First Impressions: Space Channel 5

Sega's hip, hop, and stylish dancer takes gamers to a swinging future with the worst threat to Lara's fanbase yet.

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Being the dancing fools that we are, we got our disco hands on Space Channel 5 today and were we possessed by the rhythmic madness of Sega's newest hit. While you can loosely describe it as a Bust-A-Move Parappa-be, there's something about Space Channel 5 that's, hmm, more organic?

After an opening CG movie that sets up the story of the Moro aliens invading the planet Earth and controlling the minds of the populace through dance (much in the way Janet Jackson did for years), you enter the game. The game is unique in that it uses prerendered animated CG backgrounds superimposed with high-high-high-resolution characters. This lets Space Channel 5 render the multitude of high-polygon-count characters onscreen at once with very little slowdown, even as the action gets super frantic. Don't think that because this is a dancing game that it's easy. Oh no. Later on in the game, the tempo gets wild and so does the rhythms that you're required to emulate. The sad thing is that there's no two-player mode, where you could have really freestyled, and where you could have forced a friend to try to keep up with you. As it is, the game feels like an aerobics tape on crack, with straightforward grooves and helter-skelter beats. The more successful you are at matching beats, the bigger your posse gets. The worse you do, the more crew you lose to aliens and competing news channels. The character design and between-level cutscenes are very cool and show of the high-res graphics well.

The main character, Ulala, is more woman than Lara Croft ever could be. Her getup as a Space Channel 5 reporter consists of a bright orange midriff and short-short-short orange skirt. Her garter belt holsters the gun she uses to zap the enemy Moro and shock humans back to her side. Later in the game, she switches to a spaghetti-string tank top and short-short-short orange hot pants.

While Sega hasn't officially announced Space Channel 5 for the US, it's pretty much a given that this stellar-looking title will be coming here. All we need now is a soundtrack minus the annoying voices.

Stay tuned for more news and a full review of Space Channel 5 in the very near future.

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