Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #20: Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast)

Game: Space Channel 5
Genre: Rhythm
Developer: United Game Artists
Publisher: Sega
System: Dreamcast
Release date: 2000

There are, in my famously (or not) humble opinion, a few must-play games for the dead-before-its-time Dreamcast. Among them: ChuChu Rocket!, Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, Rez, Shenmue and Skies of Aracadia. Oh, and this Tetsuya Mizuguchi-designed title. Yes, naysayers, at its heart Space Channel 5 is the video game equivalent of Milton Bradley's "Simon" toy, but the body that surrounds that blood-pumping vessel is what elevates this game to "must own" (or at least "must try") status. For starters, there's the game's graphics, which have a groovy, Jetsons-esque vibe to them. Then there's the extremely hummable soundtrack--composed by Naofumi Hataya, Kenichi Tokoi and Ken Woodman--which has a similar throwback feel to it. Oh, and let's not forget the story that ties it all ogether. It's completely silly--an alien race invades the planet (Earth, I think) and forces people to dance; "funky space reporter" Ulala, a Lady Miss Kier look-alike, comes to their rescue by defeating said aliens (and a few rival journalists) through dance-offs--of course, but what else would you expect from a game with a cover like the one above? There are just two things that keep Space Channel 5 from achieving perfection: 1) a sense of rhythm is required if you hope to get anywhere in the game, and 2) even if you have a sense of rhythm, the game sometimes fails to recognize it. Even then, the game is easily one of the more enjoyable and unique examples of the genre.

See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts


Viewtiful_Justin said...

I've never owned a Dreamcast, but my friend Jeff and I played through all of Chu Chu Rocket one afternoon. This looks like a blast! Is this the one that was ported to PS2?

Bryan Ochalla said...

It *is* a blast, Justin! I think you'd really like it. The sequel, too. As for which one was ported to the PS2 -- both of them were! They're all bundled up in one package: Space Channel 5 Special Edition.

Here's a link to it on Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/Space-Channel-5-Special-playstation-2/dp/B00009ANK5/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1302666658&sr=8-2

Gaelach Rose said...

*nostalgia trip*

And this is why I love your blog. The games you review oft remind me of my childhood.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, I'm glad this one took you back, Gaelach Rose! It took me back when I played it (and wrote about it), too! I was sooooo in love with Sega and the Dreamcast back then :)

Also, thank you so much for the compliment :) Honestly, these 'Great Gaymathon' posts seem to be the least-read of all my posts these days, so it's nice to know a few people actually read them and enjoy them.

Don't worry, I wouldn't stop doing them even if everyone hated them, since I really enjoy writing them. Plus, they're forcing me to play every game I own, which is the whole point of the series :)

Gaelach Rose said...

I was more of a Saturn girl, myself, but the Dreamcast was really great.

If I played every game I own and wrote a review for it... well, it would be a lot of writing, let's just say that. It's an admirable thing, and I'm glad my comment made you happy!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, I loved the Saturn, too! Sadly, I no longer have one, but I'm going to rectify that sooner or later.

As for it taking a lot of writing and time to write a review of every game you own, I understand completely. I don't even know how many games I have at this point, but it's well over 100. So, the 'Great Gaymathon' will be going on for some time to come :)

Lewis said...

RIP Dreamcast, you were taken from us far too young. Shamefully, I never played Space Channel 5, although I did play the version included on Sega Superstars: http://101videogames.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/85-sega-superstars/. That one also had an annoying habit of not quite registering what you were doing, but it was fun nonetheless.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, RIP Dreamcast :( If you ever get the chance to play either Space Channel 5 or Space Channel 5 Part 2 (on the Dreamcast, PS2 or PSN/XBLA), take it, Lewis. I don't think you'll regret it!