Mike’s Video Game Retro Review: Space Channel 5: part 2

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Space Channel 5: Part 2 

-Developed by UGA
-Published by Sega

-Released on:
Dreamcast: JP-2002

PS2: JP-2002/ EU & NA-2003

PSN Steam, Xbox Live arcade: 2011

Greetings gamer geeks!  Starting today I will be posting a weekly retro review. I’ve thought long and hard about what my first game review should be, and in honor of this game getting an HD re-release for both the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade, I’ve settled on Space Chanel 5: Part 2. This game and it’s predecessor are two of my favorite music games of all time, and  they cheer me up while putting a smile on my face no matter how I feel.

 Space Channel 5 Part 2 was the sequel to the cult hit Space Channel 5, first released for the Sega Dreamcast in 1999 and 2000 in Japan and the US respectivley. The original game was the first title by Sega’s in-house development studio, UGA with Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Lumines, Rez) serving as the creative force behind it (and Part 2). Although the game had a great soundtrack and a stylish setting it contains some faults that held me back from giving it a full review.

First, the controls feel sluggish. There’s a slight delay from when you input the commands and when the action appears on the screen, a frustrating obstacle for a rhythm game. Secondly, the game is short. Really short. After you get a feel for the four levels, you can beat the game in less than an hour. Lastly, although the music is jazzy and fun, there really isn’t a lot of variety available in the soundtrack and this only becomes more noticeable as you replay the game. However, Space Channel 5: Part 2 fixes many of the problems of it’s predecessor, tweaking what was off and  what was broken by adding new game mechanics that make it even more fun.

 

STORY

Space Channel 5: Part 2 is a funky sci-fi adventure. The story goes like this: A space terrorist organization called the rhythm rouges are using hordes of dance robots to hypnotize people against their will, making them hostages. You play as Ulala, a reporter for the galactic TV channel Space Channel 5. It is your job to out-dance the baddies in dance battles to win back hostages and shoot to save more hostages and kill robots in action sequences. By doing this you try to get the big scoop on the story behind this evil organization and save the world.

Yep, Dance robots and rhythm terrorists. I’m not making this up. If you are reading this thinking, “this is so stupid,” You’re probably missing the point. Yes Space Channel 5: Part 2 is extremely silly and over the top, but the game is this way on purpose. The director and designers want you to play this and laugh at it. It’s supposed to be funny through its absurdity. Keep that in mind as you play and you’ll have a great time.

 

Gameplay

Gameplay in Space Channel 5 Part 2 is simple.  Basically, you just copy a command that your opponent lays out for you. In dance mode, you copy their dance moves to best them and win over hostages, and in shooting mode you copy the command your opponent gives to his robot henchmen and the hostages to either shoot robots with a ray-gun beam or rescue hostages with a rescue-gun beam.  The player has six buttons for executing commands: the four directional buttons, (up, right, left, and down,) and two face buttons to use for extra dance moves and shooting your ray-guns. The  X button for the CHU! Command, (dance move in dance mode/shoot robots  in shooting mode,) and the O button for the HEY! Command (dance in dance mode/ save hostages in shooting mode.)

Seems really simple? Well, it’s not that easy. Not only do you have to match the various command strings the bad guys give you, You have to match the timing as closely as possible. The enemies say the commands to the beats of the music and getting the rhythm isn’t always easy.

EXAMPLE (PS2 ver.) :

Outside the regular dancing and shooting segments, Part 2 adds some new rhythm elements like band/ instrument battles and Karaoke stand-offs. these additions to the original Space channel 5 mechanics keep things fresh and engaging as you play through the levels. Aside from the main game entirely are a few other play options. The first is a co-op mode for the main game and the second is Ulala’s Dance Mode. Here, you have to repeat 100 command chains without any errors. It is HARD!

 

 Graphics

While the game hasn’t aged masterfully, especially some of the character models, it doesn’t look bad at all. The points this game loses for lack of detail and a less-than-stellar polygon count are more than made up for with it’s style. A lot of love went into the visual design of this game. The characters may look a tiny bit blocky but their designs are so cool and stylish it’s not a problem. The game features six different outfits for Ulala as well as a bunch of unlockable ones (most of them earned through Ulala’s Dance Mode,) to choose from. Each one is dripping with style.

The environments are inventive and clever. They work well with the gameplay going on without  taking focus from what you are supposed to be doing. It never feels bland or repetitive. Many stages give off a distinct retro-futuristic feel, like a 1960’s stylized view of the future. The combination of funky characters and stylin’ environment make for a fun time.

 

[cincopa A4CAkt65ADCI]

 

Sound

Every rhythm game needs decent music to work well and space Channel 5: Part 2 goes above and beyond in this category. Each song has a great beat to it and they all fit the areas they appear  seamlessly. Whether it is techno in the robot hide-out, Jazzy big-band music on the cruise ship, and a waltz song to go with the flower-robot boss, nothing is out of place no matter how weird the game gets. One of my bigger complaints with the first Space Channel 5 is that although it was good, it seemed like most of the music was based around one theme and after  a few play-throughs it loses it’s magic. I first bought Part 2 four years ago and the music throughout the game sounds as vibrant as ever.

 

Replay/difficulty/how it’s aged

Compared to the first game, Part 2 is a much more complete title and has aged much, much, better. The difficulty is much more manageable due to tighter and more responsive controls, and with better graphics and motion-captured dance moves, Part 2 is more fun to watch.  Although it is longer then it’s predecessor, Space Channel 5: Part 2 is still pretty short. It tries to make up for this flaw through it’s replay value. It manages to bump up it’s replay value through two ways; the secret moves and the rescued hostages. Even if you play perfectly, you can’t get a perfect score unless you find all of the secret moves for the level. These moves are spots in the game where the music has a strong beat outside of gameplay. Tap the button to the right beat and you can find these moves. Another cool thing is that there are character bios for almost every person you rescue and a lot of their descriptions are witty and fun.

 

Overall,  I still think this is a great game that deserves a fair shot. No matter where you get it, it’s fairly cheap. If you are a fan of games like Parappa the Rapper, DDR,  or Guitaroo Man, you should pick this one up. It shouldn’t be more that $10-15.00 at stores like gamestop, and if you have a PS3 or an Xbox 360 you can now download the Dreamcast version remastered in HD for $9.99

 

MY SCORE: 8.5/10

 

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