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Space Station Silicon Valley

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Reviewed by Scott McCall It figures a game like Space Station Silicon Valley could only have come from Scotland and from DMA Design. When was the last time a video game made you laugh -- more than once? Space Station Silicon Valley is just what the doctor ordered with absolutely hilarious situations littered throughout. But it has also got solid, original gameplay. Don't let the sleeper game of the year pass you by. Just from watching the game's real-time story introduction, you know you're not playing the typical game. The story revolves around a Space Station, Silicon Valley, that was launched in 2001. But somehow it vanished exactly seven minutes after it was launched. It was never found, but mysteriously showed up 1000 years later. So the government tried sending Space Marines to retrieve it, but they never came back. Now it's up to expendable Dan Danger, a bald, overweight superhero who likes to dance, and Evo, a super-intelligent robot, to save it. But their ship crashes into the Space Station, reducing Evo to a little chip. The only way for Evo to survive and escape is to take control of the animals roaming around -- all while Dan Danger provides instructions from the ship. Space Station Silicon Valley consists of 30-odd some levels that require you to complete objectives in and 40-plus animals you can take control of. Each level is like a miniature controlled environment that is about the size of a level in Super Mario 64. Fortunately, the objectives actually have some substance rather than just collecting so much of a certain item (although that's a non-required, secondary objective). Just to give you a few examples, here's what you'll be doing in some of the levels. One level requires you, as a dog, to get four sheep into an electric pen. Another level has you defeating enemies with snowballs. Yet another level makes swim in a swamp of poop. Yes, I mean that. There's usually a minimum of two objectives on a level, although many will have three, four, or more objectives. The objectives usually require figuring out perplexing puzzles and using the correct animal for the job. You can view the objectives at any time from the pause screen, and it plainly tells you when you accomplished the task. Controlling the mechanical animals in Space Station Silicon Valley varies from one to another. One animal might be able to jump with the A button while another might use a turbo boost. Some animals can attack with the B button while others might only be able to make a sound. There are also many other attributes for the animals, such as their swimming ability, ability to take a fall, defensive ability, intelligence, and so on. Obviously, the Control Stick is used to move around in the 3D levels. There are also standard camera controls with the C group, the Z button for a first-person view, and the R button to jump in and out of an animal. So that means only the A and B buttons vary, which makes for easy control. Space Station Silicon Valley is a little more impressive graphically than one might imagine. First off, the camera is set so it always follows directly behind you, unlike most other 3D games. It works most of the time, but the constant automatic rotation can be disorienting. The actual levels are divided into four themes (Euro Eden, Arctic Kingdom, Jungle Safari, Desert Adventure) with slight variations. They look colorful, fairly detailed, sharp, and crystal clear, plus they ooze personality. Another good thing is the lack of pop-up, clipping, and fog. However, there's not much going on in the way of special effects or animation. The sound in Space Station Silicon Valley matches the comical nature of the game. There are Banjo-Kazooie-like sound effects for the characters' dialogue, there are realistic sounds for the animals, and there's elevator music being pumped through the Station's speakers. The stereo music gets louder as you get closer to one of the speakers in each level and softer as you move away. A nice touch. The light music is the stereotypical soundtrack you should be expecting, but it's a nice change of pace from the usual techno fare. OK, it's not really that nice, but the sound effects are dead-on. Is there something in the air in Scotland? Do the developers go to bed every night dreaming about sheep? Who knows. Whatever DMA Design does to come up with highly creative, highly original, and highly addicting games works to perfection. There is just nothing in the world quite like Space Station Silicon Valley. The mix of twisted humor, puzzle elements, and 3D platforming is a recipe for success. Space Station Silicon Valley deserves to be in every gamer's library who also owns Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. N64 owners should be proud to have this game exclusive to their system.

Graphics: 4.0 out of 5 Sound: 3.8 out of 5 Control: 4.3 out of 5 Gameplay: 4.6 out of 5 Lastability: 3.5 out of 5 Overall: 4.3 out of 5

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