Game accessibility doesn’t always start and end with it either needs to be an audio game, or it needs to have straight up accessibility features built into the UI. Sometimes, all it takes is solid gameplay, simple controls, and game mechanics that are easy to grasp, and entertaining enough to mix up into different levels.
I recently went through the process of setting Steam up on my computer. It was to test out a demo of a game that I was told it was going to be accessible, and turned out there were features in menus, but not for the gameplay. I had gone through the process of setting it all up however, which wasn’t very easy to do (Steam setup isn’t accessible, but workable. Topic for another post) so I figured, why not keep it installed on my computer, and play some games I knew I had always wanted to play, but were only on Steam.
I asked on Twitter for some game recommendations that a blind gamer could play, and got a response from a fellow blind gamer. Their list was super helpful, and on it was Space Channel 5 Part 2 – a rhythm game from the Dreamcast era, that had easy controls, and said every pattern you were supposed to match verbally.
It’s been a week, and I’ve already clocked 9 hours into this game! It’s so much fun, and such a basic setup. It’s not only a rhythm game, but it has a plot that’s equal parts epic, and epically ridiculous. The soundtrack is fantastic – very reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy music, and I find myself bopping to the music and wanting to replay the levels just to hear said music, and watch specific story beats in the game.
Now the big question for blind gamers, is it accessible?
For the most part, yes. The game itself is playable, but when you first boot up the game, there’s a game config screen that doesn’t speak, and it just seems like the game didn’t load. My computer doesn’t have the best specs, so I thought I just wasn’t able to play the game, but when I had sighted assistance, they had to setup the config screen initially. After that, the game loaded with no issues…in Japanese.
So upon further research, there’s a glitch in the game that starts the language in Japanese. To fix this, I went into the text file of the config in the PC folder for the game. Change the voice language from “1” to “0” and reload the game, and you should be good to go!
As far as level accessibility, there was one hang up in Report 5 that I’d like to point out. At that part of the game, there’s one section where you’re dancing against a robot, so instead of verbally voicing the commands, they just make robot noises. There’s a later section in that level where all they say is “Chu” for every command, and you have to shoot with different patterns there. So what I did to get past that was watch this video, write down what Ulala was saying, and toughed through it as best I could. I really just wanted to beat the game, so wasn’t trying to get a perfect score, but those sections would totally be memorizable in later playthroughs, and I really want to work at getting good at the two sections in this report that I’d have to memorize.
But yeah, I love this game! The goofy camp of the plot is totally my aesthetic. I love all of the characters – Ulala is the best – and the gameplay mechanics are so sound. It’s simple, and tons of fun, to the point where I’m trying to find other rhythm games exactly with this gameplay. Sadly no luck yet, but still on the hunt!
This game is accessible, and I don’t think it was trying to be. But it’s nice to find a mainstream game that just is accessible right out of the box more or less, simply because the controls and gameplay are just easy to grasp, and hard to master. Having it all voiced was also nice, and something that easily makes a game accessible and it something common in mainstream games, so it’s definitely a step developers can consider when thinking of easy accessibility options.
This isn’t a game I see talked about a lot in the “What games are accessible to play for the blind” talks that pop up so much in blind gamer circles, so I really wanted to spotlight it on the blog, and hopefully help other blind gamers find it. It’s hard to find good rhythm games to play, so I really hope you enjoy this one if you decide to pick it up on Steam! I got it on sale, and it was totally worth the price. I know I’m going to continue replaying this, I already have been turning it on to play through Reports again, and I’m trying to chug through the Ulala 100 stage dance challenge mode. It’s just a game that’s huge amounts of fun, and I can’t recommend it more for fans of quirky games, with simple gameplay and a lot of heart!
So in the words of Ulala, this has been my swingin’ report show! I really hope this helps anyone considering picking up the game and checking it out!