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Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury Review

Historically, Japanese developer Treasure have enjoyed pushing consoles to their absolute limits. Whether explicitly stated on the Engrish-reading pause screen of 1995’s Alien Soldier (“now is the time to the 68000 heart on fire”) or articulated in the unprecedented sprite rotation and scaling of 1993’s Gunstar Heroes, the Tokyo-based studio has cultivated an oeuvre of fastidious coded titles. Arguably, the quintessential example of this hardware-wringing work is Bangai-O. Initially, a limited run Japanese Nintendo 64 cart, the game was later reworked  in 2001 as a Dreamcast title, then reconstructed for 2008’s DS title, Bangai-O Spirits. While each entry has tweaked the basic rules of the franchise, one aspect has remained unchained: Bangai-O centers on pushing a unfathomable number of sprites around the screen to create one of the most engrossing experiences in gaming.

For better or worse, recent XBLA release Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury ups the ante even further. Early levels push protagonists through overcrowded ant colonies and star-filled skies brimming with turret fire, missiles, and irate enemies. With a reported 5,000 objects on the screen at once, each of the game’s levels erupt into gorgeous, firework-like showers- defying gamers to stay focused as they maneuver through torrential storms of a opponent shot. Yet, Bangai-O‘s aspirations have consistently transcended the bullet-hell genre. Expanding on the level design of Spirits, most of Missile Fury’s stages require players to solve cunning conundrums to balance the odds against an overwhelming onslaught of enemy forces.

Typically, countermeasures can be found in the game’s mech-suited protagonist. There’s the customary selection of homing missiles, bouncing lasers, and napalm shells which grow in potency as players get close to foes- all directed by the direction of the right thumbstick. A tap of the right trigger can induce a short invincibility dash or even freeze inbound aggressors for a few seconds. Bangai-O‘s signature move remains the game’s most  powerful weapon- with a press of the left trigger, players send out a barrage of firepower equivalent to the amount of encroaching flak. It’s a magnificently tempting mechanic that lures players into dangerous territories instead of taking pot-shots from cautious ranges. Of course, with each stage’s merciless timer, seconds can’t be squandered away in an infrequent safe zone.

Like previous entries in the franchise, Bangai-O‘s most devastating assaults are powered by  pieces of fruit left behind vanquished antagonists and structures. With the increased intensity of Missile Fury‘s mayhem, players no longer have to collect the edibles, Pac-Man style; instead, it’s magically pulled toward your Bangai-O and added to your score. While point-chasers are certain to enjoy the title’s leaderboards as well as replay videos for  the top ten players of each stage- currently the functionality seems stultified by launch week enthusiasm. I was able to download less than half of the game’s replays.

Equally constricted is the game’s level editor, which while  robust enough to recreate any of the game’s bundled stages, limits sharing to individuals on your friends list. Regrettably, Missile Fury missed an opportunity to develop  a community driven by budding designers and community ratings. Despite this setback, the level editor is fairly intuitive- allowing designers to jump in at any time and test their stages.

Beyond these transgressions, Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury has a few additional flaws which may prohibit the title from achieving mainstream success. Like many Treasure titles, the game can be painfully difficult, asking players to repeat stages until a stratagem is gleaned. While the assistance of a cooperative partner is a common solution to overwhelming adversaries, the title’s multiplayer mode is beset by the type of slowdown that solo campaign nobly avoids. Smartly, progress in Bangai-O never comes to a grinding halt- players can skip a level once it has been failed three times.

Gamers might be hard-pressed to find a title that requires as much concentration as Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury. Where many diversions may offer a handful moments were sharpened reflexes and unmitigated attention are vital for advancement, each of Missile Fury‘s 100+ stages necessitate these abilities. This intensity is certain to win over the hearts of proficient players, while more casual gamers may end up feeling Bangai-Owned. Like most Treasure titles, Missile Fury is an exhilarating, fastidiously crafted love letter to the hardcore, its margins overflowing with missiles locked-on to our hearts.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

42 comments

  1. Yeah, I tried the demo, the game seems super hardcore, but fun.

  2. Your Drunk Ex-Boyfriend

    First!

    Its hard to tell what the hell is going on in those screenshots.

