Review by ChrisOB

Reviewed: 10/13/02 | Updated: 10/13/02

Treasure in "excellent quirky game" shocker!

So...Bangai-O. Where to start? Well, from the first time I played the game I was impressed/bewildered/terrified at the amount of destruction being caused onscreen, by both myself and the enemy. We'll get into that more a bit later on though, first a brief summary of the game.

The plot of the game is your typical Japanese craziness (young siblings, giant robot, space pirates dealing in enormous fruits [!!!], et cetera), but plot isn't the game's strong point. What is the game's strong point is pure playability, the sheer amount of fun to be had playing is phenomenal. The whole thing is deceptively simple; those who are new to gaming may be put off or initially confused by the game's simple-looking 2D visuals and the 'Smash TV'-esque control system (D-pad to move about, the face buttons let you shoot in different directions)...this can take a little getting used to for some. Once you get used to its conventions, however, you'll be firing off 500-bullet smart bombs and reflecting lasers off walls in no time.

The use of 2D graphics is a smart decision, as this allows hundreds of sprites onscreen at once; there are times when the sheer number of enemy robots and bullets flying towards you will feel overwhelming (luckily the size of your smart bombs is determined by he amount of direct threat to you when you use them, so it's actually a plus). The art in the game may not appeal to all players, but I for one enjoyed the enemy and boss designs, and the cut-scenes are drawn in a cutesy/weird anime style that goes well with the crazy dialogue (badly translated, but in a good way). The sound is also well-done, if not quite as striking as the visuals. There are some fitting music tracks, and a couple of bizarre sound effects go a long way to maintaining the game's unique aesthetic style. One thing I should mention about the game - although the ingenuity of the level designs increases as you progress through the 40-odd levels, so does the difficulty. In fact, as much as I love the game I still haven't beaten the final boss, and I've tried dozens of times.

So all in all, I enjoyed Bangai-O a great deal. It features classic 'old-school' gameplay married to an interesting style, and also carries a big challenge. I would definitely buy this game rather than rent it; it's one of those games you can dip in and out of whenever you feel like causing some mayhem, plus a couple of days just isn't enough to beat the game. I could go back and play many of the levels over and over thanks to the huge variety of level designs (the game lets you go back to improve your scores, too - another excellent feature).

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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