Probably the pinpoint space-time coordinates Tetsuya Mizuguchi went from accomplished racing game producer to avant-garde music entertainment weirdo. Space Channel 5 is a rhythm action game that doesn’t rely on a novelty controller – a novelty in itself – and with no display to help you gauge the timing it’s not as accessible as it could be.
With enough practice you’ll get into the swing of things and soon be grooving, shooting and saving hostages with the power of dance. Michael Jackson liked it so much he put in an appearance, and Ulala became the premier 60s-styled Sega sex symbol. In fact, Ulala’s appearance was so eye-catching the lead singer from Dee-Lite (of Groove is in the Heart fame) tried to sue Sega for stealing her look. She was unsuccessful.
Full of catchy music and nice touches – the music detunes if you’re bad – Space Channel 5, and its sequel Part 2, are two of the most inventive entries in the dance genre. Dripping with style and confidence, it shows Sega’s willingness to break conventions – it could so easily have become another anodyne dance mat game, but instead it’s about character and panache, two of Ulala’s best traits.
Ulala’s recent reappearance in Sega Superstars Tennis confirms reports she’s still defending us from the Morollians, so I hope you’ll sleep a little more soundly tonight.