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It's great. And it reminds me why I loved the Dreamcast so much. And hats off to Sega and UGA. They could have made some abomination of the original game and threw it out on shelves. Instead, they made an effort to bring as much of it as they could over to the GBA, and they did one heck of a good job. If you've played Space Channel 5, then you know what to expect with this. If you haven't, or never got a Dreamcast, this is your chance to see why I loved it so much. Great job guys.
Space Channel 5 is better than it has any right to be, but cooler than it should have been isn't quite enough to recommend a purchase especially given that the game is also really short and super-easy. Mini-Ulala works mostly as a neato novelty act.
The needlessly difficult gameplay requirements imposed on the Game Boy Advance port of Space Channel 5, coupled with its somewhat underwhelming presentation make this a game for hardcore fans only.
Digital Entertainment News (den)
What made the Dreamcast version such a winner was its rampant and wacky presentation of an inherently silly game concept, a presentation that does not translate well to Nintendo’s handheld platform. Gameplay, music and, to a lesser extent, graphics get respectable approximations here, but it’s not enough. The end product is a decent but hollow port of a game that completely relied on style and pizzazz. Alas, the GBA simply isn’t capable of doing something like Space Channel 5 justice. If any other music/rhythm games show up on the system, they’ll undoubtedly suffer from the same problems.
Game Over Online
The good news is, it doesn't take great graphics to do a rhythm game. I had tons of fun playing Dance Dance Revolution in practice mode and there wasn't much on screen other than great music and flashing arrows. Somehow, the sheer difficulty level has made the basic concept of Space Channel 5 frustrating. It's a pity that the other deficiencies then rear their heads because the core game is not solid enough. They ultimately make Space Channel 5 one of those stations you cruise by with your remote.
Ulala's Cosmic Attack is really short and there's not a lot of reward for completion, but somehow it manages to endear itself to you just like the Dreamcast original. Ulala is a wonderful character and her opponents the Morolians as well as rival reporters Jaguar and Pudding have similarly superb design. It's one of those games that just kind of yells at the top of its lungs that "THIS IS FUN!" and you roll with it and play again and again. That's especially true of this GBA effort even though the graphics are nothing to shout about and the animation is sometimes pretty poor. Even a nasty bug that screws up all the controls may not be enough to put you off the game entirely. (If the controls stop responding during gameplay right after you've turned on the GBA, just go to the options and reset the default button configuration.) There's just something about pushing buttons to music that's tough to put down.
Space Channel 5 poses a challenge, sure, but it just doesn't seem worth it on the Game Boy Advance. The original Dreamcast game was good (but admittedly not "AWESOME!!!" like our Dreamcast editors rated it back in the day), and this GBA port just feels thrown together; the gameplay's there, sure, but Space Channel 5 was also about style and presentation...something that just didn't come through in the portable rendition.
It's rare that a GBA game breaks from a familiar and friendly genre. It's a world of licensed racers, platformers, and collection games governed by the likes of Mary-Kate and Ashley, Mickey, Goofy, and Yu-Gi-Oh!, Space Channel 5: Ulala's Cosmic Attack could have broken away and stood out. A minimal amount of tweaking and balancing would have made this a must-have game.
Ultimately, the frustrating controls ruin what could have otherwise been a standout conversion of one of the Dreamcast's more unique games. Any chance to enjoy the action occurring onscreen is swept away by the inability to get a fair shake from the computer.