Are you itching for another Space Channel 5 adventure like I am? Your yearning for Sega’s long-lost rhythm game series to make a grand return might just sync up with your excitement for this week’s Space Channel 5 VR Kinda Funky News Flash on PlayStation VR. At its core, it’s a simple and quick dance game, but the chance to step into its iconic world is a dream come true for fans.
Twenty years back, when Sega introduced Space Channel 5 for the Dreamcast, they were at the peak of their creative game. Space Channel 5, a rhythm game following the escapades of a futuristic news reporter, clad in vinyl, whose on-screen appearances were punctuated by infectious dance moves, slotted seamlessly into the console’s eclectic lineup alongside gems like Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, and Samba De Amigo. While Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who later created Rez (including a VR version), led the Dreamcast game’s development, Kinda Funky News Flash had a different team at the helm.
Rather than rehashing the original, the creators of Kinda Funky News Flash spin a fresh tale, once again pitting heroine Ulala against alien foes in electrifying dance-offs. The key twist in this new iteration is the shift from using the Dreamcast controller’s directional inputs to maneuvering dance moves with a pair of PlayStation Move controllers, transforming Space Channel 5 VR into more of a dance extravaganza than a rigid beat-matching affair.
One standout design choice is that you don’t assume Ulala’s role; instead, you step into the shoes of a rookie reporter positioned behind and to the right of Ulala herself. This arrangement ensures that the iconic news anchor becomes an integral part of the scene, avoiding any awkward detachment. It is a the best VR games for many dance enthusiasts.
Moreover, you get to observe Ulala’s dance moves, which proves helpful if you’re new to the call-and-response gameplay of the Space Channel 5 series. The aliens kick off a series of dance steps, mostly involving arm movements in the four cardinal directions, and your task is to replicate their moves. Make four consecutive errors, and it’s game over.
In addition to the classic up, down, left, right, and “chu” (arms in front), you’ll frequently encounter “pose.” It’s not about striking a specific pose but rather about mimicking your opponent’s positioning. Occasionally, you’ll need to dodge their attacks by swaying your body left and right.
Initially, I approached Kinda Funky News Flash as a precision-timed beat-matching game, snapping my arms into the prescribed poses in sync with the beat. To my surprise, this approach got me through all four levels, though I often missed beats I thought I had nailed perfectly. As it turns out, I had it all wrong. The game appears to verify if the PlayStation Move controller’s luminous orbs are correctly positioned at the right moment in the song. So, when they call out “Chu, chu, chu!” and Ulala throws her hands in front of her three times consecutively, you can simply maintain that position to score all three hits.
Unfortunately, the tutorial doesn’t shed light on this aspect or clarify the purpose of the “secrets” scattered throughout each level. These secrets manifest as circular patterns at various points during the levels, and your task is to reach out and touch them with your hand. I initially mistook them for odd loading icons and, curiously enough, began to disregard them as my focus honed in on the rest of the action. I only grasped their significance as the game approached its conclusion.
The game’s brevity echoes the original Space Channel 5 experience. You can breeze through Kinda Funky News Flash in under an hour if you successfully navigate all four levels. The interactive and enjoyable ending sequence adds a touch more substance to the experience, bringing it to a total of four and a half levels. Nevertheless, it remains quite short overall.
Once you wrap things up, there’s not much left on the plate. You can replay levels to achieve 100 percent completion, but unlike the original game, Kinda Funky doesn’t present tougher or more intricate versions of those levels for your second playthrough. There’s a mode that lets you tackle 100 levels consecutively, each featuring increasingly complex dance moves, but it mainly involves hanging out in a single virtual area and can become somewhat repetitive.
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