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Anyone remember that game Hard Corps: Uprising that came out a few months ago? You know, that game that constantly gift wrapped your ass and handed it to you over and over again. Well, you get a similar feeling while playing Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury upon starting it up. This game is absolutely insane at first, and the "Missile Fury" part of the title should be taken extremely literally. While early experiences with this game are likely to turn off most players, there are really only a couple things you need to learn in order to be able to have a lot of fun with this game.
If there’s supposed to be a story in Bangai-O then I must have missed it. All I could get from the game is that there is a guy who gives you orders to destroy stuff in the levels you play through. That really doesn’t matter since this isn’t a game that is interested in telling a compelling tale. What it is interested in, though, is providing you with the most insane twin stick shooter experience you’re likely to ever have. One thing that really makes this game stand out is that you’re not just moving around in a confined area like most other games of this kind. The levels are constructed in ways so that you’re actually progressing though an environment rather than just orbiting the same loop over and over again. The mechanics of the game are super tight and the controls feel just right. The biggest technical issue lies in the frame rate: it can literally die when things get hectic, which they often do, but it acts more as a break from the insanity rather than a serious issue.
If you can count how many missiles that are in this shot... you get the idea.
Bangai-O contains the usual game modes you have come to expect from a twin stick shooter, including a very badly put together tutorial and fury mode, which can be played cooperatively only online, but no local co-op is a bit disappointing. There is also a level editor included, something which you don’t see much of these days, and you can create levels and upload them through Xbox Live or you can also download and edit existing levels. While the interface will take some getting used to as it isn’t exactly user friendly, the potential for this inclusion scores this game huge points; it’s something that every game like this should have and rarely does. Fury mode is essentially the campaign and it seems brutally difficult at first, but once you figure out how to use your counters and dash moves effectively, the focus quickly shifts from survival to getting points. You have a set time to complete a level; enemies won’t stop spawning until you destroy their spawners, but they will always give you points and add to your combo. This creates a very dynamic experience when you’re going for a high score as it forces you to find that perfect balance between progress and kill farming.
The main thing Bangai-O seems to be aiming for is the most unrelenting gameplay for this genre. Believe me when I say that you will have to keep track of literally hundreds of missiles and enemies all while staying alive and choosing the right time to execute the right moves. For the most part this is usually challenging for all the right reasons. However, in the later levels it becomes literally impossible to see where you are because the sheer swarm of enemy projectiles coming at you. While you are equipped with the means necessary in order to counter this, it’s something that is an instant turn off for people who aren’t veterans of this kind of game. That being said, it is clear that this game is not aimed for anyone else, but that doesn’t excuse this problem as it becomes extremely frustrating later in the game. The other main flaw in the gameplay is that there are occasions where it is almost unavoidable to take damage in order to complete the necessary task. This happens all too often during a particular stage and gets old very quickly. Fortunately, if you die three times on a single level, you unlock the next one, which ensures you’re not grinding on the same level for too long.
Bangai-O is a fun game, make no mistake about that, the word insane doesn’t even begin to cover it. There is something incredibly thrilling about dodging hundreds of missiles and countering that by firing thousands of your own and watching everything around you explode; it really gives you a sense of power. While there are a couple of flaws in the core gameplay, they don’t detract enough to not recommend this title to the usual suspects. Even if you’re not into this kind of game, it’s worth checking out to see the sheer insanity of it. Bangai-O feels like it is trying to push the twin stick shooter forward by crafting what has to be the most insane gameplay in the genre to date and the drastically different level designs create an experience that is definitely worth your time.