How Can I Play It?: The Tetsuya Mizuguchi catalog
Rez! Space Channel 5! And all the other games discussed in this week's Retronauts podcast, plus more, on modern systems (when available).
This week's podcast features an hour-long interview with legendary game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Many of his games emphasize light and sound to create a sort of immersive audio-visual experience, as seen in Rez... which, handily, just launched last week for Steam with added VR support.
Not all of Mizuguchi's catalog is quite so accessible, though. Much of his most famous work happened at SEGA during that brief window in which the company threw caution to the wind and let designers pursue creative concepts at their whim. While that resulted in some truly amazing, one-of-kind works (including Mizuguchi's projects under internal division United Game Artists), it does make them a bit hard to come by unless you happened to hang on to your Dreamcast. So, we've put together this list to help you track down the most recent revisions of Miz's games — some of which do in fact run on current game platforms.
SEGA Rally/SEGA Rally Championship
Mizuguchi's first game project, SEGA Rally and its follow-up, constitute the third pillar in SEGA's racing empire. These games unfortunately have only appeared on arcade hardware and SEGA Saturn. The Saturn versions did receive a U.S. release, and copies sell for less than $20 these days. Saturn hardware, on the other hand, is hard to come by and expensive when you can find it, which doesn't make it a practical option unless you already own the system. You can still play several SEGA Rally sequels on previous-gen consoles, though; Mizuguchi didn't work on them, but they are part of his legacy.
Space Channel 5
An elaborately choreographed take on the rhythm action game, Space Channel 5 recasts the genre as a sort of Broadway musical set in the far future in which a news reporter named Ulala leads humanity in repelling an army of alien invaders. It's all set to a catchy, eclectic soundtrack centered around acid and electronic remixes of a piece of music from the ’60s. Michael Jackson also shows up, dancing as himself. Weird? Yes. And also wonderful.
Space Channel 5
Dreamcast, PS2, Game Boy Advance
Sadly, the original Space Channel 5 can only be acquired and played on its original platforms. (We don't recommend the GBA version unless you you really enjoy slumming it.) However, you can pick up its sequel more readily:
Space Channel 5 Pt. 2
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Steam
Unlike the original game, the sequel showed up on PSN as high-rez remake for PS3 and Xbox 360. It also appeared on 360 in the Dreamcast Collection compilation. However, neither 360 release supports Xbox One backward compatibility. The good news is that even if you don't have last-gen hardware kicking around anymore, you can also grab it from Steam.
A dizzying marriage of sight and sound, this on-rails shooters may be short and fairly unchallenging, but the synaesthetic experience it offers more than makes up for those shortcomings.
Dreamcast, PlayStation 2
The original Rez appeared on Dreamcast (import only) and PS2. That doesn't make it terribly accessible in this day and age. Thankfully, two different remake editions keep it in current circulation:
An upscaled version of Rez, still available for sale on Xbox 360's digital storefront. It's not yet backward compatible on Xbox One, but that seems like an inevitability the way support has gone.
PlayStation 4, Steam
The newest iteration of Rez adds a free-moving final stage, Area X, and support for VR goggles. You can buy it for PlayStation 4 or on Steam.
Initially created as a sort of proof-of-concept for the PlayStation Portable, Lumines combined dazzling visuals with a sort shimmering musical soundscape that really helped sell the PSP as something new and fresh. The concept soon made its way beyond the PSP.
The original game can only be played on its original hardware. Thankfully, its very similar sequels offer a wider array of options:
Lumines Electronic Symphony
The PSP game never showed up as a digital release on PSN, which makes it incompatible with Vita. However, the actual Vita sequel, Electronic Symphony, is available in both digital and physical formats.
While it never shipped in the U.S. as a retail release, Lumines Supernova for PS3 remains available for purchase on the PlayStation store.
Xbox 360/Xbox One
Xbox 360's Lumines Live! not only remains up for sale for its original platform, it also supports backward compatibility for Xbox One.
Where Lumines showed off the potential of the PSP as a multimedia games and entertainment device, Meteos revolved around the DS touch screen... though the concept proved flexible enough to make its way to other platforms. The concept hasn't been revisited for current systems (likely due to Mizuguchi's Q? Entertainment studio disbanding), but it's not totally inaccessible. Several iOS conversions also exist, but with the platform's imminent changeover to a 64-bit operating system, those releases have unfortunately reached the end of their natural life.
Meteos Disney Magic
The original Meteos appeared on DS in 2005, and a remake based on the Disney license showed up a few years later. As DS games, you can of course play either cart on any 2DS or 3DS system. The carts are inexpensive and easy to find.
This Xbox 360 conversion hasn't shown up for Xbox One backward compatibility, but you can still download and play it on the original hardware.
Adapted from the final game to have been created by legendary Nintendo designer Gunpei Yokoi, Gunpey was liberated from the shackles of the obscure WonderSwan handheld by Q? Entertainment and finally received a long-awaited American release in 2006. With a vibe similar to Meteos, it also involves shifting panels around to create matches... though in this case, you match shapes rather than colors. It came in two versions.
Another PSP release predating Sony's shift to digital distribution, Gunpey only came to PSP as a UMB release at retail and therefore once again cannot be played on Vita.
More colorful and cartoonish than the PSP version, Gunpey DS has two things going for it: Touchscreen controls, and the ability to be played on living hardware. It runs effortlessly, of course, on 2DS and 3DS systems.
Every Extend Extra
A sort of spiritual follow-up to Lumines, Every Extend Extra also debuted on PSP. While the concept behind EEE didn't originate with Mizuguchi — his studio adapted it from an indie game — his indelible touch helped elevate the initial concept into an audio-visual treat. It's a game in which the goal is to die repeatedly in a dazzling array of explosions.
Every Extend Extra
No digital release for this old PSP game. Which means no Vita play. Whomp whomp.
Every Extend Extra Extreme
Xbox 360/Xbox One
This expanded upgrade edition showed up on Xbox 360 as a digital release and does enjoy Xbox One backward compatibility.
Child of Eden
And finally, a spiritual follow-up to Rez. Child of Eden was designed for use with Kinect and PlayStation Move, taking the Rez concept one step closer to Miz's dream of virtual reality. Perhaps because of the specific focus on those peripherals, Child of Eden has never appeared on current consoles or Steam; you can only play on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.