Bangai-O HD is the third installment in Treasure's tactile, missile-focused focused series, developed solely for the Xbox 360. Like in previous entries in the series, players are tasked with piloting a flying robot in order to complete each level despite seemingly impossible odds, often in the forms of heavy artillery fire and missile from the enemy. The specific equipment and weapons that the robot has at its disposal vary from level-to-level, therefore accenting the main combat-oriented gameplay with puzzle elements, although the one universal constant is that the player, too, can fire a barrage of missiles back at the enemies, the number, size, and characteristics of which are dependent on the circumstances. Like the previous game, Bangai-O Spirits, Bangai-O HD features a level editor that ties into Xbox Live for sharing purposes. A co-op mode is also included in the game.
Although previous installments in the Bangai-O series have suffered from significant frame-rate drops during intensive, sprite-heavy sequences, Bangai-O seeks to rectify that by utilizing the greater power the Xbox 360 compared to that of Nintendo 64, DS, and Dreamcast. As a result of that, Bangai-O HD is the first in the series to achieve a stable frame rate, even when the action is heavy and intense with missiles flying everywhere. Players are therefore able to fire up to 1000 missiles simultaneously at any given time, with the game in general able to handle 5000 objects on the screen in total.
The main mode of the game consists of 47 challenging stages, each which different goals and limitations. Some stages require the destruction of all enemies, while others only require destruction of specific targets or the completion of tasks, such as pushing blocks into predetermined locations. In addition, these goals must be completed in the amount of time given for each stage, and this factor often comes into play.
Bangai-O can shoot in 360 degrees. Enemies within the visible blue circle around Bangai-O take double damage and enemies within the smaller yellow circle take triple damage. This simple risk/reward system requires the player to be closer to enemies in order to inflict more damage faster.
EX Gauge & Fruit
Destroying enemies and objects in each stage will yield fruit. For each fruit obtained, Bangai-O's EX Gauge will increase. The amount it increases is determined by the type of fruit collected, and the type of fruit yielded is based on the difficulty of the target destroyed. Many stages require strategic fruit collecting in order to build the EX Gauge quickly, or in difficult circumstances.
The EX Counterattack is Bangai-O's main advantage against the enemy. Activating EX Counterattack Mode will make Bangai-O invincible during its charging phase, and a charge counter will begin to count up from 0 to 100. When the counter hits 100, Bangai-O will immediately begin to take damage from all attackers, however the higher this number is when EX Mode is released, the larger the counterattack will be. This again stresses the risk/reward gameplay - holding the button longer increases the chances of accidentally losing invincibility and meeting certain death. Use of the EX Counterattack uses one point on the EX Gauge.
Upon releasing the left trigger to leave charging phase, the power of Bangai-O's counterattack is unleashed in a 360-degree barrage of missiles. The amount of missiles deployed is determined by the amount of targets and enemy fire within close proximity, and also the amount on the charge counter when charging phase was ended. Also, by holding in a specific direction, the 360-degree attack can instead be focused in one direction.
By using the right trigger during the charging phase, Bangai-O will increase its Counterattack Multiplier. Each increase of this counter costs one more EX Gauge use, and immediately resets the invincibility counter to zero. Depending on what Bangai-O's multiplier is set, the amount of missiles released will be multiplied by that number. Releasing a EX Counterattack x4 is particularly powerful and can decimate large areas of levels with one blow.
When Bangai-O has an EX Gauge of 5 or higher, it can activate MAX Attack mode. This mode will make Bangai-O completely invincible, with heightened speed and attack power, as well as an automatically maxed out EX Counterattack ability. The EX Gauge will quickly deplete and the mode ends either when the gauge is completely empty, or the player initiates the EX Counterattack. Upon exiting this mode, Bangai-O will be unable to move or shoot for a short duration, making MAX Attack mode a last resort ability.
A second gauge tracks the amount of uses of Dash Attacks and Freeze Attacks available. Each time one of these two attacks is initiated, the meter is reduced by one. After completing the most recent dash or freeze, the meter will completely recharge after a duration of three seconds (unless a new dash or freeze is initiated). The Dash Gauge will also completely recharge immediately following any EX Counterattack.
Dashing makes Bangai-O invulnerable to most attacks, and he can also use it to inflict damage on enemies and even reflect back some projectiles. Each use of the Dash uses one point on the Dash Meter. Proper use of dashing is arguably one of the most important facets of Bangai-O gameplay.
By pressing the dash button while not moving, Bangai-O will initiate a Freeze Attack that will immobilize all enemies within the yellow counter circle. Many enemies that have the ability to reflect or neutralize missile attacks can be eliminated by freezing them first. Each use of the Freeze Attack uses one point on the Dash Meter.
Each stage begins with two predetermined weapon types, however many stages have weapon icons that can be retrieved on the field that will replace your currently selected weapon. Switching between weapon types on the fly depending on the situation at hand is an important part of Bangai-O's level design.
- Normal - Missiles fire straight ahead.
- Homing - Missiles will home in on enemies within the visible blue lock-on circle.
- Bounce - bullets will reflect off walls in the direction of locked-on enemies.
- Napalm - Ultra-powerful exploding bullets with a very slow recharge rate.
- Break - Capable of destroying incoming enemy fire.
- Fast - Missiles fire with increased speed.
- Wide - A five missile spread attack.