  3. Not surprised by the score, Deagle always talk about how much he loves Bangaio.

  4. TreasureHunter

    DC Version > Missile Fury > Spirits > N64 version.

  5. Sgt. Slaughter

    In keeping up with the practice, I’ll post part of the IGN review that shows how pathetic they have become:

    “The level design is great and Missile Fury plays like a very, very untraditional shooter. Some missions require you to use only a specific powerup or move. In one mission I had to dash into giant soccer balls to get them to ricochet into enemy robots. It was rad. ”

  6. Radiant Silvergun and Guardian Heroes can’t come quick enough.

  7. As a hardcore Treasure fan, I’ll be getting this for sure.

  8. That is rad!

    “Untraditional” is a word now? God, who the hell writes for them, 3rd graders?

  9. I always though Spirits was was underrated.

  10. No,

    this is the best quote IGN has ever written:

    “Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is overwhelming. This is usually a good thing, but it is occasionally confusing. There’s so much crazy crap on screen that at some points it’s impossible to tell what’s going on. On numerous occasions a coworker walked by my desk, stared at the screen and asked, “What the hell is happening?” And every time I could only respond with, “I don’t know!”

  11. Desert, we needed a review review so you could show off your Bangai-O skills.

    BTW- I haven’t read IGN in months (Yep, blame the crap writing) but those quotes were hilarious. I can’t believe a once-reputable outlet would post that.

    One question- how many people can play at the same time?

  12. Solid Steel Cajones

    Ive always heard you guys champion Bangaio. Its cool to finally play a version of the game. I bought it and like it, but like you said- it’s really hardcore.

  13. Downloading the demo right now. How come no one told me this was out?!?!

  14. Stretch Caddy Daddy

    You know what else is “Rad”? Playing less game and learning how to write.

  15. The co-worker was looking at his review, obviously.

  16. Sure, but writing like “Like most Treasure titles, Missile Fury is an exhilarating, fastidiously crafted love letter to the hardcore, its margins crammed with homing missiles locked-on to our hearts.” uses bigger words, but it’s really pretentious.

  17. happydestruction

    Bangai-O is one of the reasons I still have a Dreamcast hooked up.

  18. How much of that A- is Deagle love of the game?

    Cmon, with the replays and co-op not working, can you really gives this game a A-?

  19. Whats so bad about the IGN review? Its simple and to the point. It’s like a friend talking to you.

  20. Bangin’ review!

  21. Hopefully, they’ll fix those things. Still not having replays are hardly a deal killer.

  22. My only complaint is that they got rid of the crazy cutscenes. At least Bangai-O flying toward you is still there.

  23. So far its about 5,000 times more intense than the N64 version. I don’t know if I like that.

  24. Damn, seems like you have an unhealthy love for Bangai-O, Deagle.

  25. I heard no one has finished the game yet on the leaderboards.

  26. Not bad for $10. Are there plans for DLC?

  27. Damn this game is crazy insane!

  28. 800 points seems like a decent price.

  29. Are there difficulty settings at least?

  30. Yep, but it’s permanently set at 11. 😉

  31. Uncle Moneybags

    Pure Bangaip-Oetry!

  32. Great review!

  33. So I was listening to Weekend Confirmed and they called this game a Metroidvania game.

    Also they had no idea that Thor DS was done by Wayforward. Let em know, Nola!!!

  34. I thought I heard that too. Im sure They’ll get the GAF attack.

  35. Insanity Confirmed!

  36. Why does everyone feel the need to make fun of others here? I don’t get game communities sometimes.

  37. When you’re a big site like IGN people expect a bit of quality. I know they caught shit for the Dead Space 2 review, but this one really takes the cake. This could be one of the worst reviews, they have even put out.

    Talking shit may not make a difference, but it might pressure them to get better writers.

  38. Good review- its so sad that some of these site just dont get Bangaio. More than just IGN, I’m hearing and reading web sites that haven’t seem to played the previous games, or bother to look at a video.

  39. I liked Maul’s comment best…

  40. Unmade Deathbed

    Just bought this. How the hell do I pass the vertical level, where you have to push the blocks in?

  41. I was playing this all night. Even though its hard as hell, I love every second, every level, every challenge. Anyone who is one the fence, needs to try it out!

  42. You guys are growing facial hair now?

    http://podcast.michaelcorrigan.org/