I have very fond memories of Ulala and her dancing heroic antics in the original Space Channel 5. I had never, however, played Space Channel 5 Part 2, which was originally exclusive to the Dreamcast in Japan, until it was re-released on the PlayStation 2. The sequel was generally regarded as superior to its predecessor in terms of graphics, gameplay, game length, and more, but its limited release stunted its popularity and potential. Now, it makes its way to XBLA, and having taken the time to explore it, I can finally agree that it is, in fact, superior to its predecessor.
But is it superior…TO ITSELF?
The graphics still look solidly like those of a Dreamcast game. In general, I find nothing wrong with that. I love the Dreamcast, and think it was highly underappreciated. However, for a re-release, there has to be a point. Generally it’s graphical and gameplay improvements. Space Channel 5 Part 2, as far as I can tell, has made neither. But what it already was…well, it’s just really good.
The game is a basic rhythm game. You dance battle your way through the Rhythm Rogues in an attempt to save innocents and the Space President. Everything you’re doing, since you’re primarily a space reporter, is being televised. Your performance on the dance battles is scored by a viewer rating. The more accurate your performance, the higher your viewer rating, and the higher your overall score. A and B control two different sounds, while the rest of the actions are controlled by the directional buttons. You are presented with your opponents dance pattern and timing, and you must match his pattern and timing as closely as possible to move forward.
One of the things added to Space Channel 5 Part 2 from the original Space Channel 5 are instrument battles, which consist of the same type of pattern matching gameplay, but with the down arrow being used to strum your instrument. Another newcomer to the game is the 100 stage gauntlet mode. Here, it’s dance or be defeated. You work your way through 100 dances, but if you fail just once, you start from the top of the list again.
Oh, and Michael Jackson reprises his voice-over role as Space Michael.
If you’re a fan of Tetsuya Miziguchi in general, you’ll enjoy Space Channel 5 Part 2. If you’re a fan of the original games, you’ll enjoy this one. If you’re looking for something new, be it graphics, gameplay, multiplayer, etc., then you’re not going to find it, but what it does offer is still so sublimely cool. This is definitely a strange, quirky game. If you’re a fan of that kind of thing, or of rhythm games that have fun plots, this is definitely one to add to your collection. No matter what, you can’t help but be pleased with the 800MSP price point for an absolute classic.
|Needs more of a graphical update|