Bangai-O Spirits Hands-On Impressions

bangai_o_spirits_tgs07.jpgTreasure's Nintendo DS sequel to the offbeat Dreamcast/Nintendo 64 shooter Bangai-O was available to play at a single kiosk at D3 Publisher's TGS booth. Just one Nintendo DS! It almost seems criminal. Clearly D3 underestimates the rabid demand for this fruit collecting puzzle-shooter sequel to the game that sold well into the tens of thousands. However, despite the broad appeal of shooting stuff, Bangai-O Spirits was surprisingly simple to get your hands on at Tokyo Game Show. Wrapping one's brain around the concept may take a bit more work. The on-floor demo was very much a debug affair. Players could choose from a number of levels, customising their weapon load out—choosing from napalm, bound shots, bat, sword and more—then have at it. In the Bangai-O fashion, bazillions of bullets fill the screen, as your tiny sprite of a mech constantly unloads on everything in sight. You'll chain destructive combos as you lay waste to every hapless sentry and mounted cannon.

Spirits felt much more like a puzzle game than its predecessor, challenging players to sort out which weapons and how they're used to reach the end of each level. One area, Level 4, in particular involved a race against gravity as a chain sequence of explosives cause impassable blocks to block your progression.

The action all takes place on the Nintendo DS's lower screen, with the top screen sadly dedicated to a crude map of the level. Graphically, there's not much to write home about, but fans of bullet and missile barrages will appreciate the massive amounts of stuff on screen.

Bangai-O Spirits looks a little rough around the edges at this point, but I expect Treasure will ultimately deliver a solid product.


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