Say the words "Jet Set Radio" to a fan and, once they stop smiling, they'll tell you all about the game's "vibe", its music, its eccentric cast, the way it let them dabble in a little virtual tourism of the Japanese capital. On acid.

Which is funny, because the game isn't actually about any of those things. It's about graffiti.


The entire point of Jet Set Radio is that you're in a street gang, and like any other street gang, you have to plaster every empty wall around you with a tag or, if the wall's big enough, an elaborate piece.

So that's what you do. It's almost all you do in the game. You skate around, avoiding the cops and rival gangs, and every time you have half a second to spare, you pull out an aerosol can and you go to work.


It's what I think, more than the game's vibrancy, is the key reason Jet Set Radio carved itself such a loyal and dedicated fanbase. Because really, how many other games make the art of graffiti a core concept?


While many games use it as a peripheral feature (first-person shooters and their decals, for example), or simply set themselves in a time or place where graffiti is prominent (normally contemporary American cities), only a handful have actually bothered trying to turn the act of spraying aerosol paint on a wall into a video game.

Recently, there was side-scroller Sideway: New York. And the awful Marc Ecko's Getting Up. And...that's about it.

Jet Set, on the other hand, didn't just include it, it did it justice. The act of spraying was played out like a mini-game, players having to match corresponding thumbstick movements, while the art of designing your own pieces wasn't forgotten, the Dreamcast original allowing users to create and upload their own images.


As a little celebration of that, then, here's a gallery of some of the game's original, default graffiti selections.

This image was lost some time after publication.

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Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends. You'll find Total Recall stories every Mon-Fri between 11pm and Midnight ET.