Game: “Space Channel 5 Part 2”
Dance troupes are very much en vougé, with different styles of dance appearing across the country and in all of the talent shows. However, none of these so-called dance troupes are powerful, talented or intelligent enough as to take control of the International Space Station. Let alone do battle with a tall, slender, pink-haired news reporter and have it broadcast to the universe.
Ulala, the 22 year old news reporter for Space Channel 5 does this though, so that automatically makes her far more interesting than Diversity. The plot of Space Channel 5 Part 2 is very simple, dance and battle your way through a variety of different space stations dotted around the universe and battle against the evil Rhythm Rogues who are attempting to take over the universe. The Rhythm Rogues are a dance troupe of evil space aliens who are capturing innocent people in various locations and forcing them to dance badly!
Of course, this is top, universal wide news and it’s the various news stations responsibility to report on this for its huge audience. This is where Ulala comes into play, she has to do battle and the better she is, the more audience she’s got. This in turn, converts to both points and stars, which allows her to make mistakes in her dance routine.
The dance routines are somewhat complicated; it’s a mix between personal dexterity and short term memory. For those who every played the mini-game Clefairy Says in Pokémon Stadium of the Nintendo 64 will understand the frustration of being made to remember a series of movements.
When in battle, the opposing troupe will perform a number of moves, which are all controlled by the directional buttons and then on occasion either Chu (A Button) or Hey (B Button) and it’s Ulala’s responsibility to mirror these moves, in perfect timing and sequence or suffer the consequences.
To further increase the difficulty, the moves aren’t always that clear to follow, with random spacing and with increasing speed it becomes very easy to get confused and forget what moves you’re meant to be doing. After all, the human brain can only remember up to 7 +/- 2 things for a very short period of time, at least according to George A. Miller. There are no directional arrows on screen and it’s all down to listening to the beat of the music and what the dub is saying. Sometimes the dub isn’t that clear which creates unavoidable mistakes and that starts to show from the very first level.
There are two modes of play, Story and Ulala’s Dance Challenge. The Story mode follows our heroine, as she tries to free the world of the evil Rhythm Rogues. There’s a fairly wide number of characters, from Michael Jackson to a police woman called Pine. Whilst Ulala’s Dance Challenge is where you dance for your life as you have no life left and the further along the game you get, the more points you get.
Throughout both modes of play, the option of a second player is available, which only adds to the enjoyment of the game, as the online functionality is limited. There are basic things like Leaderboards and that’s about it; however, considering that this was originally a Dreamcast game, that’s still somewhat impressive. There’s also a number of Achievements to get, which vary from just completing one dance battle to getting a 200% audience.
SEGA have also done a little housekeeping on the game as well, the main game is in HD and looks not only very crisp, but also modern. Unfortunately, this care and attention has not been extended to the cut-scenes, which look horribly dated next to the fluid nature of the main game. The soundtrack is somewhat impressive; with a classic j-Pop inspired soundtrack with hints of 60 music, it’s an odd juxtaposition between old and older and lends itself well to the entire theme of the game.
Space Channel 5 Part 2, as with any dance style game can become very repetitive very quickly, and with the increasingly quick movements to remember and repeat the game is also a challenge for those who are used to more hand holding of modern games. Yet, this aside, the lack of directional arrows or a clear dub is a huge obstacle for a game that requires such precision and one that ultimately detracts enjoyment from the game.