|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treasure||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: D3 Publisher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
I have played some hard games in my time. Chief among these impossibly hard games would have to be Shiren the Wanderer, Castlevania, and Ikaruga. But man, Bangai-O Spirits presents a real challenge, even for the most seasoned, hardcore gamer.
Let me paint a picture for you. You start the game at level one. All of a sudden, about 100 missiles come flying at you from all directions and, within about three seconds, you've failed. Oh, and there's a hysterical laugh that plays in the background, as you wonder to yourself what just happened. So, if the above sounds like a wonderful challenge to you, then Bangai-O Spirits is right up your alley. If not, then you may as well stop reading now, because this title is the very definition of hardcore gameplay.
At it's heart, Bangai-O Spirits is a pretty generic space-style shooter. But it has an insane amount of levels (about 200 in all) and each one is incredibly difficult. Of course, you don't have to go completely into Bangai-O with no knowledge of the game at all. The game has a fairly lengthy tutorial mode that thoroughly explains your controls, weapons, and even gives you some pointers in terms of strategy. However, as you may soon discover, even the tutorial may take several hours to complete, as it is quite lengthy and pretty difficult all by itself.
The gameplay is pretty basic and puts you in charge of a Gundam-style ship that is fully loaded with some serious weapons. Before you select your mission, you are able to select your singular weapons as well as two special weapons. You can equip things like napalm, homing missiles, and bounce beams to either the special or the singular slot, and you have a few specialty weapons like a baseball bat and a sword. You can also equip a shield in place of a weapon, but I am telling you now, you're better off not doing so.
Once you get a feel for the different weapons and practiced your shooting skills in tutorial mode, you may be ready to try free play mode. Never mind, I'm not sure anything could prepare you for that. All the levels are unlocked at the beginning, although the tutorial mode recommends that you begin with the first and go through linearly. Most of the levels are quite small, but the level design here is absolutely crazy. As I mentioned in the beginning, the first level is basically impossible, and consists of four rapid-fire turrets, each shooting about 25 missiles at you, and when I finally beat this level (I'm not telling you how long it took) I felt like it was more due to chance then anything else.
In addition to the standard modes, there are puzzle modes as well. If I'm being honest, I found these to be a little more forgiving in terms of immediate difficulty. I actually passed the first three in less than an hour! But, like all other aspects of this game, the difficulty ramps up rather quickly, and you'll soon find yourself banging your head against a wall.
But there was one part of the game that was able to offer a little bit of relief from the mind-numbing difficulty of the regular game. And that, of course, is the stage creator mode. The stage creator essentially lets you take all the elements that you find in normal gameplay (blocks, health, turrets, and bombs) and put them into your own little level. These can be as easy or hard as you want them to be, and the creator mechanic couldn't be simpler. You just select where you want to build, and then use the stylus to drag and drop it into place.