June 23, 2010

Playing for Time: Bangai-O Spirits

Bangai-O Spirits
Nintendo DS, 2008

I've only barely scratched the surface of this one. But oh, I am intrigued! I've played my share of games that try to convey the feeling of piloting a giant robot. And out of all those games, Bangai-O Spirits by Treasure is by far the most fun, and it's the one that gets the closest to the feeling of really, truly being in control of a sleek, bipedal, missile-spewing battle robot. It sounds weird saying that, but it's honestly the most descriptive thing I can come up with.

Like, you know how when watching anime, you see the characters going all over the screen, robots swirling and doing impossible aerial manoeuvres, missiles and pew-pew-pew lasers all over the place, explosions lighting up the screen in rapid succession, mega-destructive weapons going off left and right... You know... Hyper-kinetic action that has little or no relation to the laws of physics, common sense or modest aesthetics. It's really difficult to capture that feeling in video games even though they seem to be full of situations like that.

But Bangai-O Spirits manages to do exactly that. It's every good mecha anime action scene compressed to levels that last only seconds. And it's as much a puzzle game as it is an action game. What's not to love?

Can't make heads or tails of the picture? Think about this: you can unleash a powerful special attack more or less any time you wish. The more enemy missiles/bullets are in your vicinity, the more missiles your special attack has. The closer to you the enemy missiles/bullets are, the bigger your missiles become when launched. Every object has a 1 pixel wide tail showing it's general path. Madness ensues.

Oh, and if you build a level with the level editor, instead of sending it to your friends via wi-fi, the DS converts the level into a sound file that you can play near another DS's microphone, transferring the data between the two devices as sound. Like old Commodore 64 cassettes. Awesome! And not least because it's a feature clearly implemented as a novelty. The wi-fi transfer would have been faster and likely easier to code.

The game is going dirt-cheap in Amazon, and I heartily recommend you play it. For further persuasion, see Tiny Cartridge's gem of a post.

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