Review: Space Channel 5 (Game Boy Advance)

Hmmm. You know I had a choice between doing the Jet Grind Radio GBA review and this one. And guess what went through my head? ?Well, the play control on JGR is going to lose something in the port. And SC5 is a Rhythm game. How hard can THAT be to do correctly?? And therein lies the tragedy that will unfold later on in this tale gentle readers.

Now, I’ll admit this. I waited to buy a Dreamcast. I did not buy it at launch. Now it wasn’t because I didn’t trust Sega. I loved my Saturn. Hell, I was still playing it when I bought my Dreamcast. I had just gotten Shining Force 3, volume 2 and was replaying the games in order for the full story when I decided to get the Dreamcast.

Now there were three games I bought it for. The first was Royal Rumble. Stop laughing. I spent many a dollar on the Arcade Version of this game. Same with Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. Loved it, loved it, LOOOOOOOVED it! The second was Crazy Taxi. I’m not normally a driving game fan, but I loved this. The third was Space Channel 5.

As you all know, I have almost 40 games for the DC, but the launch was slow and didn’t intrigue me. Hence your proof I don’t buy systems because I love the company and am a blind fan boy. Okay, I bought the Neo Geo Pocket Colour because of that reason, but it was a GREAT SYSTEM! DAMN YOU ALL FOR NOT SUPPORTING IT!

Anyways, SC5. Space Channel 5 was the Anti-Tomb Raider. Lara was an arrogant Brit whose only appeal was that most gamers don’t seem to have a problem whacking it to pixilated characters. Ulala was fresh funny, and funky. Tomb Raider had to play control and storylines so implausible that the fact the game took them so damn seriously only compounded their annoyance. SC5 was purposely over the top, funny, and weird. The game was meant to be bizarre and took pride in that fact. And the play control was incredible. It was cute, and even though I would always get screwed up on the last boss with the reverse controls, I still loved the game.

So of course I wouldn’t pass up the chance to relieve some great gaming memories on my GBA, right? RIGHT? Well where are those memories now? Down the crapper baby! I’m so scared from this port that I’d rather contract Chlamydia than do this review. It both cheapens the original classic and makes me wish I could cut off all my fingers as it would be sweet release from the words I’m going to have to type below.

See, unlike the OTHER staff member, I say f*ck giving you the rating at the end. This game makes me want to spew profanity. So I’m telling you up front that this game sucks and you’re in for one hell of a cruel review. But that’s why you read me right?

Story
?Ulala’s Swinging Report Show!?

It’s the 25th Century. Aliens are watching our old TV signals similar to the Single Female Lawyer episode of Futurama. At least that’s what you get in the opening demo. These aliens are called the Moroloians. How we learn there name doesn’t matter, as nothing in this game actually makes sense. It’s cute Kitsch.

Now the aliens have ray guys. These ray guns don’t make you burst into flames, or turn us into parsnips, or genetically alter us into clones of David Arquette. No, they just make us dance. Why nukes or Anthrax weren’t launched at these eyeless creatures is beyond me. I guess in war, it’s how cute you are that matters.

And that’s where Ulala comes in. Because she’s cute. If you’re into pink haired chicks in tight orange clothing THAT DON’t REALLY EXIST?you Lara Croft perverts. She’s a journalist for the equivalent of a UHF station, and just like Kramer in that Weird Al movie, Ulala is sent in to cover the story.

From there we go all over, saving random people, and even Michael Jackson who does the impossible and manages to live longer than Dick Clark. Ulala meets a guy, a catty rival and uncovers a creepy conspiracy. All to a groovy hip retro beat. Although it’s in the future. But it’s retro. But it’s in the future. Some one save me from this temporal paradox!

Anyways, Space Channel 5 isn’t afraid to be insane. And that’s what makes Sega great. They’re willing to take risks like Space Channel 5, Typing of the Dead, and Phantasy Star Online. But they do make blunders as well, mainly in marketing. So one thing that has stayed the same from porting SC5 from the Dreamcast to the GBA is the sense of fun and coolness that emanated from the original.

But that’s where the honeymoon ends baby!

GamePlay

?Up Down Left Right Chu Chu Chu!? That’s your gameplay. At least in theory. You mimic the computer’s moves and timing. If an Alien does Left, left,?, Up, left, right. You then copy it back, making sure you pause at the right time and press at the right time. Pretty simple. Again. IN THEORY. After all, if you don’t have a sense of Rhythm, you’re going to suck at this game. Same holds true for any version of DDR. You need timing and a built in metronome to do good at these kinds of games.

