Space Channel 5 Review

For Dreamcast

Rating: Good
   Space Channel 5 represents all that is good and pure about the video 
game industry.  It reminds us that no matter how many first-person shooter 
clones, generic racing games, and Titus products are released, the video 
game industry is still a place where unique ideas and creative flair are 
rewarded with industry-wide recognition and strong sales.  
   In the months leading up to Space Channel 5's US release, many people 
said that it's more of a collection of music and dancing than an actual 
video game.  After experiencing it for myself, I believe that Space Channel 
5 is indeed a video game.  It's just a really, really weird one.  Any game 
that forces you to save the world from aliens by dancing like crazy is 
bound to labeled as "weird," and rightfully so.  Showing Space Channel 5 to 
your friends will probably do one of two things: Make them think it's one 
of the coolest things they've ever seen, or make them think you're weird 
for playing such a game and file a restraining order against you.
   Space Channel 5 takes the "copy the commands" concept that debuted in 
PaRappa the Rapper and expands on it with insanely catchy music, addictive 
gameplay, and surprisingly good voice acting.  The game focuses on dance 
music rather than PaRappa's rap music.  You not only have to successfully 
enter each of the commands (up, down, left, right, and two shoot buttons), 
but you also have to do so with a particular rhythm.  Also, while PaRappa 
had paper-thin graphics, Space Channel 5's graphics are actually quite 
impressive.  The game's dancing is amazingly well animated from the 
beginning of the game to the end.
   Even if this doesn't sound like fun to you (it didn't to me at first), 
believe me, it is.  The judging of your performance is much less abstract 
than it was in PaRappa; you either mess up or you don't.  Occasionally, 
there are still times where you could have sworn you entered the command 
correctly and with the right rhythm, but the game says you got it wrong.  
These frustrating occasions take place less and less as you play the game 
more, and they're never really that bad even at their most frustrating.  
Space Channel 5 is such a charming and endearing game in every possible way 
that I can't possibly stay mad at it for long.
   Space Channel 5 is far from a luck-based button-masher; you really do 
get better at it as you play it more.  The game is a great test of not only 
your hand-eye coordination, but also your sense of rhythm and other 
funkadelic tendencies.  Maybe I'm just a little bit slow mentally, but I 
found the game to require a very intense level of concentration in the 
later levels.  As a matter of fact, I actually find that it helps my 
concentration if I look away from the screen for a few seconds when it's 
time to listen to commands and then enter them yourself.
   Space Channel 5 is addictive in more ways than one.  Of course, there's 
the way the game pulls you in while you're playing and discourages you from 
turning it off.  But Space Channel 5 also has a way of getting into your 
head when you're not playing it.  You'll be thinking about playing it, or 
remembering your last gameplay session with it, or getting ready to play it 
soon.  Any game that can take me away from Perfect Dark for more than a few 
minutes should be regulated by the government for its addictiveness.
   The only thing that limits Space Channel 5 to being a must-play game 
rather than a must-buy game is its ridiculous shortness.  Once you polish 
your skills, it's possible to play the game from start to finish in just 
one hour.  My recommendation is that you rent Space Channel 5, finish it, 
show it to everyone you know, and then return it.

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