APP OF THE DAY: Jet Set Radio review (iPhone and iPad)

The Dreamcast might have been a flop for Sega but it wasn't without its classics. Jet Set Radio was most definitely one of them. Falling into the more bizarre category of video games, it was about gangs of rollerblading graffiti artists who sped about the streets of a city called Tokyo-to. 

It asked you to do tricks and jump about Tony Hawk style but also introduced a time trial graffiti mechanic that saw you battling to save your home turf from invading taggers. Now translated for iOS, can the app retain its charm and does it hold up all these years later?

Jet Set Radio

Format
iOS
Price
£2.99
Where
iTunes

The short answer is yes, most definitely. We tested out Jet Set Radio on an iPad 4 and seeing this game in full HD for the first time, we realised we'd forgotten just how good it looks. The unusual cell-shaded art style is very individual and perfectly suits the quirky unusual approach of the game. 

Having the original music return was also a brilliant move, as the thumping hip-hop and punk soundtrack is a real highlight. Each character is just as bizarre as before and the game world, based very closely on Tokyo, is still exciting to explore all these years later.

There are a few issues which we hope will get ironed out in later updates. Namely, there's a noticeable amount of pop in during the game, which ruins an otherwise very polished product. The main problem though - and this tends to be the case with any 3D title - is the controls. 

Because you are on rollerskates in Jet Set Radio, the game requires quick and precise control inputs that a touchscreen-based joystick just can't replicate. It's not unplayable though, and with a bit of practice we found a lot of the irritation started to go.

As for the game itself, a few tweaks have been made to get more from the touchscreen. Menus and your gang's base are now negotiated using swipe controls. The Graffiti editor is also done using your fingers, as is painting the graffiti itself. All the new elements are done really well and don't detract from the overall feel of the game.

Sega continues to push out classics on iOS and with all the power that tablets are bringing, it was only a matter of time before Dreamcast games started appearing. Fingers crossed then that Jet Set Radio is just the start. Don't forget either that Crazy Taxi has also been released for iOS, should you want even more Dreamcast content.

As for Jet Set Radio, this is a game that earned a special place in our hearts many years ago. With our Dreamcast now boxed up and gathering dust, it is nice to be reminded what a great game it is. Given how difficult it really is to describe, we suggest a download, if only to show off what your iPad is capable of. One of our favourite gaming apps currently available.