top of page

Space Channel 5 Dreamcast, when Ulala performed with prototypes including an Alpha version

A veritable extraterrestrial in the world of console video games, Space Channel 5 was first released on Dreamcast in 1999/2000. The game's curvaceous heroine, the beautiful and sublime Ulala, subsequently appeared on cell phones, before finally invading the Playstation 2.

Developed over a period of two years by the United Game Artists studio, also known for other landmark Dreamcast titles such as Rez, and directed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Space Channel 5 was designed by a team of 27 people. Released in December 1999 in Japan, the game featured a young journalist caught up in an invasion from outer space. With the joystick in hand, the player had to demonstrate his rhythmic talents to enable Ulala to thwart the Morolians' kidnapping plans, by reproducing their crazy dance moves exactly. To do this, the player had to memorize all the sounds so as to be able to reproduce them with the Pad in the right order and to the same rhythm.

Space Channel 5 Dreamcast Logo.jpg

It was during a board meeting that Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the man behind the famous SEGA Rally, Manx TT Superbike and SEGA Touring Car, received a special request. To establish the Dreamcast on the market, SEGA needed a game library that could be adapted to every type of audience, starting with women. Management's ambition was to conquer this new audience. They asked him to think up a game that would meet this need. He had been waiting for such an opportunity to embark on a new project other than a car simulation, as he wanted to move away from the racing games that that made him a household name during the Saturn era.

The enchanting candy-pink heroine, Ulala, had to traverse four levels spread across the galaxy. Along the way, she was subjected to several dance tests, divided into two distinct modes. First, she had to reproduce the movements of the aliens. This allowed her to rescue personalities forced to move their bodies. Only in this event could the player lose. The other part consisted of a series of shots, the aim of which was to disintegrate the aliens and save the humans. At the end of each stage, a boss stood in the way, each excelling in a particular dance style.

Artist Yumiko Miyabe's conception of Ulala took 6 months (the endless creative loop of testing and discarding ideas) until she came up with a charismatic character with a strong 1960s feel, largely inspired by the film Barbarella starring Jane Fonda. The main protagonist, with her orange outfit in reference to the Dreamcast's Japanese spiral, was remodeled many times to appeal to both male and female audiences. She quickly became popular with gamers thanks to her advantageous physique and funky character. Inspiration for the Space Channel 5 universe came from sources such as Star Wars, Monty Python, Doraemon...

Based on 'Mexican Flyer', a jazz tune by Ken Woodman, Naofumi Hataya and Kenichi Tokoi, two members of SEGA's music label WaveMaster, composed the out-of-the-ordinary musical themes for Space Channel 5. The music was a mix between the jazzy tones of the 50s and 60s and the electro sounds of the early 2000s.

For Space Channel 5, all movements were captured using motion capture. What's more, all the dances were specially created by a professional Japanese choreographer to be as original as possible.

Michael Jackson was present in the game, and Ulala met his virtual counterpart, called Space Michael for the occasion. He was hypnotized by the aliens. According to his character profile, he had saved the world 500 years ago by dancing - a nod to the King of Pop, who was eager to appear in Space Channel 5. The American singer-songwriter discovered the game during a visit to SEGA. Enthralled by the concept, he asked how he could integrate Space Channel 5. While the idea appealed to Mizuguchi, time was short, as the game was nearing the end of its development process. The solution was to make him appear as a cameo in the game. It took only a fortnight for the title's programmers to grant his wish. He would be more actively involved in the second installment, Space Channel 5: Part 2. Michael Jackson had also recorded voice commands that were ultimately not used in SC 5; they were discovered in a European prototype of the game dated April 20, 2000.

European pre-release cover (disc première press kit)

Space Channel 5 unused Cover

Tetsuya Mizuguchi back in the day

Tetsuya Mizuguchi Space Channel 5
Space Channel 5 Artwork
Concep Space channel 5
Space Channel 5 Sketche

In 2003, vocalist Kierin Magenta Kirby, better known by her stage name Lady Miss Kier, accused SEGA of using her appearance and image in the game, which SEGA denied. According to Kirby, the Japanese company had offered her a certain sum of money in 2000 to obtain the rights to use her name, her looks and even her songs, an offer she had refused. SEGA allegedly ignored her refusal and illegally appropriated her image. During the ensuing trial, the company with the blue hedgehog managed to convince the court that not only had the company created Space Channel 5 before 2000, but that the game had been released in Japan in 1999, a year before the singer's accusations. The SC 5 developers had never even heard of this artist before creating the Ulala character. The case came to an end in 2006, after Kirby tried to appeal, but the California Court of Appeals upheld the first decision. In the end, the poor woman had to pay SEGA of America's legal fees, amounting to several hundred thousand dollars.

