Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, May 06, 2011 05:26

I missed out on the original Bangai-O, so I asked someone more familiar with the series what I should expect. "Have fun dying within ten seconds", he replied. "It’s very, very quirky and you’re going to die a lot until you learn, the hard way, what the game wants you to do." It sounded like I was in for either a very frustrating or ’hardcore but fun’ game, and thankfully Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is the latter. It’s a fast-paced shooter with twin-stick moving/firing controls that has no problem sending several hundred missiles at you the very moment you start the game, but if you learn how to control things properly then you will find this same game is also very satisfying when you complete each stage.

Bangai-O HD: Missile FuryPlayed as a 2D scrolling shooter (though you control the scrolling), Bangai-O HD puts you in control of a robot blasting its way through several stages full of missiles, buildings to blow up, more missiles, giant space ants chasing you, some more missiles, bosses of varying size and ability, and enough missiles to pretty much fill the entire screen. Your robot can crank out dozens of missiles at a time and fly in any direction with ease, but on its own these talents are rarely enough; the real depth of play comes from mastering counter-attacks and dashing. Both are controlled by very limited meters, but dashing lets you plow through certain obstacles quickly and counter-attacks gain strength based on how many threats are close to you.

Planning out when and where to use counter-attacks is probably one of the best parts of Bangai-O HD. It’s scary to have the entire screen be covered in things trying to kill you, but it’s also hilarious and satisfying to do a well-timed counter that lets you turn the tables and suddenly you’re the one covering the screen in bullets and missiles! With huge swaths of the enemy now gone, you then simply have to figure out an efficient and quick way to finish off the remaining targets and move on since each stage is timed. While the controls are very responsive and you have plenty of firepower to use, it should be stressed that you really need to visit the tutorial mode first; Bangai-O: Missile fury otherwise seems impossible because you won’t know how to defend yourself properly.

While online and system link co-op are offered, the latter is uncommon to set up and playing over Xbox Live sadly has far too much lag to be worthwhile. It is technically playable but the game runs at around 20 to 35% normal speed consistently, for virtually everyone you may come across online. This makes Bangai-O HD largely a single-player affair, whose main online attraction is a level editor that lets you share creations with your friends. While the virtually useless online co-op is disappointing, it’s not a crippling blow to this game by any means. HD: Missile Fury revels in its difficulty and insane, screen-engulfing action. It is very much out to destroy the player, yet it does this to elicit a deep satisfaction when you complete a level; it’s a real rush and will no doubt have players shouting in triumph. On top of this, Bangai-O HD isn’t totally merciless and will let you skip a level if you fail it a few times in a row. This mix of intensity without being completely ruthless makes the game stand out, and it does a fine job of earning its 800 Microsoft Point/$10 USD price.

Demo Note: The author’s review was based on an immediate full copy of the game; discussion with others who played the demo first has suggested that demo players are not given the tutorial, which I find baffling because you need the tutorial (or experience with another Bangai-O game, perhaps) in order to understand how to not get killed the moment you start to play. The demo is thus, bizarrely enough, not a good indicator of the full game and you may want to read up on the controls if you plan to try a trial version.

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Our Rating for Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury Review (XBLA)
6.5 Replay
Time attack play is strongly encouraged, and the ability to build new stages may keep devoted players coming back for a little while.
6.0 Graphics
An extremely vivid and busy game screen makes it hard to follow the action, but that’s kind of the point of the game. Much of the fun comes from having so much chaos and so many explosions that you only have a vague idea of what’s going on.
6.0 Sound
It’s hard to notice much else about the music and other effects over the sounds of non-stop explosions, but at least those sound good!
8.5 Gameplay
Incredibly difficult and chaotic, but you’ll feel great when you complete a stage. The controls are very good, and later stages offer some clever design twists such as replacing the skies and missiles with tunnels full of giant ants chasing you.
3.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
Online co-op barely qualifies as functional, with the consistently game running at about 20% normal speed. System link might be more appealing if you can manage it and sharing created stages may be of some interest, but this is honestly more of a single-player game.
8.0 Overall
A very ’hardcore’ shooter that seeks to overwhelm the player but also reward them with immense satisfaction for winning, Bangai-O HD is worth picking up if you want an enjoyable challenge.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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