Destroy everything in sight! (But leave the fruit alone.) - by Mr. Domino
Probably one of the oddest images I've ever seen in a game was the depiction
of a huge mech holding a watermelon, from the original Nintendo 64 version of
Bakaretsu Muteki Bangaioh. In typical Treasure fashion, the game was a wacky anime-styled
bonanza of action and mayhem, loaded with plenty of shooting fun. I rushed (well, went online)
to procure my copy of the game, since it was limited to a run of only 10,000. That's a drop in
the pond for a video game, and I didn't want to miss out on Bangaioh like I had on certain
other Treasure games in the past. However, shortly after I had acquired the cart, Treasure
announced an enhanced port to be available for the Dreamcast. Needless to say, I was mad.
Why? Well, I had just bought an N64 game for 80 something bucks, and it was
going to be eclipsed with a better version (and cheaper, to boot) in just a few
months! Of course, I was still happy to get the game, especially considering how great
it turned out to be. It's just that now,
people everywhere can buy a better Dreamcast version. Well, assuming you can
acquire the increasingly difficult-to-find import.
Thankfully and quite stunningly, Bakaretsu Muteki Bangaioh is being
released in the US courtesy of Classified Games. Of all the Japanese games which
have yet to be released abroad, who would have thought a quirky shooter with tiny
sprites and challenging gameplay would be picked up? Is there a market
for this? Let's hope so, because Bangai-O (that's the US title) is a terrifically
That speck in the center of the screen? That's Bangai-O, your hundred foot tall mech.
Look a bit busy? This is nothing!
Players take control of a huge mech with the intent to take on an intergalactic fruit smuggling gang and thwart their evil plans, which amounts to destroying everything in sight like you would in any good shooter. Hidden within houses, vehicles, and enemies (so that's just about everything, actually) are fruit items, which can be collected to increase the player's score. While the N64 game used the fruit to power-up a special super attack meter, which could hold up to 10 charages. Here in the Dreamcast version, your super attack is charged simply by creating huge explosions. It works out nicely -- the more carnage you create, the more super bombs you can set off. However, this time you're limited to carrying only five super attacks at any one time.
Defeating the enemies and overcoming the obstacles requires skillful use
of your pilots, Riki and Mami. With a touch of a button the Bangai-O's
pilots will switch positions, which alters the weapon being fired. Riki will
shoot powerful homing missiles while Mami relies on a straight laser which
reflects off of walls. Also, some of the game's 40+ levels feature walls which will
only let a certain kind of shot to pass through, adding some puzzle elements to
what is otherwise a straight festival of destruction.
The focus is on scoring. The more explosions you cause, the more points you get.
This early translation is alternately hilarious and non-sensical.
Bangai-O's most destructive weapon is a sight to behold, as it lets loose up
to 400 shots at once. All of the chaos is drawn and
animated perfectly. Although some may scoff at the small graphics used throughout
the game, there really is no other way to fit the sheer amount of stuff
being thrown at the player on a single screen. You'll soon find yourself
careening around waves of shots, missiles, teams of enemy mechs, and other stuff
without even batting an eye. There has never been a more chaotic game, which is
what makes Bangai-O's US release such a treat.
A lot of the chaos comes from the fact that you're often put right in
the center of the action. Much like Robotron, there's constant, impending doom from all sides. In just about any other game you'd be toast, but not here. Bangai-O's control scheme relies a lot on Robotron's, which allows players to both evade enemy fire and attack in any of the eight directions. The D-pad controls the movement of your mech, while the Dreamcast buttons shoot your pilot's gun. The triggers are used to swap pilots and launch the super attack. The control is perfect for the game, and at last people can really feel like they're controlling a mech without any expensive Dreamcast twinsticks.
I would have never have dreamed that Bangai-O would have an enhanced
port made when it was first announced, let alone a version released in the US.
It's been a long wait, but I'm sure it'll be well worth it. If you have any
interest in action games, shooters, mechs, or quirky games in general, you'll be
inclined to agree. Do yourself a favor and check out Bangai-O when it comes out
Next: More screenshots, and some movies!