Space Station Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley, an experimental robot space station, vanishes on its maiden voyage and reappears 1000 years later. Don't worry, this ain't Event Horizon! Dan Danger, Earth's bravest (and most affordable) hero investigates and finds...a weird-but-kinda-fun puzzle/strategy game. You'll guide a spiderlike silicon chip into the electronic brains of bizarre animatronic robots to solve perplexing and sometimes strange tasks through 30 stages. Sure you'll encounter motorized mice, Snoopy-dog jets, and monster-truck lions, but you may also find that Silicon Valley is more than just silly.
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Space Station Silicon Valley is a strange puzzle/action game that magnifies the "silly" in "silicon" and gets away with it--due to an entertaining challenge factor.
You actually play as a spiderlike silicon chip. Yes, you're all that's left of a salvage robot that crash-landed on a 1000-year-old station overrun with weird robotic animals. You must take control of the robots, using them to solve various puzzles as you travel through four increasingly difficult environments.
Space Station's gameplay is a kick, backed by solid controls. SSSV's challenge is compounded by the strangeness of the part-organic, part-mechanical creatures; it'll be up to you to master such animal oddities as floating sheep, motorized mice, and snowmobile seals with fish torpedoes. Because every machine animal has its own strengths and weaknesses, your brain will get a workout trying to figure out how best to exploit them in order to solve the game's puzzles and find the exit warps.
The graphics are simple and cartoony in a funny-looking way, but the sounds are just barely alive. Meanwhile, the automatic game camera sometimes plants itself at angles that make obstacles more irritating than challenging.
Space Station is special--it's either going to be a hidden treasure or a guilty pleasure. If you can get into it, take a trip through this Valley.
- In the Euro Eden area, the floating sheep are usually the key to success.
- Cameras will reveal how to reach certain areas, but you can use them only once.
- You must learn to make ice bunnies change direction in midair.
Take 2's game that we previewed two months ago (see "Sneak Previews," June) showed plenty of promise and lots of improvements at the show. Space Station's concept is unique, though its 3D stages are somewhat reminiscent of Mario's. In Space tion, you play as a silicon chip that must in habit different animals and complete certain objectives. The game, which takes place aboard a spaceship with multiple environments, such as jungle, desert, sewer, and ice areas, adds a further strategic element that comes from understanding the different skills of the animals you must possess. Space Station Silicon Valley looks different, and it looks like fun.
Wacky is a mild way of describing this complex and silly game. The concept is different--you are a wandering computer chip aboard a multi-environment spaceship (with jungle, desert, ice, and sewer areas) that must possess different animals in the game and complete certain objectives. Since some animals have different skills from others, you'll spend a lot of time exploring the Mario-ish levels. Although early in development, the game shows promise for sim, strategy, and/or animal enthusiasts. Will wacky translate to fun? Find out later this summer when you'll be able to trip the galaxy fantastic.
Just when 3D mascot-based games are starting to really look and play alike, along comes Space Station Silicon Valley, a new and innovative 3D action game. Sure you run around and collect icons. Sure you play as a cute and cuddly animal (well, actually several cute and cuddly animals). But the gameplay is totally fresh and original.
You are Evo, an intelligent robot who is sent to investigate the mysterious reappearance of a long-lost space station. The Silicon Valley project started more than 1,000 years ago. It was mankind's first attempt to produce intelligent, self-sufficient machines. A few minutes after the space station launched, however, it disappeared. Now it's back with robotic life-forms that have evolved beyond control. This lighthearted game starts out with a humorous intro that has you crashing into the space station. Evo's body is destroyed, but his mobile and intelligent "black box chip" survives. This chip lets you control any of the robot animals you encounter, provided they are deactivated (i.e., dead).
Each of the 30 primary levels is inhabited with a variety of wildlife. The animals can range from mice to gorillas to piranha to penguins. Every animal has very unique characteristics; some can jump, some can fly, some can bite, some can float, some can swim, some can carpet bomb, etc. To get through each of the stages, you have to figure out what animal you want to control and when. See a hole too small for your lion to crawl through? Find and take over the body of a mouse instead. Got some heavy boulders in your way? Find a strong elephant so you can move them. Every animal has unique skills that will help you get through the levels. On the stage "Have a Nice Day!" for instance, your objective is to collect all the bonus icons and to round up four sheep into a pen. Since sheep are afraid of dogs, you can use a dog to scare them to go where you want. A couple of the bonus items are on islands where the dog can't swim to, however, so you'll have to bite one of the sheep to death so you can take over its body to float to those islands.