Now in the lovely Dreamcast version, this was no problem. The controls worked great. It would respond when you pressed the buttons. It was a fun fun game. The GBA version however makes me long for the days of Superman 64. Yes you read that right. SC5: GBA’s controls are THAT bad.

Here’s a snippet of Alex Playing:

Game: ?Up?Up’shoot, shoot!?

Alex on his D pad. ?Up?Up’shoot, shoot!?

The actual result: ???????..UPUPSHOOTSHOOT.?

Alex: “Damn. I must be rusty. But I just went to the arcade and played DDR last night. Oh well.”

Game: ?Left, right, down, right, shoot, shoot shoot.?

Alex on his D Pad: Left, right, down, right, shoot, shoot, shoot.

The actual Result: ???.left?..right??..downright??.? (Game buzzes me because I took too long.)

Alex: “Hmm. Maybe it’s because I’m not using my SP.” (Alex uses his SP)

Game: ?Up, Down, Left, Right, shootshootshoot?

Alex: ?Up, Down, Left, Right, shootshootshoot?

Actual Result: ?????.up????????

Alex: “What the hell?????”

Game ? Up Shoot Right Shoot left Shoot Shoot?

Alex: ?Up Shoot Right Shoot Left Shoot Shoot?

Actual Result: ‘down down down shoot down down.?

Alex: “Did I have a big bowl of Crackling Acid Bran this morning for breakfast?”

And on it went. I spent three hours straight wondering if it was a faulty game, that both my GBA’s were screwed or even if maybe I needed an analog stick through my GP Player to make it work. And nothing worked. It’s as if the people who did quality control for this game had their pets kidnapped by Quebec Separatists and couldn’t concentrate on their job at hand. What the hell happened. It’s a game where 99% of the work is pressing the D pad once. No twists and turns, no Ikaruga like battles. No platform style jumping. HOW COULD YOU MESS THIS UP?

The controls are sluggish at best, and completely off at worst. You’ll press one thing and sometimes it won’t respond at all and Ulala will be standing around like a scantily clad narcoleptic. Why God? Why would you allow such a good game to be ruined? It’d be like taking Shining Force and turn it into a dating sim. Did I do something wrong and you chose to punish me by ruining Space Channel Five instead of simply making me a leper?

This is why I worship Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep. Then again, Ulala does show up in Persona 2. Maybe this IS the Crawling Chaos’ form of revenge?

Graphics.

Okay. It is by no means a fair comparison to take a 128 bit DC game and stand it next to a 32 bit handheld system and bitch about the obvious downgrade in the graphics. But even for a GBA game, this is sub par. The graphics are jaggy and blocky. Characters tend to be blurry and without detail. The backgrounds and Video segue ways are good enough. But there is so much better out there on the GBA.

SC5 was a visual delight on the Dreamcast, now it’s rather hard to look at. Maybe I am biased because of the original version, but the graphics in the port leave me cold and unimpressed.

Sound

Although a lot of the voice work is missing, especially in the segueways, the music is still faithful to the original and when the characters do speak it’s with the original voice work. Sure Ulala only really ever says “Ulala’s Swinging Report Show” but the Morolians sound like they should and if you close your eyes you can almost imagine you’re playing the DC version. And since it’s a copycat Rhythm game, you don’t really need to look at the tragedy that has befallen the graphics.

The music is nothing I’d buy a soundtrack for (although I did get a free one when I bought the game for the DC?), but it fits the game perfectly with its peppy zaniness.

Fun Factor

What did you expect me to say? It look ugly and plays even worse. If you buy a game to get pissed off at and spend the rest of the night muttering profanity and wondering why 411 couldn’t get you some nice Turbografx games as you ARE the Retro guy after all, then this is your game! Or if you buy games just for music, then maybe you could tolerate this one. But Jesus, buy the Dreamcast version. Hell people, you could probably buy a Dreamcast AND the original SC5 for the cost of the GBA game. Don’t buy this horrible mockery of an old favorite. Just don’t.

Ratings

Gameplay: 1
Graphics: 4
Sound:8
Fun Factor:3

Short Attention Span Summary
It?s Crap. Pure and utter Crap. This port has made me forget all the love I once had in my heart for the original SC5 and replaced it with a hatred that burns like a urinary tract infection. Seriously. Maybe my fingers have gone numb or maybe it will turn out instead of using the D pad, you?re supposed to use the shoulder buttons and Start and Select. But I doubt. I truly doubt it. Run from this game. DO not buy it. Do not let friends buy it. Let it become a memory that fades into legend that you will use to scare your grandchildren with. ?Eat all your Spinach Bobby or you?ll have to play the GBA version of Space Channel 5, and no one wants that now, do they? DO THEY?????