Platform: PlayStation 2
Review Date: 5/15/10
With the unfortunate demise of the Dreamcast, Sega's wacky "Space Channel 5 Part 2" was never released in the US. A couple of years later, "Space Channel 5: Special Edition" was released for the PlayStation 2, which included ports of both the original and Part 2. Part 2 expands and improves the gameplay quite a bit, with a 2-player mode, a dance challenge mode, and forty costumes that can be unlocked. This time around, Space President Peace has been kidnapped by an evil dancer named Purge, and mayhem is breaking out across the galaxy. It's up to Ulala and her friends to rescue the president and set everything right. Space Michael returns and plays a much larger role this time around, which is quite amusing.
The gameplay enhancements are a mixed bag. The control lag issue from the first game has been fixed, which makes the game feel much more responsive. The game adds new commands to Ulala's arsenal, with press-and-hold commands, musical instruments, song lyrics, and additional verbal commands (like "Honda" and "Toyota"). While the commands are easier to input than the original game, the overall game difficulty is much harder. There are times when you have to memorize up to 15 moves, which is pretty much impossible. The song lyrics add additional complexity, which is made worse by awkward localization issues. They're distracting more than anything else. Another issue that adds to the difficulty is that some of the audio and visual cues are simply indecipherable, so you have no clue what to do. Unfortunately, the increased difficulty makes the game less fun than it should be.
The presentation is also a mixed bag. Everything looks better and is more detailed and polished, but the art direction lacks the shear silliness of the original. Ulala's character model has been cleaned up quite a bit and she looks great, but her animations also lack the wacky sensibilities of the original. Apollo Smile once again lends her voice to Ulala, but her performance is rather flat and is missing the exuberant funkiness that made her so endearing in the original game. Perhaps this is the result of Ulala being a more mature and experienced reporter this time around. Ulala's friends and background dancers aren't nearly as campy either, and the tone of the game lacks a certain amount of playful goofiness. That's not to say that the game isn't fun, because it is. It just seems that the style has been watered down to be more mainstream, while the gameplay has been tuned towards more hardcore gamers. Overall, if you liked "Space Channel 5," it's hard to go wrong with adding Part 2 to your collection.