Dancin’…Dancin’…DANCIN’…She’s a dancin’ machine!
Groove evening viewers! Tonight we’ve got a special show planned for you, starring
Sega’s latest dance creation, Space Channel 5. Many of you have already
heard the buzz. Some think that it’s going to be the next “must have” for the
Dreamcast; others believe that it’s just another cockamamie dance game. Well tonight,
the rumors go down and the truth goes up. Just how good is Space Channel 5?
If you’re looking for a game with attitude, you’ll definitely find it here,
as Space Channel 5 has more attitude than a pretentious, ego-trippin’
Broadway thespian. The main character, Ulala, is a pinnacle of style. With a
faboo pink do and a plastic orange skirt, she fights the evil Morolians with
dual “lasers” and dances to save the humans who have fallen under their control.
The basic gameplay is really simple and unlike dance games that have come
before it. The Morolians do a little dance consisting of D-pad and button pushes
and Ulala must mimic them. That’s it. It won’t take a degree from U.C. Berkeley
to figure out how to play, but a sense of rhythm is more important than taking
your daily vitamins.
The only problem with Space Channel 5‘s control is a small lag when
pressing “shoot” (the A or B buttons). It is unfortunate that this type of control
problem would occur in a game where timing is crucial. The lag problem will
frustrate many gamers during their first few times playing, but a little bit
of practice will solve it.
Graphically, Space Channel 5 is amazing. Backgrounds are actually MPEG
videos that clearly make the sparse, retro-futuristic furnishings in the game
stand out. The costumed characters are all well designed, punctuating the stylish
theme. Just think of Austin Powers meets the Jetsons. Yeah, baby. Do I make
The motion capture in Space Channel 5 is top notch. All of the dancers
move with stunningly life-like grace and fluidity. The choreography of the dancers
is great, making Space Channel 5 really amusing to watch.
The game also has multiple paths based on how well you can make Ulala dance.
These paths will lead to different characters that just might join your dancing
troupe. Profiles of these characters can also be unlocked as the game progresses.
This feature allows you to get an in-depth look at the game’s characters and
even watch them groove solo.
with any dancing game, good music is vital to your enjoyment. Bad music can
easily turn a good game into a coaster for your favorite coffee mug. Luckily,
Space Channel 5 is all about good, clean, funky tunes that will get your
feet moving and your head bobbing. It’s also the kind of music that will implant
itself in your brain for a few days, refusing to leave until you’ve woken several
times at four in the morning humming the main theme.
As a bonus, Space Channel 5 players have a shot at saving a special
guest celebrity from the clutches of the Morolians. The infamous Michael Jackson
has joined up with Sega once again (anyone remember Moonwalker?) and lent his
dancing skills and trademark “Whoo!” to the game. Save the “King of Pop” and
Ulala’s dance troupe begins to resemble a gang from “Beat It.”
But alas, even Space Channel 5‘s slick style can’t hide its shortcomings.
One of the large, gaping holes left by Space Channel 5 is the lack of
any type of multi-player game. For example, a HORSE approach could have been
taken, with players freestyle dancing to the beat. Opponents would have to replicate
their moves or gain a penalty. This seems so basic, yet it hasn’t been done.
Another annoyance is the relatively small amount of play time. Even with the
multiple paths, you probably will not be playing Space Channel 5 for
days on end. In fact, a gamer with decent rhythm skills should beat the game
in about an hour.
This lack of depth can also be seen in the gameplay, which is essentially just
a game of Simon. You never get to improvise your dancing, and just following
the computer’s directions becomes, well, a bit boring. Even the original Parappa
the Rapper allowed you to freestyle.
Space Channel 5 is a total mixed bag. On one hand you’ve got great
visuals, fantastic music, and a disco ball full of positive energy. But the
short amount of play time, slight control problems and zero multi-player really
take away from the experience. A rental, for sure, but not necessarily one to