Review: Space Station – Silicon Valley (N64)

By Drew Wilson

Space Station – Silicon Valley is an action/adventure game with an interesting twist. We take a look at this title and see if this is one of those games worth playing today.

Released in 1998, Space Station – Silicon Valley starts off with the premise of “Hero’s For Hire” Danger Dan and robotic sidekick Evo going to a space station in an effort to save the world. After comically approaching the station in space, the two lose control and crash land inside the station. In the midst of the crash, Evo loses his entire body and is reduced down to a simple walking microchip with eyes.

As the player, you control Evo. The main feature of the reduced state of Evo is the ability to take control of “deactivated” robotic animals that roam throughout the space station. At the start, you take control of the sheep.

Each animal you take over has two features that can be used via the “A” or “B” buttons respectively. In the case of the sheep, “A” allows the sheep to jump and float through the air. “B” makes the sheep go “Baaaa!” Other features of each animal tend to be passive, but present – typically revolving around how the animal can handle water or how it interacts with other animals.

The game is split up into four “zones”. Each zone has a series of levels. Each level, there are a series of objectives the player must complete before a teleporter can be activated, allowing the player to exit the level. Some of these objectives makes sense given the environment, but others are simply bizarre undertakings. Optionally, the player also collect those 12 purple mechanical orbs which can be a challenge to collect at times. Another item the player can collect is a trophy for completing an unmentioned objective. For instance, destroying all the sheep in level 1, area 1 via the rocket booster will make a trophy appear. The methods of obtaining the trophy changes from level to level and can be really hard to figure out what one must do to collect the souvenir trophy. Infamously, the trophy in Fat Bear Mountain simply cannot be collected due to a manufacturing defect that causes the player to simply pass through it, so it is impossible to collect every trophy due to a bug in the game.

One positive attribute of this game is that it offers a unique twist in the adventure genre. Rather than follow along with the formula of collecting 100 of something and collecting keys or special items in each world, it went on to do something different where you simply took control of various enemies and used them to fight other enemies as the player makes their way through the various environments. I thought this element was quite refreshing and different.

Another positive attribute is the number of different animals one could take control of. Not only were there numerous animals to master, but each environment also had its own set of animals such as the Racing Fox in the first environment, the King Penguin in the second environment, the lion in third environment and the boxing kangaroo in the fourth environment. While this added a great dimension to the gameplay, I found it to also be a bit of a pitfall as well. For some animals, such as the sheep, one could spend several levels mastering what that animal had to offer. In other instances, you only got to take control of the animal once in the entire game before you moved on (such as the flying dog and the lion). You might be able to gain some experience playing around with the animal, but then you beat the level, making it only a passing experience. I thought that it was a bit disappointing and I was left to wonder if that animal even really needed to be in the game or if there simply wasn’t enough levels to really fully explore the strengths and weaknesses of each animal that was put into the game.

It was because of this, I felt that there was so much ground to cover in such a short time period as far as the game was concerned. I had no problem completing zone 1 and looked forward to zone 2. By the time I got part way through zone 2, the constant task of learning something new got to be more of a chore than fun. By the time I made it to zone 3, I wasn’t really in the mood to play this game any more. Of course, being the persistent individual that I am, I plowed through zone 3 anyway and played through to zone 4. Zone 4 was somewhat difficult, but decent again. After playing through that, I made it to the final stage where I was able to Control Evo. The last level was interesting, but really broke away from the rest of the game. I have yet to decide if this was a positive element thrown in or a negative one. It’s positive in that it does a decent job of maintaining the story-line, but all that work of learning the various animals was sort of all for not as you end up learning how the re-assembled Evo moves around in the environment – even if Evo is the best thing to control in the entire game.

I thought the graphics was decent enough. The cartoon feel of it really went well with the wacky tone that permeates throughout the game (just read the text at the beginning of each level to see how wacky and amusing the game can be!). In a way, it has that Warner Brothers cartoon feel to it with all the strange angles certain objects have, but stylistically, it is distinct with the chrome objects as well. Perhaps the only complaint I have is that there really wasn’t a whole lot in the way of effects. There’s the poofy clouds, the splashing water, the small explosions, the electronic shorting and the sparkle of the trophies, but, beyond that, special effects were a little scant throughout the game. More effects could have helped in this category.

The music is interesting. Throughout the game, there’s that jazzy style music heard throughout the game. It isn’t your typical music for a game like this, but I thought the pleasantness in the music was nice. So, musical style choice was quite creative. The sound effects chosen, I thought, worked well for the game.

Overall, this game has a certain charm to it that makes giving the game a try worth it. However, I wouldn’t expect most players making it through the whole game without finding the game a little dry at times. The comedy style worked well for the game and it certainly offers a unique experience for the player. So, worth trying out. I thought the beginning 2 zones made the experience worth it. I had no problem replaying the first two sets of levels over and over again.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Beat the game and used cheat codes to access the bonus level. (the only way one can actually access it, really)

General gameplay: 16/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 68%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.