Space Channel 5
The popularity of titles like PaRappa, Bust a Groove and Beatmania must surely have caught the attention of the powers that be at Sega. With the exception of Beatmania, none of the music titles sold particularly well. What they did do, however, was even more crucial for Sony's console and that was generating tons of buzz and word on the street. To get that type of reaction, a game has to have catchy music and a personality all its own.
Space Channel 5 is such a game and as far as personality goes, Ulala is sure to be the hottest gaming diva of the millennium (check out our Slick 50 feature from last issue). Ulala is the star reporter for Space Channel 5 and as luck would have it, aliens have taken humans as hostage. These curious fellows dance and jiggle around, and the only way to defeat them is to mimic their moves and actions to the rhythm. Our favorite reporting gal uses not only her hips to shake away the baddies but also a cool jet pack and twin space blasters. The aliens can be dispatched with the standard beam while various humans who appear must be saved by pressing an alternate button, just as PaRappa had his "Cool" meter, Ulala has a percent rating which goes up to loo. Passing 95 percent will cause her to start glowing sort of like she's on fire. There are four stages in all and to see the next one requires a certain percentage.
Divas can't be caught wearing the same tired clothes, so each level will spotlight a funky new outfit for the sexy star. As cool as Ulala is, no music game would be jamming if it didn't have earpleasing tunes. The style is sort of a hip retro groove that is very '70s, but at the same time contemporary with a splash of Spanish horns to set the mood. It may sound strange, but you'll dig it instantly and hum the melodies for weeks.
The game gets to be surreal at times with wildly flashing lights, exploding meteors, octopi like tentacle monsters and a rival reporter named Pudding. Sega of America is hinting that Space Channel 5 is looking like a third quarter release here (That makes sense considering the U.S. launch of PlayStation 2 is most likely this September.). If anyone is up to the challenge of Sony's new machine it's Ulala...and the long-delayed online gaming network wouldn't hurt either.