Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast) review
"Ya know, despite its Simon Says-style gameplay, where you basically repeat what the enemies do on screen, Space Channel 5 can be quite tough at times. And you'll know this when you play the game for the first time. As the first report (stage) begins, you're at a retro-futuristic spaceport, where Morolians, aliens who look like Teletubbies with monitors as faces, are invading. Civilians scatter to safety in their hip, 60s-inspired clothing, but your character, Ulala, decked out in a skimpy..."
Ya know, despite its Simon Says-style gameplay, where you basically repeat what the enemies do on screen, Space Channel 5 can be quite tough at times. And you'll know this when you play the game for the first time. As the first report (stage) begins, you're at a retro-futuristic spaceport, where Morolians, aliens who look like Teletubbies with monitors as faces, are invading. Civilians scatter to safety in their hip, 60s-inspired clothing, but your character, Ulala, decked out in a skimpy outfit and thigh-high boots, walks into the line of danger. Why? Because she's a reporter, gosh darn it. A reporter that dances! So, as she grooves on over to her first encounter with the Morolians, you'll begin your first dance-off.
Watch the Morolians do their moves.
Right? Am I right? Well, it's really that simple, but due to certain aspects of the gameplay, performing the moves can be more difficult than they should be. As the little aliens finish up their epic performance of "Up! Up! Up!", you attempt to repeat these actions. You mess up. And you'll keep getting them wrong afterwards. You'll get some right, but the rest will be unsuccessful. After only a few minutes into the game, Ulala will be dancing horribly, the music plays sloppily, and the ratings are at its lowest. Then your show gets yanked off the air, and you're forced to replay the stage again. The first report is surprisingly tough for beginners, and will most likely force people to give up on the title after a few attempts.
If you're willing to stick with it, however, you'll grow accustomed to the feel of the gameplay. But you'll still deal with the problems that make it difficult to play sometimes. The main flaw is the timing of the actions. You have to be just right when you press a certain button, and even if you slip up only a few times during a performance, it could mean the end of the game for you. There's rarely any on-screen indicators to help you through the steps in the first report (ironically, there's plenty of them in the later stages), so you're forced to go with how fast the Morolians are moving when they do their steps.
It's tough, because you'll come to realize that you normally have to perform them at a slightly slower rate than them, which is absurd. And it doesn't help that when you perform your moves, Ulala's on-screen animations are a little behind at times. She doesn't react right away to your response, because she's still finishing up her animation from your previous response. It's only a millisecond or so off, but it makes a huge difference, and throws you off your own rhythm. Another unfortunate problem is that you can only use the d-pad for SC5. Anyone who has ever had to use the Dreamcast's controller d-pad knows how much of a bastard it is. It's sensitive, unresponsive at times, and probably the loosest d-pad you'll experience. Not the type of thing you want to deal with in a game like this. I configured the controller so that the movements were now on the buttons, but I still had to move the shoot actions to the d-pad, since the trigger buttons have a small delay time as well.
Now, if you take away these problems for a second, you'll notice that Space Channel 5 is quite a challenging, short title. The memorization that goes into some of the dance-offs will mess with your head at times. Add to the fact that you have to use different shoot buttons depending on whether you have to shoot a Morolian or a human, and it'll be taxing on your mind. Though, with the flaws this game has, you'll grow frustrated with these hard steps, which is sad. With its retro-futuristic designs, the groovy beats that'll engulf your ears, and silly moments (like the Japanese astronauts that take pictures of everything), this could have been a neat, rhythm title for the DC.
But the gameplay just messes it up.
Community review by pickhut (August 29, 2007)
Alternative tagline: Hit the Road, Jack.
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