Sega's decision to exit the hardware business in 2001 was a massive announcement. For those that were gaming back in the early '90s probably remember the constant Sega vs. Nintendo debate and the idea of either company not producing hardware was ludicrous. Unfortunately for Sega, they had several missteps after the huge success of the Genesis / Mega Drive and they were hemorrhaging money so much that they had no choice but to focus solely on the software side of things.
At the time it was discontinued, the Dreamcast was barely over a year old in North America and it forced Sega to reconsider where to release the games they already had in development. Jet Set Radio Future is one such game and it would eventually find a home on the original Xbox. This game is sort of an oddball in that it's not necessarily considered a "sequel", but more so a re-imagining / remake kinda thing. It features very similar gameplay and although it shares a large number of characters, some of the designs are different and is generally meant to be considered as part of alternative universe to the first game.
If you've never played one of these games before, they're sort of like an extreme sports game (like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater) melded together with 3D platformer mechanics. Your character uses inline skates at all times and you can perform tricks, but I certainly wouldn't consider this to be a sports game by any means. As you progress through the story, new areas will unlock and you'll have certain objectives to meet, most of which revolve around spray painting graffiti on stuff, including enemies.
Yep, that's right, you have to fight enemies in this game and it's as awkward as it sounds. You don't get any weapons or anything, but rather you have to "tag" your enemies by spray painting them. Of course, they're not just going to let you do it without fighting back, so you have to be able to maneuver quickly and avoid taking too much damage from their weapons (which come from a much larger arsenal.) I though the combat was a bit easier when compared to the first one and the controls were a little better, but it'll likely take some getting used to for new players.
In addition to combat, you'll be exploring some huge open world-esque levels. Although you'll revisit levels from time to time as the story progresses, there are still a fair number of them in the game and they're loaded with secrets to find, many of which can be quite difficult to reach. Once again, the controls are little iffy here and feel rather "floaty" compared to games like Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. This can lead to some frustration during some the jumping sections, but you don't take much in the way of fall damage, so it's not too bad.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the eclectic soundtrack for Jet Set Radio Future. Much like the first game, the music here is an important cog in the machine that is Jet Set Radio. I'm not great with the genres on offer, but everything sounds hip hop / punk to me. There isn't a single track on here that I'd listen to on my own accord, but everything fits so, so perfectly here and I wouldn't want it any other way. Unfortunately, the soundtrack also serves as a double-edged sword since it likely hinders the possibility of ever getting a digital re-release. But hey, the first game saw the light of day on Steam and other storefronts with most of its soundtrack in tact, so who knows?
Jet Set Radio Future is an excellent follow-up to an already excellent game. It offers a very similar experience, but also irons out some of the rough edges. I consider both games worthy of a playthrough and I'd recommend playing the original game first so you can see the progression that was made. You can't go wrong with either one though, so give 'em a shot!
Played On: Xbox
Completion Date: 2/16/23
Time: 10 hours 31 minutes