back, I wrote a little review for this site - a review of Alien
Soldier, one of the best 'run and gun' type shooters out there,
a game that took bosses to new levels and threw the boring platformy
bits (the levels, even!) out the window - that game was a rollercoaster
ride of explosive mayhem, boss following boss following boss - I
suggest you get a genesis emulator, and find the rom NOW.
why did I write that? Simple - Alien
Soldier, along with Gunstar Heroes, Radiant
Silvergun and many other Sega Genesis & Saturn shmups were
all developed by Treasure, who, quite frankly, rock, and now they
have moved to pastures greener, consoles whiter, and have gone and
developed a monster of a shmup for your sparkly little dreamcast
- after all these years, they've topped Alien Soldier. Enjoy.
- let's get down to the review, m'kay? =)
is their newest game - Bangaioh - and it is quite possibly the most
extreme and over the top shmup you have ever played - they have
pushed the Dreamcast to it's limits with this game. We all know
Sega's new monster machine can throw around polygons like theres
no tomorrow, but what about it's 2D capabilities, eh? Well, Bangaioh
proves that there's life in two dimensional shooters yet, by providing
you with a game where a single button press can launch the
biggest weapon you've ever seen - ever - guaranteed!
Some of Bangaioh's whacked out characters
is unlike any shmup you've ever played - it rewards kamikaze tactics,
stupidity, reckless charges and encourages you to fly as close to
enemy fire as humanly possible - the closer you cut each maneuver,
the more you get to blow up! The plot is irrelevant, and treasure
have kindly included an option to disable all chat between characters
(the game pauses while they talk via text boxes) and just get on
with the blasting - but let me say this - the plot and characters
are absolutely mad - I'm talking LSD induced raving bonkerness that
could only have come out of japan, and it's one of the things that
makes this game stand out so well.
the game follows a simple format - you start the level (one of 44),
blast your way through a maze of buildings (blow them up for points),
obstacles (avoid, blow them up or die), and enemies (just blow them
up!), find a boss or reactor (more of this later), and blow it up!
Then you go to the next level, and repeat - only with the chaos
factor increased a little further.
controls are simple, and it handles something like robotron, with
a little bit of cybernator - the D-Pad moves around your little
flying robot (the eponymous Bangaio), and double tapping a direction
makes you move even faster, while the A, B, X & Y buttons shoot
in 8 different directions - the left trigger changes weapon between
homing missiles of doom, and ricocheting lasers of death, while
the right trigger fires a smartbomb, or 'Baku' (Explode), consisting
of tons of shots of the type selected. That's it - simplicity itself.
try doing that against the force of gravity (you may have a flying
robot, but when it's not flying, it's falling), while 300 baddies
pummel you from all directions, while the walls, ceiling and floor
explode, and you try to aim a gun that is capable of firing around
15 explosive missiles of doom a second - sounds impossible, eh?
It isn't. Just as several hundred little shots o' doom are about
to reduce you to scrap metal, you press the 'explode' button..
jaw drops. You whoop with delight, You fall about laughing. You
call everyone in the room to see. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING
explodes. You repeat, again and again and again - always going for
the biggest blast.
you have just reached shmuppers nirvana - you have seen what it
is like to wield the ultimate weapon, unmatched by any shooter boss
ever, and it's in YOUR hands - when you use a bomb in this game,
everything blows up - nothing survives, and up to four hundred individually
animated, homing (complete with transparent vapor trail) and highly
explosive missiles (or even possibly bouncy lasers) swirl around
the screen in search of nasties, destroying everything in your path,
and then once everything you've seen has exploded, they fly off
screen in search of anything not yet blasted into subatomic particles.
see, this game thrives on danger and explosions (in that order)
- your main guns are useful against small groups of nasties, with
missiles good in open areas, and lasers for narrow tunnels, but
fairly useless against larger bunches of enemies (several hundred
on screen), so you need something bigger, and the smartbombs are
your salvation - you gain these weapons of nuclear death by shooting
stuff (anything, as long as it isn't a wall) - a bar in the corner
of your screen fills up, and when it's full you get a bomb - you
can carry up to five at any one time. Now, when you fire it, 40
shots are released by default - not much, granted, but impressive
enough - the real fun comes in the danger of using them.
