Jet Grind Radio

Leave it to those wacky folks at Sega to take an innocent pastime like skating and using spray paint to vandalize private property and turn it into a video game involving kidnapping, the military, and eventually demons.

No fooling.

Jet Grind Radio (a.k.a. Jet Set Radio just about everywhere else in the world) starts out with a guy (Beat) who has a burning desire to start his own inline-skate gang. He quickly recruits a couple of folks hanging out on the street (Tab and Gum), and gets to work carving out a niche for his fledgling group.

He does this by skating around the different parts of the city (Tokyo-to, the names in this game are very creative), using the spraypaint scattered everywhere to tag a certain amount of objects. “Tagging” in this game is “street” for “putting your gang’s logo on it”. Tag enough things in a rival gang’s territory, and two things will happen:

  1. The local police force will send out increasingly-deadly means to stop you, one detective → squads of cops in riot gear → helicopters → tanks and heavy artillery. It seems a bit excessive to me, but I’ve never been in charge of ridding the streets of rampant graffiti activities.
  2. Your group will challenge another group to a race of sorts. You skate around a circuit with three members of the rival gang. Your goal is to catch up with them and tag them in the back with your gang’s logo. Then you get to control their area of town, somehow.

Central to all of this is the pirate radio station, run by Professor K. He does the exposition between acts and is supposedly the one feeding the music into the gigantic headphones that some of the characters wear.

The actual story of the game is completely indecipherable. It involves pieces of an evil record, a corrupt organization, and demons in a shape that roughly resembles a hippopotamus.

No kidding.

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