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Space Channel 5


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Way back in 1998 I was the proud owner of a Japanese Dreamcast but I think at the time, I was just 14, I think I bit off more than I could chew with the limited launch line up meaning my first days of Dreamcast ownership were limited to Virtua Fighter 3tb and Godzilla sessions. Later on I purchased Sega Rally 2 and Sonic Adventure and while excellent games in their own right they didn't manage to keep me engaged enough to overcome the language barrier that I expected to come up against thru owing a Japanese DC.

So at the tender age of 15 I sold up and took my dirty money and waited for the PlayStation 2 to come along. But in the Autumn of 2003 I rectified the error of my ways and spent at tiny £21.99 on a Dreamcast, and I stocked up on some classics.

One of which was Space Channel 5, and to this day it still captivates me.

Initial impressions:

Upon turing on the DC you are greeted with a grainy FMV sequence, it seems that sometimes some developers have trouble with FMV on DC but Sonic Team and Capcom show it can be done and look perfect but hay-hoe.

But once that has past you are greeted with the funk-a-dellic music that will become the hallmark of this title.


The actual gameplay is relitively simple, copy the aliens movements in time with the beat. But here is where the fun begins. It starts off pretty simple. The first set of aliens you meet go thru the motions of simply making up go UP UP DOWN DOWN LEFT etc. Then the face buttons come into play. At certain points the aliens will say "CHOO" this is your que to press the A button. The B button comes into play as the trigger that controls a gun which can save hypnotised Humans. Further into the game you will be required to undertake complex button presses using all 4 directions on the Dpad and the A & B buttons, at the same time remembering which beat you came in at. Sometimes the bright visuals can distract you from the sound.

Overall something so simple can become so addictive, and you can see how this paved the way for Rez (masterminded by the same top bloke)


The NPC models are showing their age (they share simularities with the NPC from Crazy Taxi, another look Sega used but have moved on from much like AM2's 90s games which employed chessy announcers and big silver lettering) but Ulala still looks very nice, her clothes especially looking shiny and 'nice'. All of the charcters in fact fit together so nicely with a style that makes you love them all. The backgrounds are all pre-rendered with limited movement involved in them. But they do look very grainy and the camera angle does change to different views quite often and sometimes the 3D characters emposed upon the backgrounds dont keep up with the changes of scenery. But they serve there purpose. What mistified me was that at the end of the game you are sucked into a TV to fight the Boss and the graphics change to a 2D cartoon style with cel shaded charcters, and these look so impressive, the entire game in this style would have kept a more timeless look IMO.


My good god. This is definatly the highlight of the game. the whole gameplay of this title rests on the fact that the musci is soo good. Its funky, its rocky and its techno. It has a kitch retro feel that makes it even more appealing, it is so out of the ordinary. This explanation is simple: THE MUSIC IS THE BASIS FOR THE GAME AND SINCE THERE IS MUSIC THERE IS A GAME.

Closing Comments:

Something that struck me after completing it is that due to the games reliance on music there is little room for clever gameplay and tactics. There is one way to do something and thats it... no second way, no clever tactics (apart from downright cheating) this does play against the title, in that if you just can't get the timing you just have to learn and learn so other way, no personalised tactics.

For a game that treats a certain aspect of the game, in this case the music, with such passion it is freshing to see that all the other aspects fall around it and sit comfortably to create a great little title. And to add some extra playability to the proceedings once you finish the game once you can play Extra mode in which you get to go around a different route (altho these sections feel cheaper and employ the more conventional gameplay found in the game).

On any other console at the time of its release it would have been something truely original but on the DC i think we came to expect it from a Sega that was IMO on the best form it has been in a long while.

It wasnt worth the £40 price tag that it cost when it was first released but from a price anywhere below £20 you will get a bargin (all look out for the PS2 version)






I don't like giving scores but I have to say that a 6, for example doesn't mean 60%.

1: Disgusting, Unplayable

2: Playable but to the point of desperation

3: This game will stand up against the best 3DO titles in terms of quality, not good!

4: Below Average

5: So Average

6: A Solid title, with a few nice parts

7: A well put together title that will keep you engaged and playing

8: Very Good

9: Amazing, a definate buy


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  • 1 month later...

Part 2 can be had from amazon.de and amazon.fr. It's PAL for the PS2. Not sure if it has English language though. And it's 25 euros too. Not sure what that'll cost overall with packaging.

Space Channel 5 Part 2 on German Amazon

There ya go.

SC5 PT2 on DVDcrave

And again from an australian site.

I think Amazon.de deliver to the UK, but don't quote me.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

the bosses in each SC5 game are amazing, you get a glowing bubbly feeling when playing against them, and beating them... whoa! "let dance to the ends of the galaxy..."

but i find my results at boths games un-constant. Some days I'm great and some I'm terrible. I'v found that just listening and not looking at the TV is sometimes the best way to get thru it.... no fun tho looking at ya feet!

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Get Part 2 if you can. Much better than 1 in every way and still looks fucking great to this day as it's all polygon based with those FMV backgrounds done away with. Part 2 rocks. (oh, and Part 1 is an 8 at least :D )

I'd tend to disagree with you, actually. Part 2 has better gameplay, is longer and has excellent replay value (oh, how I love dressing Ulala up), but I think it loses some of it's charm with the polygon environments and I don't think the music is as good. Also, Part 1's ending is better - Part 2's is good, but nothing beats having the crowd singing with you.

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  • 1 month later...

Both were great games though Part 2 was far superior, the polygon backgrounds add more polish to the title and the instruments at different places in the game were a nice touch - I love the guitar battle with Pudding, one of the highlights of the game!

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I got a DC not too long ago and so have only discovered SC5 recently. It's very pretty, and also quite funny...the only problem is that the timing is very harsh, although those who read E128's top 100 will know that grooving while you play helps you gain rhythm (indeed, I was doing this before I noticed the Edge comment: desperate to get some rhythm, I started tapping the pad with my finger, then tapping my foot, and eventually moving around to the rhythm. Granted I looked like a fool, but it got me through the game.)

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  • 12 years later...
  • 5 weeks later...
On 4 October 2016 at 23:23, Comrade said:

I, too, am astonished that a VR version of the dancing game Space Channel 5 involves dancing.


I hated Space Channel 5.  My Dreamcast would never respond to the classy shapes I was throwing in front of my TV.

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On 04/10/2016 at 23:23, Comrade said:

I, too, am astonished that a VR version of the dancing game Space Channel 5 involves dancing.


Astonishing! Hold on one minute though, where's the dancing? I see waggling but no one was throwing mad shapes in that video just upsies and downsies.

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