Space Channel 5 remains a crazy dance game with a crazy atmosphere, shimmering colors and surprising music. To try it is to adopt it!

The discovery of this Space Channel 5 Dreamcast (SC5) prototype, in Alpha, is a nice find. By analyzing its contents, extracting the data using the GD-R Explorer tool and basing this on the date of the last file modification, the build was created on September 20, 1999 at 21:35:41. This date is unreliable, however, as the final version has the same datation. Fortunately, the true date of the build, August 11, 1999, and its version number (0.60) are displayed on the title screen. File timestamps on disc are falsified. The correct date for this beta can also be found in IP.BIN (file that launches a Dreamcast game). This Japanese prototype of Space Channel 5 would have been burned about 4 months before the final Japanese version, on November 28, 1999.

Date and version of build with level selector


Contents of the "Single Density" zone in the prototype


Debug Menu Nindows (ADX)


Debug Menu Nindows (Disp level Edit)


Grandia 2 prototype video

Surprisingly, the "Single Density" area contains several files (1ST_READ.MAP, ROUND.ELF, etc.) that shouldn't be there, files that will be deleted later. It is important to note that a Dreamcast GD-Rom is divided into 2 parts, the "Single Density" which behaves like a normal CD-Rom (music, for PC, etc.) and the "High Density" which is specific to Dreamcast games. For fans of Reverse Engineering, this new data is like a key to open the game code through the debugging symbols, including additional information on activating exclusive debugging modes. In a similar fashion, the “single density” area of one of the Toy Racer prototypes contained the data for the game’s online server

The prototype is structured in several files, including the ".SAN" files, which are in fact ".YUV" images. These had to be extracted and converted to the correct format (.BMP) in order to control them. All SC5 versions contain different images. Each .SAN is different from one version to the next because the videos have been re-rendered, with details added. The .SAN files are used to pause the scene video instead of looping the same video frame. It's a bit like a screenshot used as a background image. The most curious part is in Taikeban version of SC5, where we find hidden photos of a (very likely) mocap dancer.

The different rendering details of Space Channel 5 between the different versions (Japanese Alpha version, European prototype and the Taikeban demo:

Space Channel 5 SAN_output_YUV_BMP


The prototype has additional rendering details (from the file to download above) compared with the other versions. It also lacks some. There are also some differences in the model and animation files.

Debug Menu Nindows



Unlike the US version, all Japanese versions of SC5 have a "common" voice container called "SH_1.mlt". In this particular build, the stage-specific voices "r1-r4.mlt" have not yet been added, so there are no voices for non-player characters apart from the common voices in "SH_1.mlt".

As with Panzer Dragoon Saga, developed years earlier on Saturn by members of United Game Artists, Space Channel 5 checks if a specific savefile (SPACECH5_DBG) is present on the memory card, before activating the debugging options.  This is supposed to print debugging info about the backup data, but it seems incomplete in order to rewrite the code and see what it's really about. (to be confirmed).

When a player tries to load a game without VMUs connected, they can access the "Load" menu, which is normally impossible. Strangely enough, four pre-saved files are included in the build. However, it is not possible to load them. This could simply be an unimplemented feature (for debugging, testing or specific event logging purposes), or a debugging printout in the console. We don’t currently know if that data was supposed to be compiled as it is present in the main loop.


This Japanese prototype of SC5 has the same development options and the same Nindows Debug Menu as the European build of April 20, 2000, with few differences. The version number and prototype date, not to mention the level selector, appear this time on the title screen rather than on the game's main menu. This time, the Keyboard is to be plugged into the console's port B. Development options and the Nindows Debug Menu are explained in detail on the page: In the bowels of a Space Channel prototype with a Nindows Debug Menu

Update: A new development option was discovered during analysis of the Japanese prototype. It has not been tested on the European build. By pressing "X" and "Y" at the same time during a Cutscene, a timer appears in the top left-hand corner of the screen. The timer, for example, was probably used to know when to change camera shots.

Comparisons were made between the PAL, Alpha and Japanese versions of the game.

Before getting to the heart of the matter and presenting the prototype's particularities in detail, I'd like to thank VincenNL for the Reverse Engineering work carried out on this Alpha version, Egregiousguy for extracting the .SAN files, and PassionWagon for its help in documenting the build.


An Alpha Prototype is a first build of the game with a progression in its development, making it playable in most cases, even in a summary way. If this development phase is mentioned on the disc, the contents of the build appear to be far more advanced than other games in Alpha format referenced.

