Time For a Dance Party In Space – Space Channel 5 Part 2 Review

UGA / Sega – Xbox Live, Steam

Space Channel 5 Part 2. Wow. First off, where has this game been all my life?! Well ok, I knew of the Space Channel 5 series, but for whatever reason never bothered to pick up any of the games I came across at game stores or on XBLA or Steam. It was after my family bought the Sega Dreamcast Collection for the Xbox 360, which includes Space Channel 5 part 2, that I finally gave the game a shot. And oh man, my life has been made 300% better at least.

Now despite how much I loved Space Channel 5 Part 2, and how I now plan on playing every game in the series, I will admit that this isn’t a game for everyone. Space Channel 5 is incredibly unique and has style for DAYEZ, but its gameplay setup and source of replay value may turn off some. Nonetheless, if you like music games, or any game that has that sense of wackiness you can only get from Japan, I highly recommend this one.

Coming at you live with the latest story!

Those that haven’t played the original Space Channel 5 will be happy to hear that you don’t have to have played that game to enjoy the story of Part 2. Anything that would have been told in the first game is explained here, such as the backgrounds of the characters and why dance is being used to fight baddies. None of this is very complex anyways, so it won’t take long to get a hold on things.

If anything, Space Channel 5 Part 2 is a game where the style and the characters are more the appeal than the plot itself. This game is wacky, as in “this obviously came from Japan” wacky. I mean, the villain is trying to mind control everyone in the Milky Way via dance, and to do that he has to steal antennas from all of the galaxy’s major news stations! Throw in a space Michael Jackson and an alien news program explaining what’s going on, and what’s not to love?

Every character in this game has a distinct appearance and personality that were both enjoyable and memorable. I’d love to party with every single one of them, even the baddies. I especially have to give credit to the voice acting and dialog, which especially brings the characters to life. I should note, the main villain is voiced by the same guy who voiced the Nesquick Bunny in the 90’s and 2000’s, and their performance gave us one of those delicious goofy evil villains you’d expect out of a Disney movie, and it rocks.

And now, the style for DAYEZ

Personally, I feel style is more important than detailing when it comes to videogame graphics. I don’t care about seeing people’s sweat pores, I want characters and worlds that look distinct. Space Channel 5 Part 2 delivers that in spades. The polygon count is lower than I think most people would like, but you tend to overlook that thanks to the pretty colors and smooth animations of all the characters. The wackiness of the game shines through every character design and every stage. You can take a screenshot of any point of the game and you’d know right away it’s from a Space Channel 5 game, which to me is the ultimate compliment for a game’s visuals.

A significant part of the game’s style comes from the music, which is in a word: awesome. Every song in Space Channel 5 Part 2’s soundtrack has energy and a great groove. There were many times that I wished I could put the controller down and just dance to the music. Anytime I had to redo part of a stage, I was never frustrated because I got to hear part of a song again. This is a game where you’ll be running to get ahold of its soundtrack before you’ve even beaten it.

And now a word from our sponsor: Gameplay

Space Channel 5 is a rhythm game, but not in the way that most players are likely used to. When you say rhythm game, most people think of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, where you press buttons in time with notes hitting a marker on screen. What a lot of people forget about are games like Rhythm Heaven, where the game is based around following visual ques and moving objects or characters to the rhythm. Space Channel 5 Part 2 fits into the latter category. Sort of.

In Space Channel 5 Part 2, enemies on screen will do a dance routine and sing what they are doing. You then have to copy the routine they give you exactly by pressing the corresponding buttons. It’s like playing Simon while simultaneously following the beat and melody of a song. The challenge comes from trying to repeat patterns perfectly, if you mess up a pattern you lose a life, and your chance to have a 100% “viewer rating” based on your performance at the end of a level. Space Channel 5 Part 2, to a degree, is about memorization and coming back to try again for that perfect score. I do wish that the game was a little more lenient with how you have to follow sequences perfectly, it’s frustrating that getting all but one note right in a sequence is treated no differently than if you completely botched it, either way you lose a life.

As for the gameplay not being based around notes lining up with targets, I feel this can be both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is since you’re not focusing on lining up visual cues, you don’t have to worry about input delay on an HD TV throwing you off. The bad thing is, if you don’t have a strong sense of rhythm, not having markers on screen to help you with the timing can be challenging. Let me explain it like this: I’ve played percussion instruments my whole life, so I have a strong sense of musical timing, and I was able to jump into the game no problem. Meanwhile my 2nd cousin, who has very little experience with musical instruments, therefore not having a strong sense of  a musical timing, struggled on even the first level. It doesn’t help that Space Channel 5 Part 2 lacks any sort of tutorial or training mode, and the first level doesn’t really take its time in showing you things. The game also lacks multiple difficulties, the only way to make the game easier for beginners is to pick an option that makes every note the same button.

Tune in next week, same time, same channel!

Space Channel 5 is very much a “play again until you get it perfect” kind of game. The story mode is on the short side, easily completable in a few hours. The replay value comes from replaying the stages to get a 100% rating on each stage, as well as finding secrets. Doing so unlocks new costumes and items you can wear on stages. I know this kind of thing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those that want to get into it, the challenge of playing stages over and over to get 100% is extremely satisfying.

The only other mode available other than story mode is Ulala’s dance challenge, which is an endurance test to see how long you can go without making a mistake. It would be nice if there were some other songs or modes to play other than this and story mode, it does make the game feel thin in terms of content, which is my only genuine complaint other than how perfect you have to be.  

Conclusion

I would say that Space Channel 5 Part 2 is one of those games that isn’t for everyone, but those who get into it will really get into it. I had no experience with the original game before playing this one, but nonetheless I was caught hook, line, and sinker. The visuals, music, story, and characters are extremely unique, and the gameplay, while not exactly beginner friendly, kept me coming back for that 100% score. If you like music games, or fun wacky Japanese style games, Space Channel 5 is a must play. Now we just a crossover between this and Yakuza.

Buy at a Decent Price

Space Channel 5 Part 2’s style is undeniable and will make those who get into it want to 100% every stage. I would say proceed with caution if you’re not into learning an uncommon gameplay style or the main source of replay value being playing the game until you have it down perfect.

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