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Game Profile
Game Boy
GENRE: Music
June 17, 2003
Space Channel 5: Special Edition

Space Channel 5

 Written by Jeff Milligan  on August 15, 2003

Review: Note to self: If I decide to have any kids, do not name any Ulala

If you take a look around most video game arcades these days, you may notice a number of rhythm/dancing machines. There's no denying that games such as Dance Dance Revolution are one of the biggest crazes in video games in present times, are there's good reason for it. Rhythm/Dance games are easily some of the most exciting and equally challenging games to be produced in quite some time. Although not an exact replica of DDR, Space Channel 5 is based on the same basis, rhythm. So then does Space Channel 5 rank in the same leagues as DDR? Not exactly.

Space Channel 5 puts players in control of Ulala, the galaxies grooviest reporter. While reporting, earth is suddenly under attack by aliens, and it's up to Ulala to stop them?by dancing. Yeah, that's right. Dancing. Maybe these aliens are friends with Toejam and Earl from Funkatron, but somehow they all know how to dance. By copying the moves of the aliens, Ulala can zap them into oblivion, or can save hostages taken by the aliens. Odd? Very.

The game basically functions like a cosmic Simon Says. Whatever the aliens do, Ulala has to copy. If the aliens dance to the right, then Ulala must dance to the right. Dance moves are controlled by the D-Pad; zapping aliens by the A button, and saving hostages by the B button. If Ulala misses a dance step, her ratings go down. Likewise, making numerous dance steps in a row makes her ratings rise. Defeating levels is primarily based on your ratings, so it's essential to dance as good as possible.

Usually graphics and sound don't make or break video games, but in rhythm games they do, especially sound. Space Channel 5 is a good concept at heart, but unfortunately due to the weak hardware capabilities of the GBA, it's hindered. Listening to what the aliens say is vital to Space Channel 5's gameplay, and with the scratchy sound the GBA puts out, it's difficult to understand the commands when they're given, especially on more difficult levels. However, players can also copy the alien's movements instead of listening to their commands. Once again this is spoiled by the inferior hardware of the GBA. Blocky characters make it difficult for players to see exactly which way the aliens are moving, again disrupting the flow of the game. Alien movements all look very similar, which makes it difficult to decipher whether you were supposed to move up, down, to the side, or shoot. Space Channel 5 would have benefited greatly to have been produced on one of the next-gen consoles instead of on the GBA. Maybe then we could have seen its full potential.

All in all, Space Channel 5 offers 4 levels, each consisting of numerous stages and bosses. The game can easily be beaten in one sitting, but it's better to spread it out over a few games. The game can be saved right on the GBA cart, so spreading out your gameplay time isn't a big deal. There's not much in lieu of extras, but you really don't expect there to be in a game such as this.

Bottom Line
In theory, Space Channel 5 is an excellent idea for a video game and with proper execution can be a very enjoyable one. However, with the shoddy hardware capabilities of the GBA, the basis behind the game is ruined. Players may want to check out the original Dreamcast version of the game, as the GBA version just isn't really worth it.

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