- Original release year: 1999
- Consoles: N64, Dreamcast
Bangai-O is a highly addictive 8-directional, 2D shoot em up and the above image does an excellent job of representing what the gameplay consists of. Fucking crazy-ass explosions and lots of them.
The main emphasis of the game is to blow up everything in your path, switching between the two weapons in the game, lasers that bounce off the walls and homing missiles. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and add an element of tactics into the mix. And there’s also the Super Bomb attack that releases a cluster of shots in every direction. Each level in the game is more or less open and the puzzle of the game is trying to find the best path to take, how to pick off your targets and find your way to the boss.
The great thing about Bangai-O is, as well as its simplicity and fun, is it controls like a dream. You fly around the levels with the d-pad, using the four face buttons to shoot in 8 different directions. The R trigger is used to charge your shot and the L trigger switches between the wall-bouncing lasers and homing missiles. Every level is like a puzzle, with most being fairly open. You need to find your way to the end goal, which is more often than not, is an end boss. Along the way, there’s lots enemies, wall guns and enemy-generating-pods that you will need to destroy.
Treasure really went all out with this gem of a game. The action is always fast and furious, but also has plenty of depth and longevity. The difficulty gets absolutely insane in the later stages, but you know what? It never feels impossible. You just have to work out the best path(s) and best strategy. The N64 version was only released in Japan, but the Dreamcast version was released worldwide and is the most well known version. I’ve only played the Dreamcast game, personally and I love it.