The Space Channel 5 series is a rhythm-based video game franchise developed by United Game Artists and published by Sega and Agetec for the Dreamcast. Unfortunately, the game was never truly successful after its launch on December 16, 1999. Nevertheless, that did not stop a sequel from being made then released on February 14, 2002, nor did that stop a couple of ports and a remake of the cheesy and light-hearted games. The series follows protagonist Ulala as she increases the ratings for the station Channel 5 through ‘Ulala’s Swingin’ Report Show’, dancing her way through danger as she inevitably saves the galaxy. So far only two entries in the series have been created and ported over the years.
Space Channel 5Edit
- Main article: Space Channel 5
Space Channel 5 was released on December 16, 1999 in Japan for the Dreamcast. Set 500 years in the future where space travel is now the norm, it’s apparently still difficult to maintain ratings for a television station. Channel 5, after years of broadcasting, has plummeted in the ratings, and if something isn’t done soon it will be permanently canceled. Enter Ulala, station director Fuse’s last hope of reviving the nearly dead Channel 5. He sends her out as the final resort to report on the invasion of an alien race called the Morolians. They have invaded Earth and are forcing people to dance with a specially made Dancing Beam, making anyone who is exposed to the rings of hypnotism long enough to begin doing so. The cause of the invasion is discovered and Channel 5 is eventually able to remain on the air. By strutting out to several key locations in her reports, Ulala is able to discover the real face behind the invasion, and with help from those she managed to rescue from horrible dancing, save the galaxy.
This first game is pretty simple when compared to Part 2. The player presses up, right, left, down, A, or B (or X and O on the PS2 version) to the rhythm of which the opponent gives. It’s basically Simon Says to the beat of the music played, though it can be pretty strict at times. Ratings are slow to rise and just getting one dance turn right won’t guarantee a percentage increase. Instead, the player must dance successfully and continuously for the ratings to go up and for Channel 5 to stay afloat. Ulala is given a set amount of hearts at the top of the screen for every set of opponents as well. Once they run out, it’s either game over or she fails to save a victim of the Morolian invasion.
Space Channel 5: Part 2Edit
- Main article: Space Channel 5: Part 2
The sequel, Space Channel 5: Part 2, was released on February 14, 2002 for both the Dreamcast and the Playstation 2 consoles. It starts off some time after former-CEO Blank resigns from Channel 5, being replaced by the one and only Space Michael Jackson. Ulala is back in action and her (assumingly) first report in her comeback deals with the mysterious dance troupe found onboard the Space Symphony: the Rhythm Rogues. It’s there that Ulala meets the ground leader Shadow and the silhouette of the troupe’s main leader, Purge. The Rhythm Rogues soon shock the whole galaxy by kidnapping Space President Peace at Space Park during a band festival. Space Channel 5 sets off to cover the incident and quickly find that Purge has something sinister up his sleeve for them. As if getting in trouble by the Space Police wasn’t enough, the satellite is taken from Channel 5 Headquarters and the resulting sing-off in the station’s Core makes Ulala’s co-worker Noize take over for Fuse for some time. Ulala’s team of Space Michael, Pudding, Hoorg, and Pine wind up tracking down the young genius' whereabouts. In a grand finale, Ulala is backed-up by those she saved in one final attempt to foil Purge’s fiendish plot.
Part 2 has made some major improvements since the original game. It’s still Simon Says going to the rhythm of whatever music being played, but it’s not as basic. Actions resembling real dance moves are used and someone like Fuse will occasionally get into a mini sing-off with someone on the opposing team. If the player presses ‘A’ or ‘X’ at the right moment, between one to four Morolians will pop out from the sides of the screen, giving the player a hidden Morolian point needed to attain 100% in a Report. Part 2 also introduces a two-player mode, multiple unlockable costumes, and ‘Ulala’s 100 Stage Dance Battle’ in which the player must go through 100 consecutive dance turns on one heart.
Ports and RemakeEdit
When the Dreamcast's life span ended in 2002 (2007 in Japan), chances of new generations of gamers enjoying the Space Channel 5 series decreased greatly. Through remakes and ports, though, the series lived on. With ports to the Playstation 2 and a remake on the Game Boy Advance, the franchise has been able to remain available to the next gen gamers.
- Space Channel 5 was ported over to the PS2 on March 15, 2002 in Europe and on December 12 of the same year in North America. Nothing really changed except for some dialogue pointing out which buttons to press. (Ex. 'A' button replaced with 'X' button.)
- Space Channel 5: Part 2 was released on the PS2 on the same day the Dreamcast version came out in Japan on February 14, 2002. Aside from the differences in buttons (ex. 'O' button instead of 'B' button), the only real change came when the PS2 version was translated into English. Any noticeable differences came in the form of Space Channel 5: Special Edition's second disc, such as the Agetec logo appearing upon start up and in the credits.
- Space Channel 5: Special Edition, only released in North America, was a port of both Space Channel 5 and Space Channel 5: Part 2 in one package deal. Released on November 18, 2003, it features some differences from the original games such as Ulala's Japanese voiceover being heard for the intro to Ulala's Swingin' Report Show in disc 1, and having all news flashes in lower case letters in disc 2.
- In 2011, a widescreen port of Part 2 was release for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Steam.
- Space Channel 5: Ulala's Cosmic Attack was a remake of the original Space Channel 5 brought over to the Game Boy Advance. On March 6, 2003 it was released in Europe and June 17 of the same year in the US. All the voice clips outside of dancing were removed, instead having news flashes showing what someone was saying. Unfortunately, the music suffered being transferred over though the graphics were good, considering the system.
Ulala's Channel JEdit
Ulala's Channel J was a cellphone game released on the Vodafone. It was an application with over half a dozen mini-games ranging from a game starring Xavier Gaboot to a mission to diffuse a bomb as Pine.
UCJ began in June of 2001 and ended sometime in 2005.
Future of the seriesEdit
According to Takashi Yuda in an interview for Eurogamer, there are some "higher-ups" who are interested in a return of Space Channel 5. However, "nothing has been decided." In another interview, game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi said that "he was interested in making a new Space Channel 5 game, for the motion-sensitive Wii console to boot." Although that does not confirm or deny anything for the outlook of Space Channel 5.
In May 2013, the official Space Channel 5 twitter account launched.
- ↑ GAMEs developed with help of iMageStudio
- ↑ "Sonic Riders 2 for PS3/X360, Space Channel 5 to return?". eurogamer.net. Retrieved 2010-6-25.
- ↑ "Tetsuya Mizuguchi interview: Thoughts on Lumines III, and Space Channel 5 for the Wii". QJ.net. Retrieved 2010-6-25.