Bangai-O is one of those games that if you mention it people will either look at you like you are crazy, or light up with delight. This Treasure shooter has roots as far back as the N64 and has made appearances on Nintendo’s handheld DS as well as Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast. The series is as peculiar as its name, and the first HD iteration lives up to the legend. If you are a fan, this new chapter is definitely worth checking out, and if you are a curious bystander, this is easily the best place to find out what all the fuss is about.
If you were to glance at a screenshot of Bangai-O HD, or happen to see someone playing it and have never seen the series before, you might be inclined to mutter a subtle “WTF” at what is taking place onscreen. To be honest, you would be justified. This game is lunacy in digital form. Oftentimes, there is so much going on that it can be hard to tell what you are doing or where your character is. This is Bangai-O, and I love it.
At its core, the game is a shooter, but not in the traditional sense. Sure, you move with the left stick and shoot with the right, but the similarities really end there. The game is broken up into small levels, all of which have unique objectives to complete. They can be as simple as a room full of turrets lobbing missiles at you to vertically scrolling levels with enemies diving straight for you. It can be hectic at times, but it never gets dull. Also worth noting, is that Bangai-O has a reputation for being abusive with its difficulty, and HD is no different. The game punishes you by filling the screen with projectiles.
The cool thing is, that once you fail a level three times, the game allows you to continue on whether you beat it or not. For those of us out there that lack the skills for hardcore games like this, this is a godsend. Building up a multiplier is also key to high scores. There is a lot to keep you coming back, including leaderboards, a level editor and even co-op play. For those willing to dive into the level editor, it really lets you create some awesome sandboxes, and I cannot wait to download them, but unfortunately it is too clunky for the likes of me.
The visual design of the game is fantastic and seeing all that action onscreen can be overwhelming. The game can chug both in single player and in co-op, but you almost welcome it. The stuttering of the action can give you a window of opportunity to escape a barrage of missiles at the last second. The sound effects are standard arcade fare with plenty of explosions, and the music is catchy but nothing that deems buying the soundtrack.
There really isn’t much else you can say about Bangai-O. It is one of those games that you truly have to experience to understand. I recommend that anyone who enjoys shooters give this game a whirl. It is definitely jam-packed with content, not to mention unique. Fans of the series are in for a treat with all the new levels and ability to download more, and newcomers should find the punishing difficulty tolerable thanks to the game throwing you a bone from time to time. In the end, this is one of the best shooters available on XBLA, by far.
Review copy provided by publisher.