PS2 Reviews: Space Channel 5 Part 2
Space Channel 5 Part 2 screenshots
The Final Say!
Space Channel 5 Part 2 - reviewed by Rick T
Review Date: 11 March 2003
Review Score 8.5/10
Distributed By: Sony Computer Entertainment
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Rhythm/music action games have remained very niche in western markets. The Asian territories are infested with umpteen million incarnations of Beatmania, Dance Revolution, et al. Whereas western markets are lucky to get a single version of any of the popular series'. This is more than likely due to the downturn in the arcade business, how many of us even go to arcades anymore regularly to begin with? Anyway, Space Channel 5 Part 2 has received a western release. I am not sure just how successful the first iteration was on the PS2, but I do know the original Space Channel 5 did not sell as well as hoped in the western markets on its native Dreamcast as Sega had hoped for, hence the port to the PS2. The first Space Channel 5 was a great game and no mistake, it had the style, the gameplay and the all important music to make it standout as a real quality game. The PS2 port was identical to the Dreamcast original and has obviously sold well enough to warrant porting the Dreamcast's Space Channel 5 Part 2.
The good news is, the recipe that made SC 5 still works very well in Part 2. The rhythm/action gameplay has also been enhanced to include holding buttons down for certain periods, as well as a couple of other variations on the directional pad + "chu" or "hey" combinations.
You play the supremely sexy space reporter, Ulala. Once again aliens have been capturing people and taking their dancing skills and its up to you to save them by outdancing their alien captors. If you looked at the core gameplay subjectively, it would break down to increasing pattern memory using the "X" , "O" and d-pad buttons. But when combined with the amazing music and very stylized graphics, you get another game were the game itself is worth far more than just the sum of its parts.
Any rhythm/action game is only as good as the music it works with. In the tradition of the first SC 5 the music is very 60s style jazzy arrangements with a campy sci-fi touch. Its all very catchy and very well written, and it fits the atmosphere of the game flawlessly. Few games have soundtracks worth listening to outside of gameplay, but SC 5 Part 2 has one of the most listenable soundtracks ever. There are quite a few remixes of music from the first game in the series, and a lot of totally new songs,.. complete with singing lines as well, the localization of which is as good as can be expected, i.e. weak, but overall doesn't detract from the music itself.
Stylistically this game is awesome, and shows a hell of a lot more imagination and creativity than 90% of the software on PS2, but in terms of geometry and special effects, it fares poorly.
After playing the Dreamcast version of SC5 Part 2 I realized that the game looks noticeably cleaner on the native Dreamcast compared to PS2. There's less aliasing and the special effects, like the underwater stage, look a lot more impressive on Dreamcast. Alas SC 5 Part 2 was only released in tiny quantities in Japan on Dreamcast and the Playstation 2 version is the only one available to the domestic market.
There are more than enough gameplay modes and extras to make this game great value, including an excellent two player mode where one player does the d-pad sequences and the other does the "X" and "O" buttons. Lots of fun and a real concentration test in the later levels. The overall difficulty of the game I guess would be fairly low as most stages are engineered so that most people will be able to scrape through to the next one after a couple of continues. However the end stages are very unforgiving, just like the first game.
Overall Space Channel 5 Part 2 is a great game and a worthy addition to anyone's collection, and is a must if your a fan of Parappa/Gitaroo Man style games. The small graphical deficiencies compared to the Dreamcast version are a let down, but thankfully the wonderful graphic style and music still make this a very aesthetically accomplished title and an awful lot fun to play.
- Rick T
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