Friday, September 16, 2016

Soundtrack September: Jet Grind Radio

Game: Jet Set Radio / Jet Grind Radio (2000)
Platforms: Dreamcast, initially (now numerous)
Composers: various artists

Sega's best game innovations came in the twilight years of their days as a console powerhouse. The Sega Dreamcast, their final offering to the console market, hosted some of the most whacked-out novelties seen to date – Shenmue, Seaman, Crazy Taxi and Power Stone, to name a few big ones.

Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio in English-speaking regions) fit in nicely with that array of unique games, oozing with street smarts and attitude. The unique visual style afforded by the then-new graphical technique of cell shading, coupled with an eclectic soundtrack made rollerblading around Shibuya-cho, Benten-cho and Kogane-cho (modelled after various Tokyo-area commercial, residential and industrial districts, respectively) feel real good.

Since the game's visuals conjure punk and hip-hop sentiments, the combination of sloppy rock tunes, electro jams and rap that underpins the action is appropriate. It may not be the best soundtrack from a technical standpoint (and it bears noting that this is a licensed soundtrack, however obscure the artists on it may be), but it still has a fond, spray paint-stinking place in my heart.

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