Saturday, July 12, 2008

Space Channel 5 Special Edition Review

From Sega's UGA team (the masterminds behind Rez) also comes Space Channel 5. For me, SC5 is most memorable for the huge marketing push that it was given, followed by its ubiquity in the dollar bin at just about everywhere games are sold. The game didn't really look that interesting to me, despite all of the Sega fans saying how it was a really good, unique game.

Now, years later, for three dollars, I bit the bullet and picked up the Space Channel 5 Special Edition which includes not only the original SC5, but part two of the series as well.

Ever play Simon, that electronic take on "Simon Says" where players match oversize, color-coded buttons to the order that they would light up? SC5 is just a glorified version of that. Some crazy aliens have decided that best way to enslave the human race is by forcing them to dance, and the only way to kick their ass is for Ulala, reporter for Space Channel 5, to match their dance moves.

This boils down to you mimicking the aliens on the screen as they shout out what buttons to push. They yell the commands and do their dance. Then, it's your turn. Spit those crazy moves back at them in the right rhythm, and you'll be good to go.

Keep it up and that's the two games in a nutshell. The most baffling part, in my eyes, is why Sega would come to the conclusion that this would be the game to save the Dreamcast. It's quirky and unique, yes, but ultimately, it just doesn't seem to do much. DDR has the novelty of the having to use your feet. Guitar Hero's hook is its controller. SC5's catch: a crazy story and a guest appearance by Michael Jackson. That’s about it. Maybe having Ulala make an appearance at the MTV VMAs wasn't the greatest idea.

In order for a game like this to be successful, it has to have catchy tunes. The music fits the part, but ultimately, it comes across like the tunes in Sonic Adventure - they serve their purpose, but they're not specifically memorable. Graphically, not a whole lot happens on the screen. Some ultra-soft-looking, marshmallow aliens are blasted while the rescuees dance along with Ulala. If it weren't for saving hostages, you could close your eyes and play the game with your head underneath the couch.Somewhere out on the web, another person commented that this game is like a spiritual brother to Jet Grind Radio. I agree, in that they both had unique premises and music was a big part of the games' personalities. While the two were developed by different teams, their integration of music and its application to the game have a shared ambition.

Unfortunately, Jet Grind is fun to play, while this Space Channel 5 is just a glorified "Simon Says."

[On a side note, I've sat on this review for quite a while, hoping the game would grow on me, but it just hasn't.]


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