some more... I don't know you but that sheep looks evil to
power of your smartbombs is effected by the level of danger you
are in - if there's one or two shots near your robot, you may get
50 or 60 shots - if there's a boss blasting away at you you may
get 100, or 150, but if absolutely everything is gunning for your
blood, and you're about to be hit by around a million shots at once,
everything dies - except you. This system encourages you to do downright
stupid and reckless things in search of increased destruction -
deliberately allowing yourself to get surrounded by dozens of foes,
flying dangerously near to flak turrets, or doing other stupid and
suicidal things. Also, the more things you actually blow up, the
more powerups you get - for every hundred simultaneous explosions
caused, a small health powerup appears, refilling 2 of your 10 health
'blocks', but should you have the fortitude to smartbomb 500 things
at once, you get ten seconds of invincibility, and the ability to
fly through anything, destroying it in a blaze of hyperactive glory!
that's it - that's the whole game - charge into battle, blow stuff
up, allow yourself to almost get blown up, and blow stuff up with
style - so why is it so good? Well, why was robotron so good? It
was simple, fun, addictive, and you blew lots of stuff up.
- so that's the gameplay and plot sides of this little bundle of
gaming joy - what's left? Well, graphics for one. This game really
takes advantage of high resolution graphics, and shies away from
the tradition of making large detailed sprites, and rather goes
the opposite way - the bangaio itself can't be more than 15-20 pixels
high, and most enemies are smaller, thus allowing them to pile in
insane numbers of sprites on screen (literally pile - you will fight
living mountains on nasties!), providing you with the most over
the top shmupping experience ever - the explosions are suitably
big and firey, and transparent too - and everything that DOES explode
also sends out piles of bouncing debris, just to add to the mayhem.
The level design is suitably silly as well, with some stages taking
less than 30 seconds, while others taking ages. Some are maze like
trawls, others will throw you in a pit with several hundred respawning
(shoot the spawners!) enemies, and tons of original and crazy ideas
- all mad as a fish, as you will see.
take note that this game pushes the dreamcast to the limits - later
on in the game you actually get some SLOWDOWN, but it's not that
common, and only happens when you've just blown up a planets worth
of nasties - and having that in slow motion is an experience you'll
the final touches - sound and music - these are toughies - both
are great, the sound is suitably manic, cars horns beeping, people
scream as you rampage godzilla style through cities, and characters
scream excitedly in japanese whenever anything happens. The music
is another matter - it's great while you play, and suitably catchy,
but eminently forgettable - most shmups have the ability to instill
my mind with at least one other annoyingly hummable tune, but not
this one - strange, that. Oh, and you WILL be weirded out by the
continue screen - what exactly is going on? If you can decipher
the text on it as well, I would LOVE to hear what it says!
only actual PROBLEM I have with this game is bosses - for the most
part, they're fine, but on too many levels there isn't one - just
a 'reactor' which you have to shoot a few hundred times - they don't
even fire back, and if you've cleared all the surrounding defenses,
you're in for a massively anticlimactic non-battle, the only redeeming
feature of which is that each reactor makes new and original silly
noises when you hit it!
the bosses themselves are a tiny part of the game, and are generally
not as fun to fight as the hordes of nasties you will encounter,
though, some bosses are great, such as rival bangaios, who also
have smartbomb bars, and can also launch 400 shots at once - cue
an astoundingly cataclysmic duel to the death - he who runs out
of bombs loses - unless you think you can dodge four hundred homing
missiles at once - independantly controlled eyes come in handy here
- also known as 'shmuppers eye'.
let's bring this to a close. shall we? This is definately the most
FUN game I've ever played - you have not lived till you've created
the biggest explosion in gaming history - just import this game
as soon as you can - you won't regret it, though, you may need a
little help deciphering the menu's - there's a small translation
FAQ at www.gamefaqs.com - anyhow, get this game now, and you won't
this game is going to make it's way to US & European shores sometime
later this year (yes, I'm amazed too!), under the somewhat more
boring name 'Bangai-O' - I have no idea how they are going to change
it, but I expect they'll try and tone down the madness of the plot
a bit. - I suggest importing the japanese version though - the plot
only serves to get in the way of the explosions, and treasure know
that - they let you turn it off.. This game is built with the emphasis
on the 'bang' - so just part company with your buck, and prepare
to laugh your head off!
Yours Explosively, Invicibly and definitely Madly