Bomb Rush Cyberfunk Review

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk Review Image

We live in a world of spiritual successors. So many renowned developers of the early ages of gaming, picking up their own torch just to keep their ideas going for other generations to carry forward. If a company that owns the rights to a game with a passionate audience won’t do anything with it, the creatives will do whatever they can to keep those audiences happy. With the indie scene being born from people with “I’ll do it myself” attitudes, there’s become a new trend of fans making legally distinct callbacks to games or genres they fell in love with during their youth. In my experience, these projects rarely end up as good as they might seem.

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is not one of those games. A group of developers looked at Jet Set Radio Future (JSRF) and decided to make another one, and by God did they do it.

In the city of New Amsterdam, you play as a guy who has lost his head (literally). With no memories and a cyber head on your shoulders, you meet up with a group of street artists who plan to go “All City” by painting every district with their own art. From there you’re just let loose to bike, skate, or board and make your mark, avoiding the cops along the way.

The story, as charming as I found it to be, is not the draw with this game. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk had one assignment, and they understood it completely. I’ve struggled to articulate my thoughts on this game in written form because, to be honest, thinking wasn’t something I did while playing. This is something you feel. The absolute labor of love put into recapturing a feeling and conveying that to players. Calling it Jet Set Radio 3 almost feels wrong, even if they were obviously trying to use JSRF as a base and build off it. They met JSRF where it left off and then kept going. Maybe not too far, but I think for the first game in a possible new IP they did exactly what they needed to do.

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The gameplay loop is pretty simple, but that simplicity is a feature. You enter a new part of the city, of which there are several different kinds of locales, and are given free rein to explore it. The actual goal here is to tag certain walls with graffiti, increasing your rep in this part of town until the Crew who “owns” it notices you. Typically you’ll even find these maps expand and reveal brand new areas to show off your tricks and tag more, or even unlock new gear or outfits. The mall was a stand-out to me, starting out as an already meaty location that by the end felt truly massive. Once it’s time to face off, you’ll need to use your mastery of these locations to get a higher score than the other team. 

Typically this involves keeping chains going and doing tricks, which are mapped to three of the face buttons. Leaning into sharp grind rail turns or riding off the side of certain billboards will apply multipliers to your current combo, and holding the right trigger on the ground will allow you to do a Manual to move to another grind rail without dropping it. You can abuse this pretty easily when it comes to these point challenges, but getting good enough to break the system just feels rewarding in its own way.

It takes a while to unlock, but any of your playable characters can pick between a bike, skateboard, or skates. They all play similarly enough to allow players to easily switch between them but have their own quirks. I didn’t test exactly what these were, but skateboarding seems the fastest, skates have the best control, and bikes get you the best air time. There are small benefits in exploring the world that you’ll notice depending on what you choose as well, like bikes being able to unlock garages around the world by waiting in front of them. I preferred skates, but was also partial to skateboarding. Regardless of what you pick, the controls are so smooth that you will likely have a great time.

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There are two key differences to the formula that completely change how the game plays out, and thankfully for the better: You can run around and now paint cans are infinite. Two things I never knew I needed, but absolutely felt the annoyance of while playing those games. Nothing was worse than precision jumping on a building in JSRF, only to have your skates not stay still and then have you fall off. With a press of a button, you can just stop your momentum. It’s great. It’s also great because it allows you to take things as slowly as you want, and compliments the photo mode. Taking time to hunt down more cans disrupted your flow, so they took that out. The flow was such an important element of enjoying these kinds of sports games, and anything that could have gotten in the way just would have hurt the vibe.

One thing I think it didn’t improve on too much was the combat, which is probably the weakest aspect of the game. It is not made clear how much damage you’re doing to enemies (cops) when they show up, and hitting them feels awkward. It is nice to be able to quickly do some graffiti art on them if you time your button press the second they get knocked away, but it doesn’t do much but look cool. The bosses are slightly more thought out, but also a bit awkward. I found the combat to be overall inoffensive, but it could have been a bit more fine-tuned.

What I value the most with this game though is the world, and exploring it is quite rewarding. There’s so much variety in how each map is designed, with it being so fun to explore every nook and cranny to find their secrets. This is a game made for people who want to truly get lost in a world, and if you surrender yourself to Bomb Rush Cyberfunk you will be rewarded happily.

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I’m also happy to report that it runs very well on Nintendo Switch. With all default settings, it runs at a crisp resolution and a locked 30 frames per second. What players might not be aware of is that there’s an option to unlock a framerate called “Unleash the Beast”, but I felt this was too inconsistent to play much of. The hitching is apparent, and I’d rather play it at a locked 30, but this is a great way for Team Reptile to future-proof the game for when we get a hardware revision or the mythical Super Nintendo Switch 2.

Finally, no review of this game would be doing it justice without mentioning the soundtrack. While some tracks were made exclusively for the game, most of the music was gotten by underground and indie artists who just fit the mood of Jet Set without pulling from it directly. It has a vibe entirely unique to itself, and thanks to the introduction of the phone mechanic you can cycle through any collected music or listen to playlists compiled for that specific level.

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is the kind of game I’ve been waiting to play for two decades. Jet Set Radio Future was a truly formative game for me, and I’ve been waiting for years to play something that truly gets what made it work. While I typically find an attachment to nostalgia to be damaging to any work of art, Team Reptile has not let it bog them down. This is one of the freshest games you’ll play all year, and with its quality of life improvements and new modern flair, I think it has surpassed the games it was inspired by.

Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Team Reptile

Total Score
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