REVIEW: Space Channel 5: Ulala’s Cosmic Attack


There are actually three Space Channel 5 games.  There’s the original, and Part 2, which both came out on Dreamcast and were later ported to Playstation 2.  And then there’s the GBA port of the first one, which is what I’m going to talk about today.  Actually, it’s exactly like the first one, so there aren’t really three games.  Only 2.

I’m going to stand up for this game, which came out at a time when not a lot of people had Dreamcasts (I didn’t, at least), and everyone had a GBA.  You may think that a GBA port of Space Channel 5 would be inevitably terrible.  This seems to be a popular opinion, but I don’t think those people played it for the 30 minutes it takes to beat Space Channel 5, and after reading one negative review too many, I decided to vent in my blog, like anyone would.

This is about as perfectly as you can port any Dreamcast game to GBA. I’ve heard people criticize the fact that the cutscenes are gone and that the characters are now sprites instead of 3D models… well, guess what? You’re playing a Gameboy Advance. In fact, everything from the first game is intact. The cutscenes are handled with a series of stills and occasional animation, which actually works pretty well. The worst thing I can think of to say about the change is that the colors aren’t as vibrant and it’s not as good-looking as it was on Dreamcast, but again… GBA. Most, if not all, of the voice clips are intact and exactly the same as they were in the Dreamcast original (including Space Michael). Just as many people follow you after each segment as they do in the original, too, which is a strange criticism to level at it. Having played the GBA version first and hearing that, I imagined hordes of people following you on the Dreamcast, which is just not the case.

All the same scenarios are in the GBA version, with the same patterns. Every enemy is defeated with the exact same pattern and timing, and all the bosses, stages, and levels are there. Same plot, same songs, same everything. Yes, the songs are the same. Of course they lack some of the depth that they had in the Dreamcast version, but again… GBA. They actually sound more or less the same to me, but I’m not a big sound geek.

I guess the only difference is that, if you bought the Dreamcast version when it first came out, you were spending all that money on a console game that could be cleared in 20 minutes, whereas you spent less and got a perfect GBA game to play over and over if you opted for the port. I played this game several times every day after school for 6 months because I liked it so much. I literally beat it with my eyes closed. I was actually disappointed with the Dreamcast version when I played it, because for some reason the timing felt off, and again, I was expecting more of a game for the console version.

In short: The GBA version of this game is worth having. Yes, the graphics have been downgraded for the handheld, but they did a pretty good job at keeping absolutely everything in the game, and it’s one of the best console-to-handheld ports I’ve ever seen. So there.

gba_spacechannel5_screen002 gba_spacechannel5_screen005

(once again, I’m sorry for the Gamespot images, they’re the best I can do.  Also, these don’t look nearly this bad on a GBA, they’re just blown up big here)


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