Title: Space Channel 5 VR
Release Date: February 26, 2020
Reviewed On: PSVR
The Space Channel 5 series has had an interesting existence, but I was beyond excited to hear that it would receive a new entry with Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash!. Joining Ulala once again on an otherworldly adventure has been something that I’ve been looking forward to for years. Strangely, the developer has chosen to release this new entry as a VR exclusive. While I was hesitant at first to jump into this unique experience, I quickly discovered that this series is a great fit for VR.
Space Channel 5 VR has players take on the role of the newest member of the Space Channel 5 crew. During orientation, an alien invasion begins. It’s up to you and Ulala to save the galaxy and dance your ass off. Sure, this game isn’t massive on the plot, but it makes up for that with style. Everything fans remember about the series has returned, and it looks better than ever.
The story itself can be completed within an hour, which is about the same as the original game. As the story progresses, an antagonist is revealed, and the player will need to step up to the stage to assist Ulala with everything they’ve got. It’s pretty much just an adorable and straight forward narrative that will keep you grooving in VR for a bit.
I can’t really say anything bad about the VR experience itself since the game’s controls were responsive to my movements. I know when I screwed up, and I never felt cheated if I missed a pose. However, given that this has to be done with real movements, the game never really increases in speed or difficulty. On the other hand, you’ll appreciate that once your heart rate is up and your arms are sore from all the sweet poses.
Other modes outside of Story Mode allows players to view performances, take on trial, and dance in arcade mode, so it’s possible to continue to play after the conclusion if that’s what you want to do. The game also contains a calorie counter option that tells you how many calories you’ve burned while shaking your ass, which I thought was a nice touch.
Throughout the game, players can also unlock costumes for Ulala to wear during the various modes. Secrets can be discovered during gameplay, which gives players areas to touch to unlock more costumes. The costumes themselves are color variations and retro apparel that fans will remember.
Where Space Channel 5 VR falls short is how much a product of its time it is. This is simply more Space Channel 5, which might make it difficult for newcomers to wrap their heads around its appeal. As charming as it is, this is a tough sell for those who don’t already have an idea of the series, which ends up hurting it. After playing for 2 – 3 hours, you’ve probably seen everything this game has to offer, and then your left trying to explain to those around you why it’s so awesome, but that’s not easy to convey. Graphically, the game pretty much retains its polygon-like characters and bright visuals. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as it absolutely matches the tone of the game and the animations have been wildly improved compared to early entries.
Space Channel 5 VR keeps the quirky tunes funky throughout each dance, and you’d be hardpressed not to be moving and grooving each time you jump in. They nailed the composition of these tracks, from the upbeat tones to the lyrics, I loved it all. I found that I kept going back to the game to listen to the music, even though I told people that it was because I wanted to hang out with Ulala to sound cool. What’s important here is that if you loved the series for its obscurity, you’d find all of that here, for better or for worse.
Space Channel 5 VR does a great job of bringing the series to virtual reality, but other than that, it doesn’t do much to set itself apart from its predecessors. The story is concise, and the fun dances within the trial mode are pretty much the saving grace of the title in terms of “content” offered. Still, it’s a damn good time.
For the price of the game, you’re paying for the nostalgic nature of it all, and you won’t be disappointed. Those new to the series might not understand anything that’s going on, but here’s to hoping this marks a new future for Ulala because we’d love to spend more time with her.
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