For those that remember, Space Channel 5 started off as a Dreamcast title way back in 1999. For those that played it, the game itself hasn’t changed very much. In some areas I would even say it looks and performs worse than its first iteration. Button presses have given way to motion controllers, that’s probably it’s biggest departure. A mixture of a short experience, poor character movements, and several quality of life issues make for a rough time.
Dance the Night Away…for about Half an Hour
I’m just going to go ahead and get this one out of the way. The SC5 will set you back around $25 for the PSVR. The “campaign” will last you right around the 30 minute mark, spread out over four levels. So the core of SC5 will cost you just under a dollar per minute. There are a few additional modes to pad out the game play, like an arcade and exercise mode. However, I wasn’t able to find anything that could redeem it.
Overall the motion works…except for when it doesn’t. One or two of the primary dance moves never consistently translated through the motion tracking reliably. This in and of itself wouldn’t be too bad, however when you couple this with the 3 strikes and your out play style and the intros that can’t be skipped, the frustration begins to build rather quickly.
In addition, the visuals are subpar at best. Character lines are harsh, and character models are just bad. The animations aren’t much better, if in fact at all. In many instances, the background dancers have the same issues that many other older/cheaper games do. Those awkward moments where the NPC’s movements don’t align with the game’s design happen far too often.
The entire game consists of watching several alien invaders dance in front of you. Your task is to memorize their patterns, then repeat them at ever increasing speed. Completing this efficiently saves all of the innocent humans being held hostage in an everlasting dance routine. That’s pretty much the extent of the background, but I suppose for a dance routine game not much else is needed.
Around the Rough Edges
SC5 does do a few things well. The campiness is very well done. Everything that occurs and is stated in the game fits the overall tone and not much strays from that path. If saving humans from being doomed to a life of being a dance slave doesn’t drive the point home nothing will. Another plus being that in some sections you are required to move your entire body to match the movements seen on screen. Side stepping left or right in order to dodge incoming alien lasers seems overly simple, but when 90% of the game is moving your hand left or right the variety really helps to freshen it up.
The feeling of stepping back in time 20 years is a big bonus as well. The main character in the original, Ulala, is now your mentor as you become a fledgling journalist that must learn the ropes. This set up allows for an easier way to keep track of movement cues, as she acts as your guide throughout each level. For the most part this works, save for a few instances when you’re first learning the moves and her guidance leaves a good bit to be desired.
Dancing with the Past
There isn’t much I can recommend within SC5. The few positives were all brought from twenty years ago and haven’t been improved upon. There was a lot that could’ve been done, but it seems like a cash grab on the franchise instead of a passion project from lifelong fans. If you were fans of the previous entries, by all means go for it, but I would not make this a jumping in point for any newcomers.