Stripping out Jet Set Radio’s upbeat mix of original and licensed music can be considered vandalism far worse than that perpetrated by its roving band of cel-shaded graffiti artists. Sega’s proposal of a high-definition update to the cherished and influential Dreamcast game originally skated around the question, but now we know just how much of the music will remain intact: 16 tracks, which amounts to roughly half of the 30 shipped between the North American and European versions.
Sega told Joystiq it made every effort to pursue and re-license all the music, but the cost and availability of certain music publishers became a severe impediment. In the end, Jet Set Radio keeps its original music (composed by Hideki Naganuma), and several fan favorites like “Magical Girl” (Guitar Vader) and “Funky Radio” (B.B. Rights). I for one can survive without Rob Zombie.
Although the NTSC- and PAL-specific tracks didn’t make the cut, the levels developed for those versions (including Grind Square) will be included in this summer’s HD port. The preservation may not be flawless, but the presentation nearly is – Jet Set Radio’s bold and cartoonish aesthetic immensely benefits from the higher resolution, 16:9 display, and 60 frames-per-second output. Also, you now have a second analog stick to steer the camera.