Sega recently announced a revival of Jet Set Radio, but the classic series deserves way more love and attention than just a battle royale.
Segarecently announced its intention to relaunch the Radio Jet Set and crazy cab franchises as battle royales leave a lot to be desired, especially Jet Set Radio, which deserves something closer to a full-fledged reboot. Radio Jet Set only saw a re-release with a modest HD remaster in 2012, and since then the series has been largely dormant. While it’s understandable that Sega would potentially want to continue the trend started by fortnite with these new battle royale reboots, it feels like a big mistake to apply it to a franchise like Radio Jet Set.
Radio Jet Set has a cult following with a vocal fan base. The series is set in the semi-fictional city of Tokyo-to, where gangs of “rudies” – or young people who like to skate across town and graffiti tag property – clash in turf wars, escaping to the police and confronting the Rokkaku Corporation. . This group seeks to take over the world via a disk that can supposedly summon a demon. Fans latched onto this delightfully absurd story, the game’s vibrant, shady art style, and the legendary soundtrack produced and curated by Hideki Naganuma for the original title and sequel. However, fans are clamoring for a new entry (or even a port of the superior sequel, Jet Set Radio Future) for almost two decades now since the last release on the original Xbox. Sadly, those fans had been largely ignored until 2021 when Sega expressed interest in the reboot. Radio Jet Set.
But to prune Radio Jet Set for a battle royale audience, much of what makes the original title unique should be distilled down to its simplest form. To create a battle royale in 2022 is to face stiff competition from fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone. Besides the fact that these games already have a particular kind of gaming audience in mind, Radio Jet Set occupies an entirely different niche than those two series. Which makes Radio Jet Set unique is multiple: roam freely in a wild city, battle colorful rivals, customize graffiti art to tag buildings, and engage with eccentric DJ Professor K. Together they create a specific experience that can’t be replicated on a huge scale when a business needs to consider the various challenges of live service games.
Jet Set Radio does not fit into a Battle Royale setting
Obstacles such as licenses and game feel would have to be overcome. A part of the soul Radio Jet Set lies in its musical foundations. But Jet set Composer Hideki Naganuma’s return to Sega seems unlikely, several talented producers like Tee Lopes exist who would no doubt understand the assignment. But even so, licensing in live service games means that eventually some of these songs will fade away and detract from a world designed with music in mind. Radio Jet Set leans heavily on its arcade feel, which might fade when 8-64 players join the fray. The game’s physics would require an enormous amount of QA and would likely lead to fan dissatisfaction if not handled perfectly. Those same arcade-like missions that made the first two games fun to learn and master would likely turn into nothing more than repeating “daily challenges” to earn money to buy more character skins.
If Sega is not careful, then there will be more competition in terms of Radio Jet Set spiritual successor, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, slated for release later this year. The Japanese publisher must remember that Radio Jet Set is a series about self-discovery; being grieved exploring the world and claiming the city as the players’ territory while the plot unfolds seems like an unpleasant time. However, the series has been on hiatus for the better part of two decades and, at the very least, deserves something more than just a free-for-all battle royale. Radio Jet Set deserves another chance to revisit what made it so special in the first place.
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