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Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury

Score: 87%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: D3
Developer: Treasure
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Although I usually don't bang the drum for "The way games used to be," Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is a great example of the type of repayable challenge that kept a constant stream of quarters dropping into arcade machines. It's hard, but wonderfully rewarding.

All you have to do is look at a screenshot to know Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is a challenge. The screen is littered with crap flying towards your tiny mech. It's pure chaos, yet oddly enough, you can always tell exactly where you are on the screen at all times. Sure, this is usually because you're the sole convergence point for everything on the screen... but that's beside the point. The amount of stuff crammed on the screen is impressive, especially when you consider the lack of slowdown.

Audio is less of an issue. It's there, it's loud and you probably won't notice it once you start dodging bullets.


Gameplay:

Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury doesn't even pretend to follow a plot. You're a mech that is dropped into a series of short levels filled to the brim with missiles, bullets and anything else enemies can toss at you (including fruit!). The idea is liberating in that it allows you to create your own narrative based on how you complete the level. Although a bullet-hell shooter by design, Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury feels more like a puzzle game. Though level objectives usually boil down to "Destroy Everything," each presents you with a different set of circumstances that need to be figured out before you can proceed towards your goal.

Level design is varied, which is one of Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury's greatest strengths. Some drop you into wide-open fields while others feature tight, closed-quarters fire fights. Most stages can be completed in under a minute, though with the amount of time you'll spend teasing out solutions to each level, those "One Minute Levels" can stretch out for a few hours, if not weeks. Levels can be tackled either solo or in co-op. Local co-op games are a blast, even if the added player adds even more craziness to the playfield. Online matches are available, though hard to find.

Similar to past games, Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury also includes a level editor. Although the editor offers a wide-range of possibilities, the interface is unintuitive and hard to use. Even with the aid of Google searches, just placing walls was a pain. I eventually lost patience with the system, but the tools are there if you want them.


Difficulty:

Similar to other bullet-hell shooters, you're greeted with a curtain of bullets almost immediately after a level starts in Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury. Wading through everything on the screen is hard, though it's fun and never punishing. After three deaths, the next level is opened. Although you don't get credit for completing the level, it at least allows you to keep moving in some sort of direction. There's never a moment where you feel "stuck."

The downside is the poorly handled difficulty curve, which leaves a couple of big gaps in your leaderboard and a somewhat empty sense of progression. Although skills carry over between levels, the connection is disjointed, leading to a lot of single-level trial-and-error rather than a building up of core skills.


Game Mechanics:

Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury's core mechanics are easy to grasp, especially if you are familiar with other dual-stick shooters, like Geometry Wars. You navigate levels using the left stick, while the right stick lets you shoot in multiple directions around your mech. Two rings surround your mech, determining weapons damage. Enemies in the outer ring take double damage, while those in the inner ring take triple damage. The setup offers an interesting trade-off; increased damage for less protection.

Just moving and shooting will only get you through the first level. To get any further, you'll need to master your mech's advanced moves. Dashes grant temporary invincibility, allowing you to crash into enemies, while a Freeze attack stops anything around you. As you blast through enemies, you'll slowly charge up an EX meter, granting use of a devastating Counter Attack that surrounds your mech in a ring of missiles.

Just knowing how to use weapons is a sure way to a quick death; it's more important to know when to use certain abilities. Both the Dash and Freeze draw from the same bar, so you can't spam the two moves constantly. Additionally, some levels will tweak your abilities. Sometimes your EX gauge refills at twice the speed, while other times you're cut off from certain abilities. The switch-ups add a deeper level of strategy, causing the game to feel more like a puzzle game than a shooter.

Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is a great example of the challenge missing from many games. It's hard - almost too hard - which will scare away a lot of players. At the same time, if you're up for the challenge (and patient), Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is an incredibly rewarding experience.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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