Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Space Channel 5 (PS2)

Time Played: 1 hour

What Happened:

I've been visiting a couple of local used games stores lately, which sell a lot of older games. It's cool because there really are a ton of games that I missed, and now I get the opportunity to check them out. For example, I got my hands on the PS2 port of this game for about $4, and I'd always wanted to try it.

Basically it's a call and answer music/rhythm game. You get a sequence of inputs to a rhythm and you repeat them back. This one follows a space reporter (who rescues people and carries a laser gun) and focuses on dance. In each level, there is a situation where people are being held hostage by aliens, and you go through a series of sequences where you dance and shoot to save them. Each level seems to feature some sort of rival entertainer (another reporter, a pirate radio personality) that you dance off against, as well as a giant monster boss which requires you to alternate between your 'shooting things' and 'saving things' buttons.

What I Liked:

Over the Top! I'm a big fan of games that celebrate the fact that they are games by being wacky and over the top. The entire premise for this show is ridiculous, and I love it. Is she a reporter, or a crime fighting vigilante? What in the world does dancing have to do with beating aliens? Why do the rescued hostages feel compelled to dance along behind her once you've saved them? How can she walk in those shoes? Who cares? It's super fun.

Dance Choreography. It's primarily a dancing game, and I think the dancing is really well done. It too, is over the top - particularly her 'good' or 'bad' walk from sequence to sequence (in fact, the walk is so funny when you do fail that I don't feel all that bad about doing poorly). Despite some minor foot sliding (and a weird bug where Ulala lost contact with the ground for a whole sequence) the animation looks great.

Structure. I think there is a good mix of types of sequences - there are sections where enemies/hostages pop up and you have to aim & shoot at them to a rhythm, sections that are purely dance, and sections that are purely shooting. The shooting sections are particularly cool, since you get a different dramatic camera shot for each hit. I think the game has a nice mix, so you don't quite feel like you're always doing the same thing, even though you really only have 6 different actions.

Characters. All that same stuff about being over the top can be said about the characters. They're all totally crazy looking and seem to show up for no reason. It's pure joy.

Gameplay! I dunno, music/rhythm is fun! I like when there's a particularly challenging rhythm to repeat and I nail it.

What I Didn't Like:

Timing. This game is totally unforgiving in terms of your input window. I noticed this when I picked up Parappa again maybe 2-3 years ago: there are a lot of time where you could swear you were doing it correctly, but getting negative feedback. This could also just be a product of the game being an older title.

Repetitive? I didn't get sick of it yet, but I also get the feeling I've seen all this game really has to offer in terms of gameplay. Maybe that's just fine though. :) I'll have to play it some more and see if I feel like it gets old - because I hadn't really felt that yet.

Failing. Failing sucks because you have to replay the entire level. I only failed once, but I think if I had failed twice I probably would have quit playing. I think the joy in this game is seeing what's coming up next, so repeating a section lost a lot of the magic.

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:

Overall I think it was fun and I want to check it out some more!

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