As you can tell, Space Station Silicon Valley offers some pretty innovative ideas. It's definitely a change of pace from the traditional 3D platform-action games we're used to seeing on the Nintendo 64.
I am going to try to explain something and it will not be easy to do. I don't want it to sound like I am whining or complaining, because that is not how it is meant. Okay, I am just going to say it: video games are really starting to bore me. Wait, don't go away. Let me expound on that. First, this is not a good thing to say if your job involves living and breathing video games. I love games, but I am just really getting tired of the same old crap being recycled over and over again. The N64 is starting to have its share of rehashed crap games and it is all just really starting to bore me. I know, my life is so rough.
So why did I just tell you about how boring games are? Because, thanks to Space Station Silicon Valley (SSSV), there is still a glimmer of hope that video games can be fun again. Games can be original. Games can actually offer something new to the world. SSSV is all these things and more! This game is like nothing you have ever played before and it is a beautiful thing. If puzzles, exploration and sheep are your thing, I suggest you check this game out right away.
Normally I use the Overview section to set the scene and the story, but the story is such an integral part of the game, I thought it was best to put it in the Gameplay section (and because I used up all the space on my 'video games are boring' rant). Anyway, let me set the scene. In the year 2001 (not so far away any more), a very large and expensive space station was launched. This space station was to be an experiment in artificial life and robotic evolution. Seven minutes after the space station was launched, it disappeared. A massive search took place, but there was never any trace of the whereabouts of the station. Fast forward to the year 3001 (still pretty far away); Space Station Silicon Valley has been spotted. The Earth's government sent out marines to investigate. After the third or fourth wave disappeared, they figured out that they were getting nowhere. They had only one choice: send in Dan Danger and EVO. Dan is human and EVO is a self-evolving robot. As they crash-land on the surface of the space station, EVO's body gets crushed and all that is left is a microchip. It is up to you to find a new host for this microchip to keep EVO alive and solve the mystery of SSSV.
Whew! I need to take a breath after all that. I rarely devote this much real estate to the back story of a game, but I feel that it is a very important part of understanding what the game is all about and why you are in the situation you are currently in. This game is filled with humor, puzzles, frustration, more humor, and best of all fun. Words can't do justice for the originality of this game, but I will do my best to give you an idea of what you have in store. I will also try not to reveal too much of the game because I think a big part of the fun of this game is discovering the secrets and new animals on your own. If I tell you about everything, it may ruin your experience.
The basic idea is to solve the mystery of the space station. You actually have a more pressing issue after you land. Your first priority is to find a new host for EVO's microchip. Lucky for you, all the animals on the space station are evolving robots just like EVO, so your microchip will fit their bodies just fine. Not so lucky for you is that you can't transfer it into another animal's body unless it is deactivated (killed). Luckily for you, your rocket ship crash-landed on a sheep-loving dog and deactivated it. You jump out of your ship and into the body of the dog, and your adventure begins.
One of the coolest things in this game is the number of animals (over 40) you will take control of during your journey. Why control different animals, you ask? Because each of the animals has a special ability. You can usually guess that if you see an animal in a level, you will need to take over that animal at some point to help you finish the level (more on finishing levels in a minute). Each of the animals also has different ratings to environmental hazards. Some animals can't swim. Others die if they fall from heights. Some animals have poor traction while others don't slide on slippery surfaces. Some animals are slow and heavy while others are light and can fly. Each of these traits will come into play at some point in a level.
As you can obviously tell, the game is broken up into levels. Each level has an objective or a number of objectives that must be accomplished before the exit warp portal opens up. There are also power cells located throughout the world. These power cells will be used to repair EVO's body, so you will want to collect all of them in every level. Every level also has a souvenir. These are valuable items that usually appear someplace after you complete all the level objectives and collect all the power cells. Sometimes they are in obvious locations, and other times you really have to search for them. You can finish and exit a level without getting the souvenir, but they will pay off in the long run.
