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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Review: Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury (XBLA)

Everyone loves flying robots, but what happens when you give one a fruit fetish and thousands of missiles? Apparently, you get one of the finest experiences on the Xbox Live Arcade and a thrilling soundtrack. Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury takes the series to new heights in this thrilling 2D shooter from Treasure.

Ok, this game is nuts


What is the essence of Bangai-O? You pilot a tiny robot fighter through missile-crammed stages, while using an array of weapons to dispose of enemies...and collect fruit. Yes, you read that correctly; fruit increases Bangai-O’s power. Each level in Bangai-O is rather unique. Some stages require you to use brute force and reflexes, several necessitate strategy, and a handful are brain-numbing puzzles. You are equipped with two pre-determined weapons that suit the task at hand (or inconvenience you for difficulty’s sake) and occasionally some of your moves will be disabled. When all is said and done, the highlight of the game is firing literally 1000 missiles to get out of a tight situation, then feeling this bizarre sense of  dread since numerous enemies are still alive and their fire is about to hit you.

The game ultimately has a hell of a lot of variety, with each stage feeling like the only one of its kind. The diversity of enemies also goes a long way towards keeping things fresh, since each level seems to have a new robot with an attack you’ve never seen.

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the controls take a considerable amount of time to adjust to, chiefly for fans of the DS and Dreamcast releases. Though some may falsely perceive Bangai-O as just “a 2D shooter with a lot of missiles flying”, the game uses nearly every button on the Xbox 360 controller. Once you finally wrap your head around the button scheme though, you soon discover how versatile and functional it is. Without a doubt, I can say this Missile Fury has the most practical control scheme featured in a modern 2D shooter. The HUD (heads up display) also displays vital information at the top of the screen, so you can tell whether you have enough power to fire an onslaught of missiles at your foes.

Yes. Thousands of missiles. Takes bullet hell to a whole new level

In terms of content, you have a three level tutorial mode and over 100 levels to satisfy your urge to annihilate. Due to the high dose of difficulty present in each level, you’re unlikely to complete them consecutively without dying, making the game last well over 10 hours. It’s worth noting that if you fail a stage three times, you can opt to move onto the next level.

If the 100+ levels will not satisfy you, you can create and trade your own brutal levels with your friends to determine who the bigger masochist is. While the interface lacks the ease of use featured in the DS version, it still remains fully-featured. It’s a real shame that there isn’t an online database where people can download levels, but it’s understandable considering the company’s budget. So long as you have your friends added on Xbox Live, you can swap levels to your heart’s content.

If you’re still not content with that amount of content, there’s even an online multiplayer mode. That said, it’s not the best. The lobby is absolutely barren as of the time of this writing, so it’s unlikely you’ll find anyone to play with. Even on the off chance that you do, lag tends to overrun any level of contentment, so it’s highly recommended that you give this mode a pass.

The difficulty level is huge, but you'll have a blast anyway



As the title implies, the game is featured in high definition and looks downright gorgeous. While the DS would choke and slow to a crawl when there were over 300 missiles on the screen, Missile Fury utilizes the 360’s superior hardware to display over 1000 individually rendered missiles (as well as numerous enemies) with decidedly less lag. This makes the game considerably harder since the DS version allowed players to exploit the slowdown, but Missile Fury gives much less of that luxury.

Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is the antithesis of grandma’s Saturday night Tetris party. Featuring complex controls, a steep learning curve, high doses of difficulty, and loads of fruit, the game is not for the faint of heart or those with poor reflexes. However, any gamer who enjoys a challenge needs to purchase Treasure’s latest masterpiece. The flaws are utterly forgivable and do nothing to tarnish the game’s arcade-style addictiveness. If you consider yourself hardcore, grab $US10 and suit up for one of 2011’s best titles.

- Clark A


Review: Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury (XBLA)
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