Bomb Rush Cyberfunk review: Better Red than dead

Team Reptile aims to fill a void Sega left in Jet Set Radio fans' hearts.

Team Reptile

Of all the niche, beloved Dreamcast era Sega joints, we’ve seen the least of Jet Set Radio. We got a new Shenmue before a new Jet Set, for crying out loud. Luckily for the folks out there still distraught over Microsoft’s failure to get Jet Set Radio Future on the Backwards Compatibility list, there’s a new option. We live in the era of spiritual successors, combining fans of a classic game with creative input from one or more creative OGs. In this case, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is so clearly an homage to Jet Set Radio, Hideki Naganuma showed up from the darkness of Twitter to compose some new music.

These funky streets

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk cutscene screenshot
Source: Team Reptile

Set in a funky, futuristic New Amsterdam, the world of Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is ruled by crews of graffiti artists-slash-DJs-slash-superheroes(?). The constant power struggle is a bid to become “All City,” the top of the top. You start as Faux, someone seemingly crucial to the current rankings. But before you can escape a mysterious holding cell and figure out what’s up, another crew leader lops your head off with weaponized vinyl. You wake up with a new (robot) head, a new name (Red) and a new crew, and set off to get your head back and become All City on the way.

Even if you’re an oldhead Jet Set Radio sicko, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk takes a little while to get used to. While you’re scooting around on your skates (or BMX bike or skateboard), the influence is clear as day. In this game, there’s a massive focus on trick combos and lines, which feels more like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. To win challenges you’ll often have to build up strings of tricks, while covering distance to earn multipliers. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk cleverly ties multipliers to sliding on billboards or hitting specific cues while grinding, meaning you can’t just sit in a manual and mash buttons.

Lords of New Amsterdam

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk gameplay, hero grinding
Source: Team Reptile

The best parts of Bomb Rush Cyberfunk are all the little things. You can swap between your wheels and your feet mid combo, which functionally is more complicated than necessary but feels great to perform. You can grind up vertical rails and even upside down! When you pull your phone out to check the map you can still play, and Red keeps his phone out, which is a fun detail. You can also swap to the phone’s camera, and basically take selfie skating footage. Your combo timer pauses if you’re manualing down a set of stairs. All that stuff together just makes cruising around and doing tricks tons of fun, with so many options despite the simple controls.

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk hero skating in camera mode, with selfie camera feed
Source: Team Reptile

On the other hand, there are little things that don’t feel as great too. You can’t really modify tricks, and it often feels like which ones you do don’t matter as long as you’re mashing ‘em out and multiplying. The game tries to do combat at certain points, and it’s as awkward as it sounds, if not more so. Using ramps/half-pipes doesn’t feel natural at all, making them annoying to use. There’s some general “jank,” with the camera and other little things, but that stuff feels more like seasoning than salt.

Cyberhead and existential dread

Storytelling example in Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
Source: Team Reptile

One thing Bomb Rush Cyberfunk really has going for it is how weird it’s willing to get. This could have just as easily been a simple Jet Set Radio homage, with similar vibes, mechanics, goals and storytelling. Instead, this game goes to some strange places, and it’s a hoot to see things like internal conflict and ponderings about identity, machines and dreams take place in a setting like this. And then you get into ethical conflicts and codes of honor among gang society and man, that’s a big leap from the source of inspiration.

If you’re an old school Segahead, there are definitely a few holes in your heart in need of filling. Jet Set Radio, which hasn’t seen a new game since the Xbox, is one of the biggest. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk has appeared like a beacon of hope to fill that void, and it does so while bringing new stuff to the table. This game is like a long-lost Dreamcast game in so many different ways, and most of them are good. Clearly, the developers at Team Reptile understand the concept of love.

This review is based on a PC code for Steam, provided by the publisher. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is now available for the PC and Nintendo Switch and is releasing on September 1 for  PlayStation and Xbox.

Contributing Editor

Lucas plays a lot of videogames. Sometimes he enjoys one. His favorites include Dragon Quest, SaGa, and Mystery Dungeon. He's far too rattled with ADHD to care about world-building lore but will get lost for days in essays about themes and characters. Holds a journalism degree, which makes conversations about Oxford Commas awkward to say the least. Not a trophy hunter but platinumed Sifu out of sheer spite and got 100 percent in Rondo of Blood because it rules. You can find him on Twitter @HokutoNoLucas being curmudgeonly about Square Enix discourse and occasionally saying positive things about Konami.

Review for
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
  • Funky music (including Naganuma!)
  • Colorful visuals evoking the Dreamcast style
  • Lots of freedom for tricks and combos
  • Story that gets weirder and weirder
  • Combat doesn't happen often but it's lame
  • Trick depth in terms of function feels shallow
  • Weird physics sometimes, especially with things like half-pipes
From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola