Jahanzeb Khan
02 Jan, 2010

Bangai-O Spirits Review

DS Review | Another mech bites the archives.
Robots are massive and cause insane amount of destruction, yet in the midst of the more obvious stuff, we seem to have overlooked these behemoth war machines. Previously, we archived Custom Robo Arena and Wartech Senko no Ronde, two games based around robots/mechs. Here, we’ve got another archive review and once again it’s a game that centres around mechs, Bangai-O Spirits for the Nintendo DS.

Bangai-O Spirits is a 2D action shooter that comes under the sub genre of ‘shmups’, featuring the element of ‘bullet hell’ action. This means that you need to survive an overwhelming barrage of bullets, missiles and plasma shots while unleashing a barrage of your own. Bangai-O Spirits comes from Treasure, a company well known for these type of games (many calling them masters of the genre) and their past hits include the likes of Ikaruga, Gunstar Heroes and the legendary Radiant Silvergun. Bangai-O Spirits feels like a very bare bones game and the first impression that you will get is that there is a lack of substance, in the sense that there is no plot or setting, other than two children and a scientist that star in the game’s tutorial. Thankfully, that’s not the case as the game has enough gameplay and content to keep fans busy.

OMG! Treasure made this game! We should give it a 10/10!...NOT.

OMG! Treasure made this game! We should give it a 10/10!...NOT.

In Bangai-O Spirits, you control a mech called ‘Bangai-O’ and go through a series of very short levels that feature an insane amount of action. The core gameplay is quite simple to grasp but there is a great deal of skill and precision required to play the game properly. The controls are very simple and only use the digital controls of the DS, since the touch screen displays the actual gameplay and the top screen is used to display a handy map. The controls are responsive, precise and feel just right for this type of game. Before each stage, there are four attack buttons that need a weapon assigned to each. Bangai-O can equip some cool weapons, each with their own strengths and weakness, These come in three different categories: Missiles, Melee and EX attacks. Weapons include homing missiles, a sword, freeze powers and even a bat.

The weapons can do really interesting things. For example, the bat can be used to swing at enemy projectiles and send them right back, the freeze power freezes everything and the bounce missile will spring all over the place. What’s more interesting is that two missiles can be ‘mixed’ to create a unique missile that combines the two characteristics of the missiles used, so the homing missile and the bounce missile can be mixed to create a homing bounce missile. Finally, EX attacks are assigned to shoulder buttons and any weapons assigned to them becomes more powerful and utilized by the EX gauge.

When it comes to combat in this game, you need to rack up combos and create a chain reaction to destroy enemies as quickly and effectively as possible. One of the most useful skills you need to master is the counter attack, where if you time an EX barrage right before the enemy barrage touches you then can unleash a powerful counter barrage.

Welcome to Hell...bullet hell that is!

Welcome to Hell...bullet hell that is!
The core gameplay mechanics are all good, but the game is very different from your usual 2D shooters. You can freely move in a finite area within each of the many stages and the stages are extremely short, featuring a small playing field and usually lasting under a minute. Each stage requires you to think and act very fast and they feature mix of puzzle solving, intense bullet hell combat and high speed boosting action. It’s very interesting to see how each of the stages vary and it really keeps things fresh by forcing players to approach each stage differently. The puzzle stages are quite unique and it’s admirable how they implemented such clever puzzles in a 2D shooter, one cool example being a Dig Dug style puzzle stage. The fact that these stages are so short and quick makes Bangai-O Spirits a great game for short bursts of play.

The game features a large selection of stages to choose from but it doesn’t end there as the main feature of Bangai-O Spirits allows players to create their own levels and edit existing levels in the Edit Mode, and this is where the touch screen comes into play. The level editor tools are extremely simple and they allow players to create really cool levels in no time. Normally such modes have a steep learning curve but in the case of Bangai-O Spirits, everything is simple and fun.

Moving on to multiplayer, Bangai-O Spirits has a multiplayer feature that allows four players to compete against each other. Also players can share the levels they have created using ‘sound’, yes you have to sonically transfer levels and this can be done from DS to DS or even PC to DS. We would like to explain this unique transfer system in detail but we would need the instruction manual walk you through it.

Nice portable shooting package.

Nice portable shooting package.
Graphically, Bangai-O Spirits is very simple and retro but the explosions and other particle effects are still pretty vibrant and colourful, while the actual mech itself is so small that you can barely make out what it is. Seeing that this is one of those bullet hell games, you will see an overwhelming number of particles on screen and most of the time it becomes a tad too much for the game to process, resulting in heavy slowdown. Thankfully, the slowdown never hurts the experience and it instead adds the element of “Wow! My barrage of attacks was too much for the DS to process!”. In terms if music and sound there isn’t anything special as the game features generic 90s shmup music and sound effects.

Bangai-O Spirits is an unique and entertaining shmup for the DS. It offers plenty of gameplay variety and the level creation mode adds more to an already decent package. The game feels right for a portable console since it is one of those fast and addictive games that are great for short bursts of play. The learning curve isn’t steep at all but it takes a great deal of practice and skill to get really good and precise. If you are an old school gamer looking for a simplistic yet challenging 2D shooter for the DS then Bangai-O Spirits is worth checking out.
The Score
Bangai-O Spirits is an entertaining portable shmup title that has plenty of game to offer.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
4 years ago
I bought this game a while ago thinking it would rock (I mean, Treasure made it, and they made Ikaruga - plus it got good reviews from Metacritic).
But seriously, this game was nothing more than a big bundle of disappointment. 7 1/2 is overrated - probably 6 is fair, and that's for the $20 I paid for it new.
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  20/11/2008 (Confirmed)
Year Made:

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