This Mini-Review was previously posted as part of the article ‘Get Musically Active This Week With These Four VR Rhythm Games‘ in early-May 2020.
Space Channel 5 originated as a rhythm game on the Sega Dreamcast, and was a short but very addictive musical experience where you stepped into the shoes of journalist Ulala who reported on cases while dancing. It featured an unconventional narrative and a lot of absurdist elements. But it was a joy to play – especially the second game in the series which featured a much longer & creative storyline and a playable appearance by Michael Jackson in what was his final video game appearance.
Marking the game’s 20th Anniversary, SEGA enlisted the development team at Grouding Inc. to develop a new game in the series after more than a decade and several console generations off the market. This came in the form of Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash!, which takes the iconic gameplay mechanics and adds virtual reality to them.
This is a faithful instalment to the series, with controls of the original games translating well into the virtual reality space. Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash! is split out over four chapters/stages, which progressively gets more challenging as you work through it. Some of its challenges are sadly due to the vagueness of the tutorial, but it was nevertheless enjoyable exploring each new move as its thrown at you.
Although the English voice cast had to be recast, Cherami Leigh shines as the new voice of Ulala.
The main issue with this long-awaited sequel is that it just isn’t good value for money. You can easily complete the story in under an hour and the other game modes in just as long, so its regular price of $67.95 AUD is far too high. If you wait around for a sale bringing it down to half that price or less, then an argument could be made for a purchase, since this is otherwise an entertaining virtual reality rhythm game.
All this in mind, I hope this is not the end of the Space Channel series. I can see this as more a paid, playable tech demo a couple of years before a major release. At least this Space Channel 5 cadet thinks so!