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Space Channel 5

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Released: 1999

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Dreamcast

Publisher: Sega

Developer: UGA

Submitted by: Craig Hawkins

Aliens. They've probed us, stolen our identities, enslaved us, occupied our planet, systematically wiped us out and befriended Steve Guttenberg. They've been bad to us, even worse than what we've been to ourselves, but we have never dealt with a space race quite so callous, so despicable as the Morolians. These scum are forcing us to DANCE. And they’re making us enjoy it. Someone needs to hand me a ray gun, I won't take this lying down. I'm gonna die with my boots on, my… orange kinky boots?

Something's up. I'm feelin' kinda… funky.

Hey there, spacecats! We're live on Space Channel 5. The capable hands of Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Sega Rally) steered the wheel of this dance odyssey set on a spacestation. It's a sci-fi rhythm-action title that plays to the Dreamcast's strengths of vibrant arcade immediacy. Enter Space Reporter Ulala.

One of Sega's most identifiable characters and a cosplay favourite (it gets nasty when overweight, middle-aged male gamers attend parties dressed as her), news anchor Ulala struts in to save the day. She loves to dance, help people and grab all the exclusive stories. She is the ultimate rhythm-action star.

As with every other entry in the genre, Space Channel 5 sticks to PaRappa the Rapper's Simon says 'hit the buttons in time' gameplay. It differs from the norm, however, in that there are no onscreen icons to follow, instead you simply listen to the aliens' instructions and tap away to the beat of their tune. If successful, you shoot the Morolians and free their hostages. This is where it gets groovy. Once freed, the hostages form a dance troupe with you and it turns into something akin to a Michael Jackson video. And then Michael Jackson turns up. Shamone!

Rival news networks attempt to steal the scoops from under Ulala's dancing feet and you're required to keep your ratings high or the broadcast is taken off air. The stylistic visuals will never age, the tunes are stupendous. SC5 is a feel-good game, and goodness knows Dreamcast owners needed something to feel good about. Up, up, chu, chu!