it despite the minimal grumbles it causes.  But grumbling is good.  Grumbling means that I'm invested, which I clearly am.  And I'm only going to get sucked in more and more as the grooves keep coming, getting to some of the even more memorable tunes.  Perhaps I'll even get to the end this time, which I'm quite sure that I never did back on the Dreamcast, which means it's something I am looking to rectify.

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