Retro Review – Space Station Silicon Valley

N64 Platformer Space Station Silicon Valley Reviewed

Platform: N64

Publisher: Take Two Interactive

Developer: DMA Design

Year: 1998


Silicon Valley is the most high-tech space station ever built in the advanced year of 2001 and, seven months after being built, mysteriously disappeared. It is now one thousand years later and the station has suddenly reappeared near Uranus. After five subsequent marine-led failures to board and figure out what happened with the space station Dan and his top-of-the-line robotic companion, Evo, take on the quest for a small fee. It really is a small fee as well, it was a discount advertised on the television.

On their way to the station our two heroes get into a fight over what station to play on the radio and crash into a meteorite, sending them spiraling (literally) down to Silicon Valley, where, in the meantime, a dog has just professed his love to a sheep. Unfortunately Dan and Evo’s spaceship crashes directly on the poor mutt, killing it. Evo is also destroyed, but the computer chip which gives her life pops out of her destroyed chassis and implants itself into…the dog. Then the game begins.

When I first picked up this game, at whatever thrift store or rummage sale I did, I had the idea that Space Station Silicon Valley was going to be a tycoon sim. It just sounded like one. This is definitely not the case. Silicon Valley is a 3-D platformer where, as with most platformers, your goals are to progress level-by-level and acquire any number of items while doing odd, unexplainable tasks; such as racing a robotic dog on wheels. If you’ve played a platformer, then you know what to expect. What really sets this game apart is the character you play as.

Remember Evo? The robot companion who died in the ship crash? You play her. Well, more specifically you play the computer chip which gives her life. When the game starts you already have control of the dog she implanted herself into but there are many different and varied kinds of creatures out there for you to control ranging from a robotic mouse to vultures to chameleons and so on and so forth. There are a little over forty different animals to control and all you have to do is kill them first. So let’s recap. The main action of the game is as follows: run around as an animal, collect things, become bored with animal and kill other animals, possess the carcass of newly dead animals, rinse, and repeat. To think, the ESRB gave this game an “E for Everyone” rating. There’s no blood or gore, but really it’s the principle of murdering animals to wear their bodies as meat suits.

Every time you take over an animal’s body you get to view a statistics page, where you are given a lot of useless information. The things that are shown are things such as falling distance, mass, name, and usefulness in the water. There are at most two or three pieces of these statistics that are actually important and two of them are the falling distance, which tells you how far each animal can fall without dying, and water, which tells whether the animal floats, swims, or drowns.

Of course there are many things to collect. There are the essentials, energy cells, which enable Evo to grow stronger, as well as power cells which add to your point total, and trophies which are rewarded for doing secret objectives. Between collecting every power cell, energy cell, and trophy in the game and completing each varied objective a fan of the platforming genre will not grow bored with Silicon Valley anytime soon, but beware, mindless tasks can grow weary after plugging away at them for more than a few hours at a time.

Silicon Valley is a very quirky, but fun game. It has what could be known as a face-palm humor, like one might find on the television show “The Office,” and it works well with the overall feel of the game. Most of the humorous lines come from the mission briefings for each of the thirty-0ne missions. Example:

“Listen up! In this zone there’s a long line of obscure puzzles to solve, deadly traps to negotiate, an idol to steal and a big rolly rock to avoid…”

Not once does the game feel “serious,” which is refreshing. Expect to feel a bubbling good feeling while playing Silicon Valley. This good cheer comes mostly from the script, which is actually fairly limited, but the bright colors and gentle, feel-good music all contribute to the peaceful experience.

Though the game features bright and vivid colors the graphics are definitely the weakest point of this game. Even though it’s an N64 game the sprites are incredibly blocky and low-detailed. If it were compared to Super Mario 64 Silicon Valley would seem to be still in development. While playing a friend walked by and asked me what animal I was. I explained that I was currently possessing the body of a ram. She asked me the difference between the rams and the sheep, so I said “well, sheep are white circles with black sticks for legs and big googly eyes. Rams are the same, but with little squiggles on the head for horns.” The environment looks pretty bad as well. The landscape is all very plain, and very uninspired.

However, that’s not enough to ruin this odd little game. The music is chirpy, and very happy. It could almost be described as “grooving.” At first I thought the music didn’t quite fit some of the tasks, such as the race with the motorized dog. Then I realized that the race wasn’t meant to be over strenuous. Silicon Valley is not meant to stress the player out, it’s meant to relax and give the player a good time.

Even though the graphics are very weak, even for the late nineties, the story, jokes, music, and enjoyable gameplay make Space Station Silicon Valley a pretty decent game. On a quick play through, without collecting absolutely everything, one could expect to spend about ten to fifteen hours on the game. But if one were to gather up every goodie the game presents, expect the length to creep into the high twenties. Either way, Silicon Valley is a surprisingly fun title buried amidst a sea of mimed platformers.



7.5



+ Feel good atmosphere

+ Clever story and humor

+ Unique gameplay; possessing bodies of dead animals incredibly fun

+ Soothing music

+ Lots of things to keep you busy and entertained


– Terrible graphics

– Somewhat repetitive gameplay

– Could be too long for some gamers