Title  : Space Station Silicon Valley
Platforms  : Nintendo 64
Publisher  : Take 2 Interactive
Game Rating  : 8.4
Review by  : Ken Gagne

A thousand years ago, in 2001, the world's most sophisticated space station, Silicon Valley, was launched — and promptly disappeared. Now it has suddenly returned, and it's headed for Earth! Where has it been? And who's in charge of it? 

No, it's not "Event Horizon: The Game", but Space Station Silicon Valley, an odd title for the Nintendo 64 from Take 2 Interactive and DMA Design, the folk who brought you Lemmings. 

Silicon Valley places Dan and Evo, Earth's bravest, cheapest heroes, on the station to put things in order in 36 levels in four areas. Gamers play as Evo, a computer chip with the ability to possess any dead creature it comes across (even if Evo must aide living animals into that state). Hosts include flying sheep, mice with wheels, dogs with missile launchers, springy thingies, and more. All animals must be exploited to accomplish goals such as herding sheep into pens, draining flooded areas, activating computers, and finding Dan something fuzzy to hug. Just don't get caught without an creature to inhabit, or Evo may perish! 

These puzzling tasks are performed from a 3D perspective similar to Super Mario 64. The graphics are smooth, colorful, and detailed, with animals wearing silly faces and items easily identifiable even from a distance. As always, there is some trouble with the camera system, which can be rotated but not always to the best perspective. Fortunately, this problem occurs rarely. 

Each animal has two main functions, varying upon the creature: from jump to fire to carry to teleport to ram, and others. With no other controls to worry about, the game is easy to play — a good thing, since the goals are not so simple. 

Silicon Valley quickly becomes difficult. Levels with four tasks and six animals are soon introduced, with just a few slip-ups causing one to start over. With work, the various stages can be overcome, but players lacking patience will find themselves quickly frustrated. 

There are forty power cells, and a souvenir, to find on each level. Although unnecessary to complete the goals, they offer an incentive to replay, completing all puzzles to get a perfect score. 

The music is bouncy and whimsical. Sound effects are a boon to the game's pleasant temperament: sheep trot along at a laughably fast pace, making different sounds as their hooves strike grass, wood, or metal. Express your displeasure at opposing forces: with the push of a button, your ewe bleats on command! 

Silicon Valley combines the best of platformers such as Super Mario and puzzlers such as Lolo and Lost Vikings into a unique title with a quirky sense of humor. In the year 3000, there are no petting zoos. Find out why!


This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 23-Nov-98