Hello there! Don’t mind me, Mr. Winfried Cobblesnuff. I’m just smoking my pipe and snifting some brandy while I read passages of Milton in front of a blazing hearth. Whilst here, I tend to pontificate very objectively and very deeply on the socio-political merits of video gaming and their larger inclinations. Yes, this is a place for calculating science and method, not boyish fits of idealism, prose or revolution. We must do as we have done and continue to do so infinitely.
So, you can imagine my dismay when I was approached by a seedy-looking fellow purveying a video game of the most-interesting title of Jet Set Radio HD. Worry not, reader, I was not a babe to such worldly measures, for I had–in the unrefined and tribal days of my youth–both heard of and played such a game, though it was curiously missing the HD moniker and the respective output resolutions. Yes, times were simpler when I was a naive child, unblinded by nostalgia.
Upon returning to my library, I hastily played this Necronomicon of sorts, kindling all of it’s pagan, smoke-screened memories of my youth, where anarchy, magnetically-powered skates and graffiti riddled my mind. Much to my surprise, the carnal ideologies of my youth returned with startling haste. Within moments I was returned to a state of young-adulthood and, against the development of my aged palate, enjoying the fictional miscreant I had become! I was playing an intrepid mix of skater, sectioned explorer and item hunter, now fully fleshed out with Trophies and Achievements. Truly something impressive both then and now, unrivaled in ambition.
As I leaped from rail to half-pipe to bus, spraying tags and decals like a fireman on rampage, I felt a delightful twinge of satisfaction as I performed all these actions (and more, I shamefully admit) in beautifully-rendered HD visuals. However, it must be noted that amongst the dazzling array of tricks and grinds I found it seemingly more-difficult and less-refined than my memories alluded to. Perhaps all my years of playing “extreme sports” games, with their snap-to grinds and ramps, has weakened my skills over the years.
And the music, yes, the very honeyed words of the Fates themselves! I felt an intense throbbing from my cardiac muscles to the very back of my neck, my head nodding with the savage percussion of these long-lost melodies. The orchestrated and calculated scores of modern, high-concept gaming but a frail specter of the doughty beast before me. What was I feeling? Winfried Cobblesnuff, you are a man of higher reasoning.
More yet was the spectrum of colors before my lucid, dream-like eyes. Verdant shades and hues beyond compare of those today. I strained to find brown, hulking military men anywhere amongst the cavalcade of tones and lines, seeming drafted by Pythagoras himself set in color by none other than Gauguin from his Caribbean abode. Surely, for the paltry price asked, Jet Set Radio HD is more than worthy of your coin, be it only for the inspired and revelatory images cast.
Eventually, I did have to set controller to table, emerging from the child-like state back into the real world of video games. But, I will forever carry with me the lingering flame to ride with Beat, Gum and Tab–the most motley of partners. And, even as I look back through my monocled eyes, viewing Jet Set Radio through the very lens of criticism, I find it very hard to find its faults of slippery controls and problematic level design crippling.
It reminds me too much of my wandering youth and the immense optimism and ambition we all felt. When the consoles were afresh with sparkling, crackling magics and men toiled to be different, not the same.
While, by comparison, it is hampered and at times unrefined, the very core of it remains the same: teenage, rebellious and oh-so fun. It managed to envigor me, Mr. Winfried Cobblesnuff, with its sanguine performance and brimming charisma, not how it failed to be perfect. In the end, though, I cannot feasibly go back to the ardor of Jet Set Radio HD youth. An intoxicating draught, an elixir of youth indeed.