Last week, Microsoft surprised a number of Xbox One owners by announcing a list of original Xbox titles that would be compatible with the system, with many of them arriving this Tuesday. This includes some elite favorites, including SSX 3, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Conker: Live & Reloaded and Jade Empire, along with a slew of Star Wars titles coming next week.
But one game that fans didn’t see on the list -- but desperately wanted -- was Jet Set Radio Future. This futuristic skating/graffiti-spraying game has become the stuff of legend on the original Xbox, and fans were hoping they would be able to skate their way through Neo Tokyo on Microsoft’s new machine. Alas, that isn’t the case.
Why though? Is there something holding back this Xbox classic from turning heads on a new console? Surprisingly enough, there is.
First of all, Sega may be looking to explore its original Xbox library and bring over a number of titles before it jumps in with both feet with Jet Set Radio Future. For instance, the action/shooter Gunvalkyrie is considered by many to be an old-school classic, with beautiful visuals and sound, along with razor-sharp alien-blasting gameplay. And let’s not forget Sega Soccer Slam either. The game was originally made backward compatible on Xbox 360 a while back, and has become a cult favorite since. Introducing it on Xbox One wouldn’t be the worst idea out there.
There are other games to consider as well that would likely be popular based on franchise alone, like the underappreciated Shadow the Hedgehog and House of the Dead III.
But when it comes down to it, a bigger problem could be getting in the way of Jet Set Radio Future’s port to Xbox One -- and it’s a hard one to overlook.
One thing that makes Jet Set Radio Future stand out from other Sega-licensed fare is its amazing soundtrack. There are still lots of people on social media who will sing along to “Understand the Concept of Love!” if you mention those words in any way shape or form.
But here’s the thing -- that soundtrack is years old, and Sega may have a tough time trying to re-license it all for the game’s re-release. After all, if it were eligible for Xbox One backward compatibility, Sega would have to make it available as a digital release, along with any physical copies that are in the wild -- and that means having to secure all those musical licenses again. Ask anyone, that’s bound to be a nightmare.
So is there a way around this problem? Well, there is...but we’re not sure how fans would feel about it.
In the past, Sega managed to re-release the game Crazy Taxi on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 form. While fans appreciated being able to cruise through city streets at top speed again, there was a noticeable change -- the soundtrack.
The original arcade soundtrack features the likes of the Offspring, Bad Religion and more. But when you play these new versions, you may notice that the soundtrack is drastically different, with some new artists in their place. People still loved the game, but didn’t really favor the new soundtrack compared to the old one.
Now, Sega could find a way around that problem with a re-release of Jet Set Radio Future, but that means cooking up a whole new soundtrack as a result -- and considering how iconic the soundtrack is, that may not sit well with fans. But a re-release would certainly be better than nothing.
And to be fair, Sega did reinstate the original Crazy Taxi soundtrack in future releases of the game, so nothing’s impossible. The company may simply be biding its time to try and get the full JSRF soundtrack intact before it jumps off the deep end and ports the game to the new hardware.
Jet Set Radio Future not coming to the Xbox would be a hard pill to swallow, but not totally the end of the world. Yes, it’s a fantastic game and yes, we’d love to play it again. But Sega’s got an uphill battle in trying to get it ported, and seeing it changed from its different form may not be what fans want.
Now, here’s why we say “it’s really not the end of the world.” There has been some evidence indicating that a new Jet Set Radio could emerge. Sega hasn’t officially greenlit anything, but it’s safe to say that interest is high in its return. Considering that the company has been going all out to revive as many classics as it can, don’t be surprised if Jet Set eventually makes a return, with a bold new world that takes advantage of the Xbox One (or PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch) from the ground up -- and a soundtrack to match.
So although Jet Set Radio Future may not be happening (at least, for the time being), at least we know that Sega is giving some thought into an actual future for Jet Set Radio.
Oh, and don’t forget. In the meantime, we do have Panzer Dragoon Orta coming our way Tuesday. If that’s not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.