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Space Channel 5

Just Bust a Move

By Jumaane Jeffries

Staff Writer

Console: Sega Dreamcast

Genre: Action/Adventure

No. Of Players: 1

Retail: $39.95

Every once of a while, a game comes out that is so unique that people just can’t help but stop and stare. This is especially the case when a video game gets more advance hype than Mission: Impossible 2. Sega’s Space Channel 5 is the latest example of such a game. With its amazing visuals and thumping music, Space Channel 5 is entertaining on many levels. It is more than a mere video game, it is an interactive funky-fly music video dance craze.

The premise is this: In 2499, the Morollians, a bouncy alien race -- think really rubbery, short Intel guys -- have invaded the earth to hypnotize the Earthlings into dancing uncontrollably. You are Ulala, a groove-a-licious reporter sent by Space Channel 5 to subdue the aliens and rescue the humans. You do so by mimicking the dance moves of the aliens, which involves pushing the same buttons at the same rhythm.

Sounds simple, no?

“Up! Left! Shoot!” Take that to the tenth power, and you’ll only have half of the complexity of Space Channel 5’s complicated rhythms and combinations.

Upon the small chance that you haven’t seen her before, Ulala is a leggy 70s throwback-babe in a nifty short skirt. The graphics are well done, displaying the Austin Powers-like scenery with great, smooth animation. There are, however, split seconds when characters and their frames do not syncopate -- minor inconsistencies that do not harm the overall success of the game.

If you were a Genesis aficionado, you may recall Sega’s series of buy-it-for-the-soundtrack games: Streets of Rage, Ecco the Dolphin, Greendog, etc. Space Channel 5 is probably the most blatant of them all. It’s a lively mix of secret agent music, funk, techno, and hip-hop, albeit a bit less Grandmaster Flash-influenced as say, the original video game funkstas ToeJam & Earl. You’ll also be especially pleased by who makes a cool cameo appearance.The music is important to your progress in the game, since it’s your job to follow the beats.

The fact that the lengths of the rhythms and combinations that the player needs to mimic changes without warning give the game added difficulty. Despite its sometimes mind-boggling difficulty, I manage to finish Space Channel 5 on the day I obtained it. Still, I have seen this game stump quite a few people.

I have to reveal a gameplay hint, however silly it may seem. When I had much trouble with the climactic final level, I realized that bobbing my head helped me get through the most challenging rhythms and combinations.

In short, Space Channel 5 busts more moves, than, well, Bust-A-Move. But there is indeed untapped potential here. A game like this could well be insanely hard, and could be enhanced by progressively more difficult levels, and having two competing players would be a nice touch, which can also add to its replay value. Regardless, give Space Channel 5 a spin.