from the shelf #003, we have:

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One of the best games produced for Sega’s Dreamcast, a system with a lot of good games that cannot play DVDs (like its contemporary competitor which wasn’t much more expensive, the PS2), which is why not many people talk a lot about its good games. Anyways, the features of these from the shelf are two-fold: one, to make me enjoy my collection of goods a lot more. The second is to write words about the stuff that no one else has written.

And this one, well, a lot of people have written about it. A lot of nice things about it being a wonderful game. They are right. Its cel shaded graphics still look gorgeous, with no lack of framerate. The huge levels are amazingly fun to just dash through, making the repetitive nature of the levels a bonus instead of a minus, especially with the creative mission and shifting minion based gameplay.

It’s hard to say how beautiful the learning curve of the game progresses. Just as you get more familiar with the levels, harder to reach spots need to be spraypainted for your crew’s dominance, and the enemies become more difficult. Yes, this is a wonderful game.

A lot of people have also talked about how cool Radio remains, in the game. Blasting the coolest underground japanese hip hop no one in America has heard, missions are bookended with hype instead of skippable moments, and, even better, the radio becomes an active part in the story. For one thing, this game is well written.

But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about how innocent and noble this game is.

Developed when spray paint as a Gallery Art had already landed on the Time magazine, and was a hot button issue for everyone, it pit whoever played it in the rollerskates of a vandal. Of someone spraypainted over the ugly parts of the citscape while remaking its handrails into props for miracles. It was great seeing these ideas remade, and together, for the first time. But they felt natural: disrupting people’s daily business with tricks that make them dodge, or murals that make them stop to look, seems to come from the same energy after playing this game.

Which is good. As the 1up writing I linked to earlier mentioned, it is a very young game. Flouting rules such as having more than 5 playable levels, it is incredibly short, and you spend most of the levels crossing over terrain you’ve already progressed. But, as blisteringly dextrous as you have to be to spraypaint the quick rhythmic motions of spray painting, and as creative with tricks as you have to be to escape the cops, it’s about more than just the energy of the artist.

jet set rad violence against vandalsIt’s about the arduous virtue and agility one needs to express themselves in a world where everyone wants to express themselves. Rival gangs are foes, police are foes, even the level itself causes you damage if you don’t progress it properly. And you’re constantly moving throughout the game, avoiding the violence of the cops.

And I do want to emphasize the diligence of the cops in this game. They want to pulverize you.

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And just for painting over (already defaced and bad) graffiti. The cartooony nature even repeats this point. As much as these cops beat you down, and say “DIE DIE DIE”, it’s hard not to see them as a little less than human. They are willing to kill youth. And, what’s worse, they can’t on foot.

jet set radio more violence against vandalists

They have to call in helicopters. And that doesn’t even work.

And it won’t, ever.

I just wanted to write about that feeling, about seeing the violence of law enforcement against vandals and artists in such a cartoony and distorted light, and to package such a feeling in a game that all the hip youth currently becoming adults these days.

Yea, it’s gettin even harder to keep paying attention to the opening disclaimer of the game, “Graffiti is an art, but vandalism is a crime,” especially when you get such cool music blasted through the soundtrack, provided from a radio DJ too live to broadcast, of course, but the nobility of Radio in this game is perhaps another post.

For now, let us just have a moment of silence for the nobility, the tragic futility and the enviable eternity, of the artist.

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