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TGS 2001 Fall: Space Channel 5 PS2 Hands-on

We check out Ulala's moves on the PlayStation 2.

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Sega gave gamers a chance to try out the PlayStation 2 version of Space Channel 5 at the ongoing TGS. Originally developed for the Dreamcast by internal development team United Game Artists, the game introduced Ulala--the hot-pink coiffed and stylishly swinging reporter who set out to rescue hapless humans enslaved by aliens by outdancing the brightly colored extraterrestrials. Gameplay required players to repeat D-pad motions and button presses that either shot aliens or teleported humans to safety. The game offered a bright color palette, unique character design, and arguably one of the catchiest soundtracks ever heard in a game. The PS2 incarnation of the title appears to be a straightforward port of the DC game. We played through the first level and found the game to be true to the look and feel of the DC game.

Graphically, the game is solid, re-creating the DC version's unique approach--SC5 blends polygonal characters with streaming MPEG backgrounds. While the colors aren't quite as bright and vibrant as they are in the DC version, they are nonetheless very solid. The polygonal characters are a mix of good news and bad news. Those familiar with the look of the original will be pleased to see the detail on the humans who fall into step behind Ulala after she rescues them has been slightly increased. However, all the polygonal characters, including Ulala herself, sport a case of the jagginess found in some PS2 titles. While the jagginess does not affect the gameplay, it may be a bit jarring for those who are accustomed to Ulala's smooth and sleek look on the DC.

The gameplay has been brought over intact and is spot-on thanks to responsive control. You'll use the D-pad to match the alien's cries of up, down, left, and right and use the X and O buttons to either zap aliens or teleport humans to safety in shooting segments. As before, Ulala's dance steps change to reflect the changes in her ratings due to successfully rescuing humans or making errors when dancing. The PS2 controller's rumble feature comes into play by vibrating after an error has been made.

So far, SC5 on the PS2 is looking to offer the same experience gamers had on the DC last year. There's no word yet on whether there will be any significant enhancements to the game to ward off the criticism aimed at the DC version for its short length (the game could be finished in roughly an hour). Space Channel 5 for the PlayStation 2 is slated to ship in spring 2002.

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