Treasure is well known for building games that have easy gameplay up front, but contain vast substructures underneath that cater to an audience looking for a new level of accomplishment. Radiant Silvergun, for instance, was a space shooter in its purest form, with a deep combo system lying just underneath. In Bangai-O: Missile Fury, Treasure has taken an old franchise from its N64/ Dreamcast days and reworked it in fine form, but not without a fatal flaw - the easy gameplay portion of this feature has become rather lost.
You play as the titular Bangai-O, a near-invincible robot mech capable of unleashing missile attacks that can completely eradicate entire enemy armies with the single push of a button. This technique is quite useful, as each level will pit you against a horde of robots, ninjas, ants, turrets, and in some cases, even soccer balls - all in the name of shooting up the place in a big way. At its core, Bangai-O is a dual analog shooter, with the left stick controlling movement and the right stick controlling direction of fire. In addition, Bangai-O is equipped with a lethal counterattack that sends upwards of four thousand missiles out in all directions. There are many other abilities, such as dashing and freezing, which combine to form a fine waltz of explosions and crossfire that will send your eyes spinning out of your head.
Unfortunately, the average gamer will likely focus more on the "fury" aspect of Bangai-O and less on the missiles. The game's main mode, aptly titled Fury Mode, is punishingly difficult and makes no qualms about stuffing the player into precarious missile-ridden situations right off the bat. It is arguable that a majority of Bangai-O purchasing players will not complete more than ten stages. An extensive, 29-page tutorial is available, but the actual data contained within is difficult to grasp and utilize immediately, forcing average gamers into what seems like continuously impossible stages with strict time limits and hordes of robots with ninja swords. Perseverance, however, does pay off in spades.
Despite the brutal learning plateau, Bangai-O is extremely fun to play once you get the hang of some of the simpler concepts. Finishing stages ranks among the more satisfying accomplishments you'll garner in your gaming sessions across a lifetime. The key to unlocking the secrets of success lie in debunking the misnomer that has regretfully been attached to Bangai-O: This game is, in no way, a bullet hell shooter. In fact, in most cases, dodging bullets, missiles, and even enemy fighters is the direct opposite of the game's goal. Breaking out of the "dodging" concept and into to the "charge into the middle of the enemy base while invincible and blow em up" concept is akin to a religious revelation.
Among the more nuanced game mechanics in Missile Fury are all the different ways your mech can become completely invulnerable. Using all of these techniques in exhilarating fashion leads to some amazing, if not outright ridiculous, situations in which thousands of missiles are sent flying in every direction repeatedly. Firing off dash attacks, freeze attacks, and then wrapping it up with a menacing counterattack to liquefy a room clogged with a blinding array of enemy fire is glorious, indeed.
In fact, Bangai-O comes off more as a puzzle game than a straight shooter by the time you've worked through some of the more advanced concepts. Learning how to maximize proximity, timing, and the limits of your firepower lead to a game depth that is unmatched by most games. However, as gleefully I adore this game for what it is, it is entirely impossible to recommend outright based on its degree of difficulty and the immediate barrier of entry. A good half of the game is unfortunately locked away behind Fury Mode, which without a doubt most players will never be able to conquer based on pure difficulty. This game is not for everyone, but rather for the select few who are willing to look through the wall of missiles to find the layers of frantic fun beneath.