Time Shouldn’t Forget Jet Set Radio Future

You should have a very decent sense of what you like about a game after over two decades of playing it on and off. Jet Set Radio Future, on the other hand, is unique. It’s my favorite game, nearly to the exclusion of all others. But the thing I like about it is how difficult it is to understand. I’m at a loss for words. But I’m looking for the words!


Jet Set Radio Future is a skateboarding, spraypainting, and trick-doing game. I adore everything about it; it’s lovely and inspirational, and it makes me feel sophisticated and in command, as well as screw-the-man and all that crap. But it’s not the aspect of the game that I enjoy the best. It features fantastic characters and a lovely, bouncy, and always the unexpected soundtrack. I enjoy all of it as well, but it isn’t what I enjoy most about the game – not even Gum, I apologize.

Jet Set Radio Future

I’m a huge fan of Jet Set Radio’s Future

In other games, I occasionally get a feeling of what I like best about Jet Set Radio Future. Let’s give it a go. There’s a new breed of game that I’m starting to see, and it’s mostly on iOS because of the touchscreen. Model games, or diorama games, are what I’d name them. You have a three-dimensional model on the screen, right, and manipulating this object, this piece of digital sculpture, rotating it about with a swipe or whatever, zooming in, uncovering all its hidden features, is at least half the enjoyment of the game. Captain Toad is an example of this type of game. The Apple Arcade game Get Out Kids contains a hint of it. All of these lovely 3D things, with all of their intricate details made and placed for you to admire touch, and spin. When the thing is this lovely to look at and fool about with, I don’t believe it matters what game it is. Is Monument Valley a wonderful game, or is it just fun to play about with the model temples and buildings, twisting, spinning, and attempting to figure out what they’re made of?

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This is the sense I get from Jet Set Radio Future, and it’s the thing I like best about it – and it’s strongest when I’m not moving. The stages of this game, the levels of this game, are miniature models. I know this is true of every game to some level, but I feel it so much more strongly with Jet Set Radio Future. I’m glad to skate over these spots, but what I really want to do is take them in my hands and turn them around, looking at how they’re built and getting a feeling of how they were planned. They also appear to split down the design rather elegantly: there’s the shape of something, and then there’s the texturing.

For me, Rokkaku-dai Heights encapsulates this more than any other portion of the game. It’s a forgotten shanty, a jumble of old and run-down houses piled on top of one another and abandoned to crows. You reach there via a sewage pipe, and it’s like a small garbage island surrounded by a wraparound vista of over-sized, inhuman-scale industry, the stark alien globes of gas towers, and the spindly rigs and chimneys of skyscrapers.