Bomb Rush Cyberfunk: Indie Revival of an Iconic Series
Updated: Oct 3
Edited by Marian Mohamed
Bomb Rush Crew’s Tryce admiring his artwork, spray can in hand. (Courtesy Image/Team Reptile)
"Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" is an indie developer's dream come true. It’s a feat to create a game so attuned to its source material, let alone achieve mainstream success and praise while creating its own massive wake in an over-saturated pond.
Created by Team Reptile, "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" is a spiritual successor to Sega’s cult classic series "Jet Set Radio". From its cel-shaded graphics to its vibrant graffiti-filled open-world metropolis, this game feeds off the nostalgia of the late 90s and early 2000s. The gameplay featured in "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" hardly changes the formula used in "Jet Set Radio". You follow a gang of graffiti artists who traverse their city using inline skates as they fight against a sinister corporation. But in "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk’s" case, fighting against other graffiti crew to go 'All City’. An elusive title only given to the top crew who holds all of the turf in New Amsterdam, the game's sprawling backdrop and main location. You step into the metallic shoes of ‘Red’, an android composed of a robot head and the decapitated form of Faux, a graffiti artist, and All City legend.
As you skate, dance, and tag your way through 5 distinct burrows of New Amsterdam as well as growing your crew and street rep. Red slowly begins to learn more about his identity and his relationship to Faux. By all means, the storyline is not the main draw here; gameplay reigns supreme. Though very true to "Jet Set Radio", the gameplay could easily be compared to other extreme sports games of the early 2000s, such as the Tony Hawk: Pro Skater series, and the SSX series. The snappy controls feel great, and the feedback from every jump, flip, and twirl feels like they all have weight and are sometimes hard to pull off.
Combining tricks and creating combos is always amusing, and though tricks are limited, they always feel refreshing and satisfying to chain together. Getting to that gameplay is simple. Story missions sometimes feel optional in the grand scheme of things. I spent the majority of my time continuously skating, exploring New Amsterdam, completing additional quests, uncovering secrets, and bolstering my crews' numbers. The freedom and customization "Bomb Rush Cyperfunk" gives you are a little underwhelming. Only being able to switch from rollerblades to skateboards and BMX bikes.
Bomb Rush Crew member Shine getting ready to tag a rival crew’s mural. (Courtesy Image/Team Reptile)
There really isn't that much to set your characters apart from others and make them your own besides some color variations for their already set clothes that can be found worldwide. One surprisingly pleasant feature included in "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" was the combat and police system. It's pretty simple: you tag someplace on the map and you gain a star. The more tags you tag, the more stars you get, and subsequently the more dramatic the response from the police is. It can be annoying at times, especially when you're just trying to explore or test out a new tag you found, but thankfully Team Reptile added the option to fight back.
Combat is not deep, but for me, that's completely okay. First and foremost, this is an action sports game. Expecting anything technical is out of the picture. It's nothing more than 2 buttons with a few animation variants. But it's pretty solid for that and nothing beats backflipping out of a grind to send one of these pesky enemies flying. Another highlight of the game is its level design. Each burrow of New Amsterdam is crafted into a Y2K-wrapped sandbox of pure fun.
Burrows are extensive and, for the most part, have various levels and complexity to them. No other feels like the next, and some even have secret areas. It's seriously refreshing to see such effort put into making a worthy successor and the intricate details. But one detail you cannot forget when it comes to "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" or really any other "Jet Set Radio" inspired game is the soundtrack, and "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" is not lacking in that department.
The Bomb Rush crew ‘Cypher’. (Courtesy Image/Team Reptile)
Blending various genres such as Hip-hop (both voiced and instrumental), RnB, Jpop, Electronica, Jungle, and Funk. The soundtrack oozes individuality and works perfectly. Flying down city streets, wall riding massive billboards just to pause mid-combo to lay down a mural in seconds, all while this curated mix plays in the background, adds so much personality to this game. They even got Hideki Naganuma, "Jet Set Radios" composer, to contribute to the soundtrack. Truly one of the best soundtracks I've heard in recent years attached to any piece of media.
Street view of Millennium Square, one of the many boroughs in Bomb Rush Cyberfunk. (Courtesy Image/Team Reptile)
Overall, "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" is by no means a perfect game, with a more loosely enforced story that frequently takes a backseat. It’s a semi-fleshed-out combat system with very few options to customize characters. The soundtrack, backdrop, and gameplay loop truly carry this game, at least for me, to a solid, replayable, and enjoyable experience.
Few indie games make Steam’s and Nintendo's e-shop global top sellers list. And Team Reptile usually does a great job at post-launch content and support. I'm excited about the future of this game and thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. "Bomb Rush Cyberfunk" is available for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, as well as Xbox One and the Series X/S. Don't forget to support the developers who worked on this game for years. Indie studios like them deserve so much more respect. You can check them out as well as their other games by going to their website