reviews\ Dec 4, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Space Channel 5 Special Edition - PS2 - Review

One thing that I confess I’ve never been really big on is dancing games like DDR and whatnot. Not that they’re not innovative or neat in their own way, it’s just that I tend to lean more towards action and RPG titles myself. Still, one game that came out on Dreamcast that I was particularly fond of was Space Channel 5, and despite my hesitancy to play dancing games I found myself getting pretty addicted to it and even caught myself kinda dancing along to a few of the tunes while I played. Well, Sega and Agetec have revived the series by releasing the Space Channel 5 Special Addition, which not only includes the original and super fun Dreamcast hit but also the sequel previously unavailable here in the states.


If you haven’t played SC5 yet, it honestly had the most absurd and silly plot I have ever heard of. Ulala is a 19-year-old rhythmic reporter for Space Channel 5, sent to cover a story about a race of aliens known as the Morolians. The Morolians have come down and are forcing humans to dance uncontrollably, so Ulala has to beat them by, well … dancing, which saves the people they have caught who in return for being rescued, join in your entourage to  … well, dance with you as you go on. The SC5 sequel once again features Ulala and her pals (including the king of dancing and pop music himself Michael Jackson) as humanity is once again threatened with uncontrollable dancing by a mysterious group known as the Rhythm Rogues, so Ulala is once again the planet’s only hope to out dance the invaders.


All extremely goofy plots aside, the game is and was extremely entertaining, and the sequel is just that much better in my opinion. The basic concept to the game remains unchanged, as players will have to hit the four directional buttons to make Ulala move and the X and Circle buttons to shoot invaders or save hostages to the timing of the music and in the same pattern that the computer opponent is using (kind of like a melodic Simon Says game). In the original SC5, there wasn’t a ton of things to unlock or multiple reasons to go back and play again after the first few times through, but the sequel definitely has more to it and will have funky dancin’ gamers coming back a lot more this time around.


For starters, Ulala does a little more than just dance and shoot her gun when prompted. In the sequel, she will run up against an old rival (Pudding) who has learned to play a wicked guitar and a new character named Pine with the Sexy Space Police in a drumming contest just to name a couple of examples. These not only added a new angle to the game and made the music a lot more diverse, but it also added in a lot more challenge that made it a heck of a lot more enjoyable too. She will also have to contend with lyrics in parts of the game and also having to hold down the buttons for more than a spilt second (Chu, Chu, Chuuuuu, Chu … when you play it you’ll fully understand what I just wrote) which makes timing that much more crucial.


Another neat new feature to the SC5 sequel is a mode called Ulala’s Dance Off, which (like beating the story mode scenes with a certain rating) uses scores and performance to possibly unlock new costumes or character bios. The Dance Off is (no joke) a 100-stage dancing contest, which is not only amazingly fun and addictive just like the story mode, but gets really, really hard and will push your timing to it’s limit as you progress. Unfortunately one mistake means back to the first stage again, but there are also ways to unlock new items by doing things like playing the game for 10 hours or just beating a stage which will help people keep coming back even if they keep making mistakes in the dance off.


Graphically, SC5 was always really cool with not only it’s colorful presentation, but also some really nifty choreography. In the sequel, the developers have done it once again adding in some even better and more entertaining dance moves and some new battles (aside from the ones mentioned above), one of my personal favorites being a dance off to re-mixed waltz music against a giant flower thing and a guitar battle amidst fountains complete with some changing camera angles, water effects, and synchronized swimmers which made it seem more like you were playing a music video or a musical movie than a video game.


The sound tracks do contain some of the original music in a little more re-done fashion, but also a bunch of new stuff that kind of has a unique mix between techno, dance, and swing which works out really well. Some of the lyrics are a little silly … but they get the job done and the voiceovers throughout the game (including your producer who warns you of incoming baddies or your boss who likes to yell at Ulala if she messes up) were done well enough to be entertaining but not too overdone.


Overall, gamers who enjoyed the original SC5 should definitely pick this up, especially since you get the original and the sequel all in one complete package. For those of you who haven’t played the original, I would definitely check it out even if dancing games aren’t your thing. Trust me … if an action and RPG gamer like me can enjoy it, then you have a good chance of enjoying it too.


Gameplay: 8.9
The object remains simple … directional and button presses to the tune of music which have to be done in the same order that your opponent is doing them. The sequel adds in a lot of new unlockable content to help extend replay value, new face offs with vocals, longer button holds, and even instruments, and the overall controls and challenge seem a lot better in this version.


Graphics: 8.9
The graphics for the original looked good, and the sequel does them even better. It retains the colorful content found in SC5, but adds in some great new choreography and dance moves in between battles that made the overall game look like a fun music video. Ulala still looks sexy for a videogame character, and you can even unlock and outfit that is body paint … YOW!


Sound: 9.1
The voiceovers were done well and fall into an above average range, but what really does the sound good in this title is the music tracks themselves which are mixed better throughout the stages in my opinion, but still fit together flawlessly for an amazingly creative and cool sound experience.


Difficulty: Medium
The game controls are by far extremely simple to figure out and learn, and the game is pretty nice to you in the beginning with simple steps like “up, up, up” only. Wait until a little farther on though, and it definitely gets a lot more challenging when you have like 15 different directional and button presses or split second reaction pressing going on which will really test your grooving skills.


Concept: 9.0
As absurdly silly as the plot is, Sega managed to pull it off really well and offer up a fun and entertaining game the first time around. The sequel is not only more enjoyable in my personal opinion, but shows a definite improvement when put against it’s predecessor side by side.


Multiplayer: 9.0

Player one gets to do the directional presses while player two takes on the button pressing in either the story mode or the Dance Off. It is a blast to play alone or with someone else.


Overall: 8.9

There’s really not a whole lot else to say that I haven’t already said. It still won’t appeal to 100% of gamers out there, but I can say that if it made a fan out of me both times around it can possibly make one out of you too. If you liked the first one, buy it. If you didn’t play the first one na dlike games like DDR, buy it. If you’re not a huge fan of dancing games or haven’t played the first one, at least try it out … trust me.



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