After playing a game like Bangai-O, it really puts a spotlight on the fact that there are some very different types of gamers out there. Extremely rare is the disc that can please all (or even most) gamers, and Bangai-O is a perfect example of the type of title which clearly tells you which type of player you are since it strikes me as a "love it or hate it" type of affair. While Im not attempting to label Ben in any way, I will categorically put myself into the "Does Not Like Bangai-O" column.
For starters, Id hesitate to place the graphics into the 32-bit realm. 16-bit hits closer to the mark if you ask me. While the amount of sprites onscreen simultaneously is truly amazing with very little slowdown, the game basically looks like something that would have been unimpressive even on the Super NES. I realize that being "old-school" is cool these days, but the tiny, microscopic visuals are taking it to an unwelcome extreme.
I definitely agree with Ben when he says that Bangai-O plays a lot like Robotron or even Smash T.V., but the control of either of those classic games is better due to the dual-stick setup. While it gets by using the Dreamcasts control pad buttons, another stick is badly needed to make the game as smooth and as natural as a fast shooter like this needs to be. Considering the fact that enemies can and do attack from every direction, I felt that using the face buttons just didnt cut it, and prevented the game from getting to that "natural, no thought required" level of control.
As far as the rest of the game goes, its pure and simple blasting action. While some gamers out there may crave this stuff, I lost interest extremely quick, and I dont see very many of todays gamers really getting into this unless theyre looking for super-super-retro action like something dredged up from the older days of videogaming. There are bombs, there are lasers, there is fruit to collect like something out of Pac-Man, and there are a massive amount of enemies, but so what? While I can and do enjoy something that is faster-paced and doesnt have the story content of an RPG, Bangai-O just did not click with me on any level at all.
I found the mistranslated-badly-on-purpose dialogue to be irritating and pointless, the gameplay was repetitive and boring, and there really wasnt anything here to keep me hooked enough or even vaguely interested to see more. Perhaps Im not "hardcore" enough, but I really have no clue why this game was brought over to the United States except to sell copies to people who heard misleading information from import fans.
In my opinion, nine out of 10 times when a game from Japan doesnt get released domestically theres an extremely good reason for it. Sure, once in a while a gem like Policenauts or something similar will be inexplicably left behind, but the majority of calls made by localization companies are good ones. Id be willing to bet that if Treasures name wasnt on this game, theres no way it would have ever had a snowballs chance of getting released over here. Treasure fanatics or people who crave nothing but button-pushing action might get a few yuks out of Bangai-O after rescuing it from a bargain bin somewhere, but the amount of enjoyment here for the average gamer is extremely low, and nil for me. Ill pass, thanks.