PAX impressions / Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury

While I don’t usually like using this term to describe anything videogame related, there’s only one word that describes Japanese developer Treasure: hardcore. The company has been producing insanely difficult shmups and side-scrollers like Ikaruga and Gunstar Heroes for years now, but one of their lesser known franchises is Bangai-O. The franchise made its first official stateside release a few years back with Bangai-O Spirits on DS, and now they’re putting the final touches on another completely bonkers entry in the series entitled Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury.

In the Bangai-O games, you play as a tiny little mech with a whole lot of firepower. It’s a 2D game where you fly around a big maze full of all kinds of missile turrets, giant spaceships, spikeballs, and fellow mechs all trying to kill you. It’s a series known for its punishing difficulty, and D3 producer Jim Ramish wouldn’t have it any other way. “There’s only one difficulty: Treasure,” he said when asked if the game would have multiple difficulty settings.

The first thing fellow Bangai-O fans will notice with Bangai-O HD is the HD part of it. The game looks great, with beaming colors everywhere and a rock solid framerate, which the series has been desperately in need of since its inception on the Nintendo 64. In fact, the framerate boost actually makes the game more difficult. Bangai-O is a game with hundreds of things flying around the screen at once, and the slow motion that would ensue in the chaos could be used to your advantage in prior entries in the series, but that isn’t the case here.

Bangai-O HD features 110 levels. 50 of them are included in the game’s story mode, and the other 60 are unlocked after finishing the campaign, which includes the super difficult levels on top of some classic maps. The game will also feature a detailed level editor, but no word if they will be transferable via static sound waves a la Bangai-O Spirits on the DS.

The general wackiness that makes the series so charming is still in place here. Baseball bats are still a viable weapon, and you still collect various fruits to build up your score. This is one of those franchises that’s beloved by the fourteen or so people that play it on a regular basis, and as one of those fourteen people, I can say that Missile Fury is shaping up to be another excellent entry in the series.

D3 Publisher is shooting for a November release exclusively on the Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MS Points, which seems like a lot of bang for your buck.