Behind The Scenes: Jet Set Radio
Over ten years after it rolled onto the scene, Jet Set Radio is fondly remembered, yet rarely copied. What enabled the development team to create one of the most memorable games of the Dreamcast era?
Kikuchi and Ueda have constantly kept the game fresh in people’s memories by inserting references into other games, particularly in the Yakuza series, which Ueda jokes, “is in the same universe as JSR, like the Marvel or DC universes.” The last boss of JSR can be found in a public restroom in the first Yakuza game, begging for toilet paper, “See, right there. The same universe,” Ueda points out.
Bringing up the various elements that he left scattered throughout the games he’s worked on brings out an excitement rarely seen in the usually calm Ueda. However, he lets Kikuchi explain most of the influences. “See this?” he asks, pointing towards a portrait of the character Garam in the JSR manual. “See his necklace? It’s a skull, and while we were working on Panzer Dragoon Orta, I found it on the stomach of one of the bosses. It’s a strange shape, isn’t it? I asked Mr. Ueda what it was, and he told me that it’s the skull of another famous Sega character”
While we wouldn’t hold our breath for a sequel (see Why No Sequel?) there is a glimmer of hope for those who would like to see JSR make a return. We asked the two developers point-blank whether we could look forward to playing the game on XBLA, PSN, or some other downloadable game service, and at first they weren’t forthcoming. Kikuchi simply told us “maybe.” But no sooner had the word left his mouth than a wry smile crossed his face and Ueda burst out laughing. He pointed towards Kikuchi and said, “Look at his face, his nose gets longer when he says ‘maybe.’” If that isn’t confirmation enough for you, a recently leaked screenshot from what appears to be a French language version of Xbox Live Arcade (or PartnerNet, Microsoft’s XBLA test bed), shows Jet Set Radio as a playable game. Fans aren’t going to get their long-awaited sequel, but Xbox owners will likely get an upscaled, HD JSR.
As much as we would like to see a sequel, there are far more ignoble fates for a beloved series, something that Sega fans are well aware of. Perhaps it’s for the best that JSR be left alone. Kikuchi seems content to work on the Yakuza series, and it looks like he’s bringing a certain brand of Dreamcast-era Sega craziness to the next (zombie-filled) entry in the traditionally serious series, Yakuza: Of The End. We’d love to see a hi-def outing for Beat and crew, but the heart of the series lives on in other Sega titles.