#423 Space Channel 5

Posted: 20th September 2012 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , , ,

180th played so far

Genre: Music
Platform: Dreamcast
Year of Release: 1999
Developer: United Game Artists
Publisher: Sega

Woo Dreamfest!!!

I got this Dreamcast as a present to myself for finishing a piece of coursework weeks in advance and I can not believe how happy it has made me. I actually had a Dreamcast way back when it was actually being made… then, like most of my other games (including Bully and Halo) I sold it on.

Nowadays it is so cheap to get one of these bundled with a bunch of high quality titles and I have been planning this ‘Dreamfest’ (my idea for the name) for the first weekend in my PGCE year when I was free from all other worries… it took a while.

Like most of the games for the Dreamcast we have to play for this blog Space Channel 5 is one of those that I always wanted to play but never had the money to buy… until now.

Our Thoughts

It is hard to start a piece on Space Channel 5 without giving at least a mention to the court case. Everyone my age and above will have heard of the action brought against the makers of this game by Lady Miss Kier of the band Deee-lite. I won’t go into the facts of the case since a simple Google Search will do better than I could. However, as a fan I would urge you to check out their amazing album World Clique… but I do have to say that I see a resemblance between the lead character and the singer in the music video for ‘Groove Is In The Heart’…. don’t sue me!

Anyway, legal arguments aside there is one thing that needs to be said about this game… man does this thing have a difficulty curve. On the simplest level Space Channel is a game of Simon where you are a reporter named Ulala saving people who have been hypnotised into dancing (presumably dancing until they die). In order to save people, kill aliens and brainwash increasingly strange-looking robots you need to match their dance moves. Sound easy? It ain’t.

For one thing unlike game like Rock Band you have no onscreen metronome to keep you in time which means everything has to be remembered. It is hard enough in some cases to remember 12 commands strung together but when you have to do to this with the perfect timings… we things get really hard really fast. That being said this game is extremely immersive and has a great sense of humour so when you fail you are more than willing to come back.

Whilst saving civilians and… well, the world is a priority the main crux of the game is to secure ratings for Space Channel 5. You have dance-offs with fellow newshounds (JAGUAAAAAR!) and instead of an accuracy rating you are measured in terms of percentage viewership. You also can measure how well you are doing by the increasing size of your dancing entourage (which reminded me of the petal trail in Flower for some reason God only knows) as well as the enthusiasm of your backing band. When you fail the music becomes comically out of tune and it almost had me in stitches. The music is mostly reminiscent of 90s groovy house dance pop, almost retro sixties back to the disco era. (I might have looked silly at times while Peter was playing… I just had to DANCE). It works in the setting, meaning it’s no surprise these men and women do what they’re doing.

The graphics feel like they fit this style too. Very colourful, psychodelic at times, and while they don’t completely clash, they can be quite tacky. While per character they might be good, the colourful mass of people following you fit less. Even so, this colourful band just looks funny – there’s nothing like camp sailors following you, dancing in tune with their more butch captain, a hip hop diva and a jazz saxophonist. Yeah, that happened, no, it didn’t seem like it’d fit together, but it is fun.

The entourage all dance in tune, following you, which means you get a dancing crowd as you walk down (which looks awesome) and because it’s all in sync, most of our dancers tend to walk and act a bit camp too – now, they are dancers, so that might not be too surprising, but it feels slightly out there at the start.

Final Thoughts

You have to experience this gae almost as much as you need to play – it’s an incredibly difficult and challenging rhythym game that I haven’t seen be this challenging anywhere else yet – but even without that element, the style is absolutely amazing and worth trying this game for. As tacky as it is, it is also engaging and makes you want to move, something you wouldn’t expect.

It’s tough, maybe, but that just makes it more worth it.

  1. […] the genres we’re regularly behind on now. If we’d done it, we’d currently be on Space Channel 5 – decent progress, but stuck in 1999 […]