This version of Space Channel 5 Dreamcast is playable from A to Z, and performance is good without regular crashes, and bugs are not common. The developers at United Game Artists were mainly in the process of setting up the audio part of the title and fine-tuning its graphics.


The musical part of the build is not quite up to scratch. The soundtrack is not included in cutscenes such as the introduction to the title screen or the opening sequence of Space Channel 5. In the menus, the absence of background music is noticeable.

The sound effects used to navigate the menus, to activate or select an option, have an unusual tone or sound.

Morolians voice lines are used by everyone except the heroine Ulala. Pudding and the other human rivals have Morolians voices instead of their own.

While people are being rescued, in-game, the audio clips applied by the developers are placeholders.

No VMU is connected

Alpha Prototype Space Channel 5 Dreamcast.jpg

There is no audio commentary from Fuse once rescued. He normally utters "Okay! Cut!" fter being successfully rescued by Ulala.

The menus

The copyright, on the title screen, "© SEGA ENTERPRISES. LTD. 1999" is set lower than in the final version.

Another phrase or group of words, in Japanese, is written on the background of the "Tutorial" screen.

The "Device Option" menu in blue

The background of "Device Options" is blue, not black.

In the 'Sound Option' submenu, the background should be green instead of blue. This sub-menu contains 6 additional options compared with other, more recent versions of SC5. Unfortunately, it is not possible to modify or interact with the selected option.



Final version


As with previous windows, the "Players Status" sub-menu is unlike any other. No interactivity is possible with this one, and it doesn't offer the possibility of navigating from left to right check the best records for a given level (report 1 to 4). This screen has erroneous translations.


No interactivity in "Player Status"


The "Character Profile" screen is not finished. It is almost empty. The symbol indicating that the player has not unlocked a character is different.

In game

As the save system is not implemented, it is impossible to save your game.

During an Ulala dance, the pixelized pattern displayed on the memory card doesn't seem to match that of the final version of Space Channel 5.

Menu "Character Profile "unfinished

Information that appears in a pink box on the screen during a game, on certain occasions, is written in a smaller font. Some information messages use a heart-shaped symbol rather than the usual square shape.

The player interface, at the bottom of the screen, is larger. In certain phases of the game, it displays a heart counter in the top left-hand corner. The prototype mentions two indicators, "Nice II" and "Bad II", with 10 heart images next to the first and 3 to the right of the second. This is a particularity of the build, since in the final version only 4 hearts appear, always in the same place, with no indication on your perfomance. This doesn't affect the gameplay, just the progression and success of the dance are deployed differently.

Space Channel 5 Dreamcast Alpha Prototype.jpg
Dreamcast Space Channel 5.jpg

Sweet little hearts


It is possible to obtain a "View Rating", at the bottom right of the player interface, of 100% at each stage, as in the Space Channel 5 sequel. The player starts from 0% each time.

The texture of the loading screen before each stage is not the same as in the final game.

The Morolians Ulala must face at the end of a report (level) are rarely present (they are in report 1).

The characters all use Morolians interface graphics and sounds, with the exception of Chief Blank, who has his own. User interface graphics mean the icons at bottom left. When Pudding makes her moves, for example, she has a temporary Morolian pictogram, not the one she should be assigned. This applies to all the bosses in the prototype.

Report 1: Introducing...Ulala!

Ulala arrives at Spaceport 9, the first zone to be invaded by Morolians. She walks elegantly and jiggles through the main hall, then into the flight control tower, where the Space Rescue Police have retreated to rescue workers from the area. All seems well until Channel 42's rival reporter, Pudding, appears before the Channel 5 camera. She and Ulala quickly engage in an impromptu dance-off to see who's the best. Ulala forces Pudding and her cohorts to beat a retreat. Then Ulala and the people she has rescued head for the launch pad. On their way, the robot Coco Tapioca confronts them in a crazy dance duel. The boss is soon defeated and Ulala's report ends successfully.

Fuse Concept

Fuse SC5 Concept


The opening cinematic of this level (report) lacks effects such as the SC5 logo. It doesn't display the year in which the game's story takes place (ad 2489). The "10 years later" text differs from the familiar one. When the information "ad 2499..." and "Spaceport 6: 45 pm" appears on the screen, the font color is white instead of green. The "Ulala's swinging report" logo does not match that of the final version. The level name does not appear.

Sega Space Channel 5.jpg

Pudding concept


An initial model of Ulala

During the first and second fights, Ulala's animation after a victory is not the one normally used. She doesn't express her joy by chanting "Woo" with the others...

Fuse is mute. He doesn't speak up when people are rescued.

The time it takes to rescue space workers seems to be much longer (to be confirmed).

