828th played so far

Genre: Action/Platform
Platform: Nintendo 64/Playstation 1
Year of Release: 1998
Developer: DMA Design
Publisher: Take Two Interactive

It feels like the Nintendo 64 era was the high point of the 3D action platformers – your Super Mario 64s and Banjo Kazooies. Sure, later platforms had them too, but they were so much more popular at this point and it feels like I’ve sen more of them. Smaller areas with some tricky jumps, usually a fair amount of collectibles and cartoony physics.

While offering its own thing in controlling enemies, Space Station Silicon Valley feels like it fits in in this mold – you move from level to level, with some challenges in each level and moves that unlock until you can face the final boss. I’ve enjoyed the genre enough so far that I’ve been enthusiastic about this one – I hope it pays off.

Our Thoughts

I’m not sure the title of Space Station Silicon Valley really explains a lot of what’s going on. The main gameplay loop is that you’re this tiny bug that moves between mechanical animals. You start off going into this mechanical dog, but to finish your missions you need to switched between them – either because you’re meant to do that or, more often, because you need the different abilities. Sheep, for example, can float and since they run on bio energy rather than electricity, they can go into the water as well. They’re weak in battle though and incredibly slow. It’s a pretty neat mechanic where you even need to keep your food chain in mind, as (for example) other dogs will try to attack sheep.

The levels are fairly short, with two or three tasks each. There are no checkpoints during the levels: If you fail, you start from scratch. That’s actually what’s quite frustrating: a small mistake can kill you and while the levels aren’t that big, they do invite exploration enough that you want to try things. However, if you accomplish anything, a mistimed jump could lose you all of it. Add to that that the levels don’t always make sense at first glance, and it becomes quite a frustrating experience.

There are some collectibles in the game – a trophy per level as well as a bunch of power cells and they were the more interesting thing to try and get in the level. It also, however, seems to be completely pointless and not something the game tracks too in depth, and it feels like a bit of effort to reward you for them, even if more cosmetically than what you get by getting them all at the end, would have made for a nice extra goal. I’m still not sure if the save system would have helped here, though, or just made that a lot worse.

Final Thoughts

Space Station Silicon Valley has two sides to it. The animal swapping mechanic is a really nice idea, even if it feels like the animals could be tweaked. The missions are a mixed bag and don’t feel like anything to write home about. The other systems, though, are pretty frustrating and work against you far more than is justified. It’s easy to imagine a new version of this fixing these issues and really making use of these mechanics, but as it stands the game’s age is probably responsible for pushing it all down.