Let’s get one thing straight right from the fucking start: this game is SERIOUSLY FUCKING INCREDIBLE. I’ve only played the Dreamcast version before and even though outright wankers will INSIST that the N64 version is the definitive one, the number of proponents who’ve actually played it is easily around 5%. If you’re an absolute cunt, then you’ll claim to have 1cced Hover Attack on a crumbly Sharp home computer, but very few people are that fucking up themselves to try and blag it. Everyone knows the DC version was the one that most people played. It also had the best manual you’ve ever fucking read, but that’s another story entirely.
Bangai-o spirits is, essentially, some mad tribute to hombrew games taking place in actual gaming heaven. It’s as if Treasure is paying huge fan service to one of its own titles in the cheapest way possible and, as you can probably imagine, this makes Bangai-O Spirits a monumentally awesome affair. It’s one thing to have a game that’s a nicely expanded update to an underrated classic, but it’s another thing entirely to discover it’s not only 50 times more badass, but 50 times more spastic as well.
First off, it’s got hundreds of levels, most of which are so brutally hard you will cry, and a fucking sweet level editor for infinite replayability. It’s also got a bunch of new weapons. Now, diehards get fucking upset about this, mostly because it upsets the purity and balance of the original’s weapon set, but this isn’t Halo, motherfuckers. It’s Japanese robot death and purabalance of weapon sets isn’t even on the agenda. Treasure’s climbed right to the fucking top of that pinnacle with the inter-related delights of Radiant Silvergun’s armoury and then taken it to a whole new level of mad purity with Ikaruga. They don’t need to show restraint. They need to add baseball bats and napalm. Which is exactly what they did. Crowning off the new sexiness that SERIOUSLY TRIPLE AWESOME trick with the mic and speaker for transferring levels (they sound more like a C64 than a Spectrum).
As a footnote to the package, you know that features like that are beyond special. They push the game into a whole new realm of superlative-redundant incrediblocity, where words are replaced with intense feelings and hazy images and this one is FULL OF LOVE. The kind of love you get when you just meet someone through work and some mad shit goes down in that first handshake, fucking your mind up to the point where you’re too scared to ask them out because they’re so scared about you not asking them out that they can barely talk to you, and you end up being the same way because they’re barely talking to you and wtf does that mean when there’s so much on the line so fucking quickly. Except Bangai-O Spirits doesn’t do that when you meet it. It punches you in the face, but you fucking love it for doing that and then it calls you when you want it to, flirts constantly and buys you gifts from its own intuition that are exactly what you fucking want, but didn’t know it. Then it pays for the best dinner you ever had and turns out to have exactly the same sexual quirks as you and the most perfect primary and secondary sexual characteristics you’ve ever fucking seen.
That might be a bit of a complex analogy to grasp, so let’s just say an average level is supposed to go something like this:
* Start, lots of bullets arrive, homing in on you
* You instinctively press R to charge an EX attack
* Just before the bullets hit you, you let the EX attack rip
* Screen fills with fucking madness
* EVERYBODY DIES APART FROM YOU
Now if you’re lucky, some motherfuckers will rebound your EX attack. Those cunts might think they’re being pretty clever, but really they’re even more fucked than they were before. Why? Because you can launch another EX attack and re-rebound their evil trickery back at them. They might send them back again, but fuck that shit because you and EX it back forever, provided you have the charge. The technical term for this is “FUCK YEAH BANGAI-O!” and if you manage to get three in, you will be shitting bricks. Mostly because your bullets are now fucking gigantic pixelated deathsprites, but also because everything will die at such a rate that time itself slows to a standstill. That’s one of the most beautiful things about this solid-gold joyfest; that it has absolutely no shame about bringing the DS to its knees. Got 200 bullets and 50 enemies on screen? NO PROBLEM. LET’S DOUBLE EVERYTHING AND MAKE IT BIGGER. Fuck the framerate, Bangai-o’s got killing to do. 1.5 FPS is a goal to strive for in this game, not a technical issue. It’s you, the player, forcing the hardware to buckle under your power because you’ve just EXed a rebound from a huge robot for the fourth time, and on this one you know the distance/reaction equation is going to work out with that motherfucker DEAD and you reaping all the fruit that remains behind. Aside the game’s central Ex Attack spamfest, there’s also the incredible awesomeness of the baseball bat - a new addition to Bangai-o’s arsenal and the definitive weapon for mashing up any cunt who fucks you off. If there’s one thing Bangai-o needed, it was the ability to knock soccerballs into the fray and then chase after them to knock any survivors against walls for rebound bat-thwack kills. That shit is pure poetry, yo.
But hey - make no mistake. Bangai-o Spirits is serious business and it will totally rape you, but then you’ll realise that’s because you’re WEAK and the game is STRONG. Mostly it’s because you’ve not mastered the EX/dash-for-fruit mechanic that allows you near-infinite EX attacks, provided there are enemies to milk, so you’ll pick this up pretty quickly and soon be screaming MOAR! MOAR! At the DS as each level falls. This is unbridled gaming joy in its purest, finest form. Gleefully delirious mayhem as it fucking should be.
<3 / 10