When delivering guitarist NPCs, the player should hear guitar sounds. The sound effects of the musical instrument may not be implemented, or the volume setting may be very low, almost inaudible.

Clash with Pudding

As is often the case with this prototype, the music composed for the dance contest against Pudding doesn’t sound like the one used in the final version.


Audio (dialogue lines) is not present during the interaction between Ulala and Pudding.

Pudding and his henchmen teleport during the confrontation with Ulala. This feature is specific to the Space Channel 5 Alpha build.

The guitar riffs are non-existent.

There are no Morolians at the end of the encounter with Pudding.

Ulala's design evolution


Camera angles are not corrected. FMVs (videos played in a video game from pre-recorded video files) are not synchronized with model placement.

Confrontation with Coco Tapioca

Combat mechanics against "Coco Tapioca" feature build-specific controls during the second phase of his confrontation. He approaches the heroine slowly, rather than firing directly at her as in the final version.

Sketch of Coco Tapioca

The Mecha doesn't attempt to eliminate the Sub-Morolians - it probably hadn't been programmed yet.


It's also notable that Sub-Morolians don't have the usual yellowish glow above their heads.

The green light effect of the rings on Ulala and the boss during the confrontation with the killer robot is missing.

The fight perhaps lasts longer (to be confirmed)

Surprisingly, the villain gets bigger, a behavior that seems to be a bug.

Report 2: Spaceship S.O.S.!

Ulala finds herself onboard the Luxury Spacecraft G for her second report. After saving the Space Diva, danger looms on the horizon. Rogueship-A-Go-Go and the Space Pirates make their introduction! A few technical difficulties arise during the broadcast, then the cameraman focuses on the infamous space pirate Jaguar. He challenges Ulala to dance, but she proves that she knows her choreography perfectly. Jaguar and the other pirate broadcasters flee in pursuit of the Morolian fleet's mothership. Ulala and the victims saved so far must now dance and face Morolina, another Machavian robot. Ulala wins the battle, boosting Channel 5's ratings.


Jaguar concept

Backgrounds are darker. The brightness setting must have something to do with it.

When Ulala walks down the corridor to the cockpit at the very beginning of the level, the teacher (an NPC) doesn't stand behind her. He's non-existent.

There are no statistics at the very beginning of the story, those that should unfold before Ulala arrives in the cockpit. This will be the case until Jaguar appears.

The people holding the captain hostage have animations that don't match those in the final version.

In the final version, the hostages adopt a shooting position, which is not the case in Space Channel 5's alpha.

Earthlings don't copy the waitress's motions.

The section with the mannequin (the Super-Model) in the space is longer and includes an extra pause.

Strangely, Jaguar teleports away.

Bad Tuning's flames are a little rougher.

NPCs Tachibana and Mr. Nervous do not yet exist.


Enemies 88Man are not yet represented on screen.

The cockpit

Ulala final rendering

The cockpit screens don't flash red. They may be a brighter yellow.

The chairs don't turn.

Women appear in the cockpit without errors, while men are not rendered correctly.

The music used differs from the familiar one.


The musical score for the cockpit is the same as that heard in Level 1.

The interior of the elevator, before going to the dining room, looks different.

Jaguar showdown and dining room passage

In the dining room, the prototype shows no notification.

There's no comment when Ulala enters the dining room.

Sketch of Jaguar


For once, the first song is almost the same. It does, however, lack a few extra rhythms that occur when the player is on a winning streak.

Rescuing Amy Amania (the Diva) is more difficult. There's a vase of flowers that shouldn't be there (see Space Channel 5 rendering details photo above).

Jaguar's introductory intro is unfinished. He dances like the Morolians before the battle.

Concept of Ulala


Jaguar has different equipment to start with. The differences are minimal.

Jaguar has a dance that doesn't reflect the one used on the finished product. Its controls are slightly unrecognizable.

Clash with Morolina

As already mentioned, a recurring problem with the Build, there is no notification against Morolina.

If the green light effect with the ring pattern is executed, the children suffer no consequences and are therefore not telegraphed.

Early design of Ulala


The background is not displayed for the last part of the boss fight. It is black.

Sketch of Morolina

The last phase of Morolina's fight has unknown controls.

The robot's tongue is not rendered for certain camera shots. It is invisible.

Once Morolina has been defeated, he does not appear in the sequence in which Ulala walks, which should also display the combat statistics.


Report 3: Catch the Scoop!

