Bangai-O Spirits Preview

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Publisher: D3Publisher of America
Developer: Treasure
Platform: DS

Bangai-O is an arcade-style shooter that anyone with a Dreamcast remembers fondly. Within the next few months, DS gamers will get to relive that classic shooting experience in a new version of the game, from the same developer (Treasure), that is best thought of as a re-imagining of the classic shooter than a sequel.

Projected Release: 2nd Quarter of 2008
Kyle Ackerman

As anyone who played the original Bangai-O (or one of their many other games, like Ikaruga) knows, arcade-style shooters are the core of Treasure's strength as a developer. Treasure knows what makes action gamers tick, and manages to perfectly present old-school platforming shooters that are both obsessively entertaining and challenging for even the most accomplished gamers.


The premise of Bangai-O Spirits, a revisitation of the classic Dreamcast game Bangai-O, is simple: kill space pirates and gather space fruit. Why space fruit? Why do scurvy space dogs, armed to the teeth with the latest death-dealing devices, carry apples nearly as large as they are? You don't have to care. You just have to appreciate the complex and engaging action that every level in Bangai-O Spirits promises.

Treasure has clearly spent its time honing the game engine used for Bangai-O Spirits so that the levels will always be filled with action. On top of the player's character and several enemies, I could often see 40 or 50 projectiles on the screen, each tracking the player and creating the kind of soup of death that Treasure is known for and makes it so satisfying to face wave upon wave of deadly weapons.

The game is set up so that most of the action takes place on the lower DS screen, using conventional arcade-style controls. The stylus is only useful for navigating menus – the buttons and D-pad are what you need to face hordes of enemies. The upper DS screen shows players a map of the level, complete with the locations of switches that need to be thrown and the locations of other players.

Your character in Bangai-O Spirits is extremely customizable, with nine weapons to choose from. You'll be able to select the weapons that fit your play style, including a sword, shield, guns and bouncing shots. You can also customize the devastating special attacks that are powered up by collecting space fruit, so that your "smart bomb"-equivalent does something that fits your personal style. Depending on your weapon, you can block or shoot incoming shots. Since your enemies can do the same, play is frantic and dynamic.

There's one final hook for Bangai-O Spirits: players can create and share their own levels. I got to spend time with the level editor, which is straightforward and intuitive. Interestingly, Treasure is not using the DS WiFi connection to share levels. Instead, Bangai-O Spirits uses "Sound Load." Like a traditional modem, Bangai-O Spirits will translate your level into a sequence of sounds that can be transmitted to another DS by holding your speakers or headphones in front of the microphone of another DS. That will make level exchanges a lot more personal.

Bangai-O Spirits should be released in Japan shortly, and in North America some time before June 30. Treasure plans to keep making levels for the North American version even after Bangai-O Spirits ships in Japan, so North American gamers should get even more content than their Japanese counterparts.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on February 28, 2008 8:13 PM.

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