A big part of this game is solving puzzles, which usually requires the use of the animals in some form or fashion. I will tell you a little bit about one of the puzzles you will encounter early on, just to give you an idea of what they are like without giving away too much of the game. You need to get some power cells that are out on an island. You are currently in the body of the dog and the dog does not have the ability to jump. How are you going to get out to the island? The answer: Deactivate a sheep and take over its body. The sheep can not only jump, but float in the air (and swim really well). You have to take the sheep to a high ledge, jump and float to the island to get the power cells, and then swim back to the safety of the shore. Okay, this is not a very complex puzzle, but it is one of the first that you will encounter. Trust me, they get a lot more difficult.
Do I have any complaints with the game? Yes, I have a couple. One is pretty minor, but the other is a bit more. My minor complaint was that as the levels progress, they get more and more difficult (which is good). The problem is that if you die in a level, you have to start all over from the beginning. There was more than one time that I was regretting going through 45 minutes of stuff all over again. It would have been nice to have save points halfway through some of the more difficult levels.
My bigger complaint was with the camera angles. This is a 3D-style game, and we all know how much fun maneuvering the camera angles can be in these types of games. I would say that this game is no worse than any of the others, but it still a little frustrating. I had more than one unforced death due to camera problems. You do have a manual control, but it does not always work. As I said, this is a common problem with 3D games, but it still needs to be mentioned.
For the most part, I really enjoyed the graphics in this game. Everything is 3D and looks nice, if not a bit blocky. There are a ton of different animals and they all look great. There are also plenty of different environments to explore, and you will never find yourself unsure of what you are looking at. Everything is crystal clear and the N64 fog is nowhere to be found. What you will find is some occasional slowdown but nothing terrible.
This game is one of a kind. That is quite a compliment in this day and age. I think the developers should be commended for going out and trying something new and different. With all the different levels, environments, puzzles and animals, this is a game that is sure to keep you playing for hours. While the concept may sound a bit strange, the game is a blast once you get the hang of it (which shouldn't take too long). I suggest you check this game out.
If you've seen the film Event Horizon then you'll be familiar with the basic storyline behind Space Station: Silicon Valley. A huge, state-of-the-art space vehicle that vanished into deep space some time ago has returned suddenly from the depths of nowhere, and few governing forces on Earth want to know why.
It's at this point that the two storylines diverge a little. In Event Horizon, the government send a crack rescue team in a multi-billion dollar spacecraft to investigate the problem, encounter living embodiments of their own worst nightmares and ultimately end up in the seventh level of Hell. In Silicon Valley, the government sends out heroes for hire' Dan Danger and his robot sidekick Evo in their craft, which is the spacegoing equivalent of a secondhand Morris Minor, to deal with a load of slightly loopy robotic animals.
Not surprisingly Dan and Evo cock things up and manage to crash their craft on the station, destroying Evo's body and crushing a lovestruck robotic sheepdog in the process. With a flash of inspiration, Evo's cerebral chip takes reluge in the body of the defunct dog nd he sets out to find the necessary means to repair himself, their craft and the space station while at the same time attempting to discover what happened to the station crew.
You assume control of Evo's chip just after he's parted company with his head and the first order of business is to hop into the body of the defunct robotic sheepdog. This is one of the innovative features of Silicon Valley. Evo has the ability to transfer his consciousness into any dead robot that he wishes, and this concept is what the majority of the puzzles that make up each level of the game are based around.
The idea is to move from level to level activating, deactivating, repairing and destroying various station systems along the way. To assist Evo in his quest, Dan offers helpful (and not so helpful) advice from the safety of their grounded ship. It's then up to Evo to assume control of the various robotic animals he encounters in order to complete various tasks - the only catch being that he must kilt the animals first.
As a result, a lot of the gameplay in Silicon Valley involves beating, shooting, squashing or otherwise maiming a whole host of weird, cute, cuddly animals. If this seems a little sick, it is!
At the ECTS show, one of the guys who worked on the game explained that DMA deliberately decided all the animals should be robots for the very reason that they could then do all manner of unspeakable things to them.
