When I think of Sega, I first usually think of Sonic the Hedgehog or Yakuza/Like a Dragon. However, after those two, I usually think of Jet Set Radio. While the series has few entries, it’s perhaps one of the more iconic Sega IPs. The original game is easily one of my favorite Dreamcast titles and is among the most memorable games I have played. Every aspect of the game oozes an infectious style that still holds up amazingly well today, at least for the most part. The cel-shaded visuals, the superb soundtrack, and the rollerblading gameplay (when the controls don’t get in the way) make the game an almost timeless classic that’s still worth playing.
That’s why it’s such a shame that Sega has relegated the series to crossovers and such over the years. Even if you haven’t played the original or its sequel, there is a good chance you recognize iconic songs such as Let Mom Sleep. However, the games themselves remain somewhat niche despite how unique and memorable they are. So, does Sega even have the incentive to make a new game in the series at all?
Other Developers Are Making Their Own Jet Set Radio
The upcoming Bomb Rush Cyberfunk isn’t an official Jet Set Radio game. However, it only takes a quick glance at it to see that it’s trying to be a Jet Set Radio game in all but name. The game will even feature music by Hideki Naganuma, the composer responsible for much of Jet Set Radio‘s soundtrack. The game looks so similar to the series it takes inspiration from that I don’t blame anyone for mistaking it as an official sequel.
While Bomb Rush Cyberfunk may be the most blatant example, there are other games out there that arguably take inspiration from Jet Set Radio. Take Hover for example, it may not be trying to directly emulate JSR‘s gameplay, but it clearly takes inspiration from it and also features music by Hideki Naganuma. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to JSR-inspired games. If you dig deeper, you’ll find several games incorporating elements from the series.
Some games don’t take blatant inspiration from JSR but have some apparent similarities. For example, look at Hi-Fi Rush. The gameplay may not resemble JSR at all, but the general tone and art direction do. They may both use cel-shading techniques, but the color palette and world also resemble each other as well. It’s clear several developers have a desire to make games that are at least similar to Jet Set Radio.
There May Be a New Game, but Is It Too Late?
Back in April, footage from a 2021 internal Sega meeting leaked online. This contained footage of a supposed Persona 3 remake, a never-before-seen build of Sonic Frontiers, and most importantly, a brief glimpse at a supposed new entry in the Jet Set Radio franchise. This lines up with a report by Bloomberg that claimed Sega was working on reboots for both Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi. Unless the game has been canceled internally since then, this project could be very far into development. However, until we get official promotional material for this game, we will likely know very little about it.
So, what’s the deal? Why has it taken so long for Sega to make a new JSR game? While the first game in the series has an HD re-release from 2012, the sequel is still an original Xbox exclusive with no remaster in sight. If these games didn’t spend much of their lives stuck as Dreamcast and Xbox exclusives, they may have had a better chance to attract a wider audience. However, we, unfortunately, don’t live in a reality where that’s the case.
It’s clear that people want a new Jet Set Radio game. It might not achieve any record-breaking sales numbers, but it could turn a nice profit if developed with a reasonable budget. I believe it’s better late than never for Sega to revive their legacy IPs, but now they have to contend with a market where there’s more competition. If Hi-Fi Rush and Bomb Rush Cyberfunk are any indications, we’re likely going to see more attempts at capturing the energy and spirit of the Jet Set Radio series from other developers.
Hope for Jet Set Radio
Jet Set Radio has been gone for too long, but it could come back in a big way. If Sega is willing to give a new game the time it deserves, I believe that it could succeed. This series deserves a second chance at life and it’s looking like it will get it. While the first two games have a great visual style, it will be interesting to see what modern technology can accomplish. Imagining the level of detail a sequel may bring is exciting.
I don’t know if a new Jet Set Radio can attract a wider audience, but there seems to be a demand for more stylized games these days. There’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that and market to that audience. A new game could introduce many new people to this series, which could even give the original games a second chance at life. This series may still have a lot to offer.
If you somehow haven’t experienced the Jet Set Radio games, I recommend you check them out. The original is still easy to acquire if you have a Steam account. Considering the age of the game, it will likely run well on most modern PCs. As mentioned earlier, Jet Set Radio Future never received any ports after its initial release on the original Xbox, which is too bad. However, if you enjoy the first game, I recommend seeking out Future. Be sure to stay tuned for updates on the Jet Set Radio franchise!