Games media is still a little green at describing and rating VR games. We try to evaluate these fairly new experiences according to now immersive they are, how effectively they draw us into their virtual worlds, and what have you.
Going hands-on with Space Channel 5 VR (which carries the amazing subtitle "Kinda Funky News Flash") at PAX East gave me a new measurement tool: I've decided the best VR games draw you in so completely, you absolutely forget your meat copy is flailing in real-space like a dork. I don't care how stupid or clumsy I look while playing Space Channel 5 VR. I have a world to save, dammit. People are dancing out here. It's chaos. Ulala believes in me and my funky moves, and that's all that matters.
Space Channel 5's bizarre pastel-neon world surrounds you as soon as you slip on the PlayStation VR helmet. Aliens are forcing people to dance, and as Ulala's new apprentice, you must help her zap the threat by parroting the enemies' movements, Simon-style. If you're already a fan of Space Channel 5, then you already know this song. You move up, down, left, and right to muster the energy to send your foes flying back to outer space—but in Space Channel 5 VR, you actually move your full body to the beat. I got quite a bit of a workout by the end of my session, but then again, I'm as fit as bottle of marshmallow fluff.
When Space Channel 5 VR got me started with a short training mission that shows you the ropes, I felt that initial stab of self-consciousness that (I assume) afflicts everyone trying to sync up their quick-moving digital avatar with their real-world movements. Once the demo started in earnest and Ulala instructed me in her friendly, brisk way to get my head out of my ass, I was all-in. Up! Left! Right! Pew pew pew!
I was sad when my session was over, but I scored an 88% rating. By the end, I didn't care if anyone laughed at my doughy, noodly limbs flapping around like banners for history's saddest army. These doughy limbs fired off energy beams that freed dozens of hostages. It was all a very silly, very good time, and I enjoyed being under Ulala's employ. I think we make a good team.
I'm admittedly not sure how well Space Channel 5 will work as a full experience. I suppose it all depends on how much energy you have to spare on getting down and funky for minutes at a time while wearing the PlayStation VR visor. Well, nobody ever said committing murder via the art of dancing is supposed to be easy.
Look for Space Channel 5 VR: Kinda Funky News Flash on the PlayStation 4 later this year.
Disclosure: PAX East is run by ReedPOP, which owns USG.