Robots they may be, but a robotic cute bunny still looks like a cute bunny! Those of you with a slightly warped sense of humour are going to love the visual gags in this game. Those of you of a more sensitive disposition might be a little disturbed by it all, but after a while you'll come to understand the fun involved in butchering innocent penguins and launching rocket attacks on bunny rabbits with helicopter rotors for ears.
Worlds Within Worlds
The levels in Silicon Valley - 30 in all - are divided into four distinct environmental sections; European, Ice, jungle and Desert. Each environment has its own terrain and its own environment-specific wildlife. Puzzles in the game start off fairly simple and get progressively more complex as you move through the game. On the first level for instance, the two tasks are to find a sheep (in other words, kill and possess it) and to locate some energy, neither of which should present much of a problem. On later levels, however, the puzzles become far more complex.
You can't just go around killing everything either. While you're initially fairly safe annihilating pretty much any animal you see and taking control of them for a bit of driving and weapons practice, on subsequent levels it becomes imperative that you don't kill the wrong ones. On one level, for instance, several small penguins hold notes that you need to complete a tune. The penguins will only give up the notes to the right animal and if you inadvertently kill any of them you won't be able to finish the mission.
Turbo Tortoise Action!
Silicon Valley is fairly non-linear in nature. Within a level, the various missions can usually be completed in any order, although sometimes you'll need the result of one mission to finish a different one - you might need to activate a computer as one mission objective and then make use of that computer for a second objective. As far as the stages themselves go, you only need to complete some of the levels in the first stage to open the first level in the second stage. This means that you can start a new environment beloie you finish the previous one, thus (hopefully) preventing you Irom getting stuck on one level and the whole thing becoming too frustrating.
The final level of each environmental stage is a bonus game and the reward for the winnei is a piece of Evo's original robot body - after all. he couldn't very well go back home and visit the local heroes' club wearing a sheep, could he? These bonus games are nicely thought out, and the final one is almost a game in itself!
Silicon Valley is unusual in that it's an attempt at an innovative game that actually works. 1 he variety of different animals that you control with their widely differing control methods and abilities means that the game never gets boring, and the fact that it's possible to go from an elephant to a flying parrot to a swimming fish - all of whom have unique control characteristics - means that each level can be totally different in gameplay to the previous one.
The puzzles in Silicon Valley are varied and fun, preventing the whole thing from ust becoming a matter ot repeatedly killing things, and this is yet another factor which keeps the interest going. The learning curve is well thought-out - you should breeze through the first few stages fairly easily, giving you a chance to get used to handling the first animals you encounter, but pretty soon everything becomes a lot less obvious and you'll find yourself needing to put a lot of thought into the game. This isn't a game you're going to finish overnight.
If you like cute cartoon animals and mind-boggling puzzles then you're going to love this game. At the same time, if you hate cute cartoon animals then you're going to enjoy being able to massacre them. So, something for everyone!
Bizarre but very playable platform/action/puzzle hybrid involving the assimilation of robot animals. Excellent.
Brilliant puzzle game, come bite-'em-up. We love it.
Finally, a game that tries to take the 3D platformer in a different direction and places the emphasis on its game rather than how it looks. Like Turok and Zelda it's a huge challenge but I reckon that it's different enough to hold its own amongst the heavyweights.
It's one of the most enjoyable games around, and slaughtering herds of exotic animals has never been so much fun. I think maybe I was a dog in a former life. A serial sheep-worrier. Silicon Valley gives me the opportunity to relive my former glories.
Silicon Valley is a wonderful game. Its animals are ace and chopping and changing between them in order to complete ever more ludicrous missions is inspired. It's not perfect, but it still manages to scrape Mr Genius' golden-tinged skin on a couple or ten occasions. Yummy.
Because it's different. Because for everything it does that isn't quite right, it does at least ten others that make you want to forgive it immediately. The animals are great the plot's great the music's great and it's got exploding 'number twos' in it Can't be bad.
Well, coming from the ever-inventive DMA, it's chock-full of imagination, oodles of intelligence and lashings of fun. The bum-rocketed King Penguin just about sums it up, really.
The most original console game ever doubles up as a breathtakingly clever and supremely playable platformer-cum-adventure. Essential.