The Morolians' secret base has been discovered in the asteroid belt. Ulala rides Astrobeat Jr. in pursuit of journalists from other TV stations to get the scoop. Pudding and her bodyguards, Shinichiro Tachibana and 88MAN, are among those Ulala shoots to clear the way to the secret base. Jaguar arrives with his ship, which blows up a large asteroid in front of Ulala shortly after confronting her with his crew of space pirates. He manages to hold her back long enough for Pudding to get inside a huge modified asteroid. Her luck quickly runs out as she is hypnotized by the Morolians and needs rescuing.

For more details on this story, visit the Space Channel 5 fandom, source of the introductions to each Report featured in this article.

Early design of Pudding


In bulk

The introductory scene is a still image.

No male space pirate supports Jaguar, even if mistakes are made.

Pudding is not shown entering the secret base.

Astrobeat Jr is not textured.

There are no pauses or breaks between the report's segments.

There are errors with the character models in relation to themselves and the background. Astrobeat Jr. faces the camera at certain moments, which is unusual.

Clash with Morolin Monroe

The player does not perceive the Morolin Monroe boss at the start of the fight.


Space Channel 5 in the early days

The screens are tiny during the confrontation with Monroe.

Morolin Monroe rendering


The scene before the third boss phase is different. Jaguar is not surrounded by his team, although they do appear at the end.

Jaguar doesn't dance with Ulala.

The fight with Monroe ends earlier than usual. They don't explode when he's killed (FMV scene).

Report 4: Evil in the Galaxy Revealed!

Ulala, Pudding and Jaguar go to Channel 5 headquarters to find the mastermind behind the invasion. It turns out to be none other than Channel 5's CEO, Chief Blank. He flees - or rather teleports - away from the trio and the chase continues. In the connecting corridor, we meet Space Michael, who is rescued from the Morolians and joins Ulala on her way to the control room. In the elevator, we see Mr. Blank sitting on a chair. Taunting the pink-haired journalist, he flies to the roof while Ulala has to deal with a mass of Morolians. Saving Hoorg, the Morolian Chief, completes the group that follows Ulala to the final confrontation.

For more details on this story, visit the Space Channel 5 fandom, source of the introductions to each Report featured in this article.

In bulk

Space Michael after being rescued

Ulala goes to the scene of the report, even though she's already there.

The heroine doesn’t make any comment before confronting Blank.

Blank is not in the Cutscenes.

Space Michael, who doesn't say "Ho", is held hostage by Morolian leaders. He doesn't do his famous Moonwalk in the next zone.


The  Morolian Chief and the Boss are visible before you fight them.

Evila has another animation during breaks. She also has less animations than in the final version.

Faced with Giant Evila, the player can afford to make more mistakes.

There's a heartbeat sound when Ulala is alone during the fight against Giant Evila.

Sketch with Hoorg, Clork and a red Morolian


All the songs in the final section are the same.

The end sequence is half completed.

As for the unfinished pre-report Cutscene, the lighting polish is missing and the Morolians are shown reacting to something.

Pudding doesn't hold a microphone.

Morolians of every color


In the prototype, the Morolians are not shown teleporting before the confrontation, unlike in the final version.

Different animations are used when the gang walks (using the standard animation) in many places. However, just after the fight with Boss Morolian, the animation used is finally the right one.

The absence of the sounds of footsteps is noteworthy.

Space MJ, before combat or breaks, does not perform unique animations, although Leaders oddly do.

When Ulala was a blonde...


The animation following Space MJ's rescue differs.

The background is slightly strange when we see the pianist.

Pudding and his henchmen

The scene with Evila is unfinished.

Evilia doesn't have all its unique directional animations.

Jaguar and Pudding are shown backing up with Ulala. In the final version, they are normally out of camera range.


The analysis of this alpha prototype of Space Channel 5 Dreamcast was complicated. The game is special, so it's difficult to explain what's different from the final version in a way that everyone can understand. The differences are mainly in the music and character animations, something that can't be shown in photos.

Space Channel 5 Alpha (Aug 05, 1999 Dreamcast prototype).jpg

You can download this build alpha of Space Channel 5 Dreamcast below

Space Channel 5 (Aug 11, 1999 Dreamcast prototype)

Other prototypes of Space Channel 5 Dreamcast

These Space Channel 5 Dreamcast prototypes are very special. For this reason, a page is dedicated to them, detailing their particular features (a build analysis).

Space Channel 5 Dreamcast (Apr 20, 2000 prototype).webp
  • The PAL prototype of Space Channel 5 dated April 20, 2000 contains a Nindows Debug Menu. Michael Jakson's unused in-game voices have been discovered, and you can listen them!

Special Thanks to:

pour espacement

More than 200 prototypes, documents and presskits have been dumped or scanned, and are available for free download in the "Releases prototypes and documents" section.

bottom of page