Space Channel 5
From Sega Retro
Space Channel 5 (スペースチャンネル5) is a video game for the Sega Dreamcast released in Japan on the 16th of December, 1999, North America on the 6th of June, 2000 and in Europe on the 8th of October, 2000. It was the first game to be developed by the newly opened United Game Artists studio within Sega, spearheadded by Tetsuya Mizuguchi.
The game stars Space Channel 5 reporter Ulala, tasked with upping the ratings of the channel, and stopping the "evil" Morolians, who are forcing the galaxy to dance.
According to Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the Space Channel 5 project was born after a request from Sega to produce a game which appealed to "casual female gamers". Unaware that such a group in society existed, Mizuguchi spent much of the design phase interviewing young girls, ultimately coming to the conclusion that the puzzle genre was most suited to this demographic. However, in a bid to also appeal to a male audience as well, the game was designed to be competitive.
Space Channel 5 is primilary inspired by western culture of the 1960s, particularly a mix of fashion and espionage thriller movies such as James Bond. Its main theme, Mexican Flyer was originally released in 1965 (the same year Mizuguchi was born) by British composer and trumpeter, Ken Woodman.
Originally Space Channel 5 was said to simply be an interactive music video. Pressing buttons in time with the music would change the video, but little else would occur. Displeased by the lack of "fun", Tetsuya Mizuguchi demanded that elements inspired by the dance troupe, Stomp were implemented to liven up the gameplay. UGA's staff at the time struggled to comprehend some of the more radical ideas Mizuguchi put forward, so a pantomine was brought to UGA to lift spirits, ultimately inspiring the numerous "strike a pose" segments within the game.
Half way through production, Mizuguchi was contacted by Shuji Utsumi, who informed him that Michael Jackson was interested in taking part in the game. Utsumi had shown the star a 60-70% complete version of the game, set to be finalised within a month, and after some negotiations, "Space Michael" was put into the game. Mizuguchi and Utsumi would later found Q Entertainment in 2003.
Because the player has no control over Ulala's movement through stages, much of Space Channel 5 relies on pre-rendered backgrounds, leading to arguably more detailed visuals than what the Dreamcast could achieve in real-time.
Space Channel 5 is a rhythm game built similarly in nature to electronic memorisation games such Simon, and video games such as PaRappa the Rapper. Throughout the game the computer shows a sequence of moves—dance steps in this case—and the player must copy them successfully to advance. Repeated failure will force the show to be cancelled, effectively triggering a game over.
Space Channel 5 utilises six different commands - "Up", "Down", "Left", "Right", "Shoot" and "Shoot". The button corresponds to the aliens raising both paws or Ulala raising both hands. Pressing causes Ulala to lower only her right hand as her left hand contains a microphone. When either the or button are pressed she moves her hand in that direction. The Morolians will mimic Ulala's moves so pressing the directional pad will affect them also.
The "shoot" button is used for shooting at the Morolians or simply to perform another dance move. The "shoot" button is usually used for rescuing hostages. There also appears to be mispronunciation of "shoot" when the player presses either the or button. In the manual, it says "shoot", but the Morolians say words that are quite similar to "kiss", "chin". Ulala, Pudding, Jaguar and Evila say "chu', while Fuse says "shoot" or "chu".
In between these scenes, Ulala appears to be taunting the opponent (if the player gets all the moves correct) or have messed up the dance (if the player gets incorrect moves or misses a move). Ulala is given a certain number of hearts in case she misses a move or get an incorrect move. Performing a incorrect move will cause her to lose a heart. If she loses every one of her hearts she will then hunch over and become upset, with Fuse shouting at her.
Sequels and Re-releases
Space Channel 5 was followed by a direct sequel, Space Channel 5: Part 2, and then ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2002. In the US, the PlayStation 2 port was bundled with Part 2 in Space Channel 5: Special Edition, published by Agetec.
However, apart from a Game Boy Advance adaption, Space Channel 5: Ulala's Cosmic Attack, released in 2003, the game has yet to be re-released for newer systems. Part 2 was released as part of Dreamcast Collection in 2011 (before separate releases on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and Steam), but the original game has not received the same treatment, presumably due to its heavy reliance on pre-rendered video. Ulala has cameoed in a number of Sega games, however, and is playable in the likes of Sega Superstar Tennis and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
Producer: Tetsuya Mizuguchi
Trunpet: Isao Sakuma, Mitsukni Kohata, Naohito Watnabe, Masahero Kobayashi, Koichi Suzuki
Ken Woodman & His Piccadilly Brass (Woodman)
CG Movie Support Unit Trilogy
CG Movie Producer: Masaaki Taira
Saihi Information Service, Ltd.
Producer: Terumi Hamamoto, Makoto Baba
Image Studio 109
Manager: Yusuke Aoki, Yoshiya Nagata, Hiroyuki Ishiguro, Hiroyuki Motai
Manager: Toshio Shinma, Daiji Hori
Localization Team: Michael Hanna, Jake Kazdal, Koji Kuroki, Shinobu Shindo
Sega Of America
Localization Producer: Mari N. Schaal
Sega Europe Ltd.
Director Of Product Development: Naohiko Hoshino
Promotion Art Director: Masahiro "Magic" Kobyashi
PlayStation 2 Version