Treasure is one of my most favorite game developers ever, and for very good reasons. They provided great niche titles that spat in the face of convetion, providing new experiences for seasoned gamers (Ikaruga, Gunstar Heroes, etc). There games are however overlooked, for all the cookie cutter rehashes of the norm, but Treasure continues to serve up its fans games that are made to provide entertainment and challenge, and the kind of experiences you won't get anywhere else.
One of Treasure's latest was Bangai-O Spirits, the revival of the cult classic N64 (if you imported it) and Dreamcast Shoot em up. No, actually, the term "shoot em up" doesn't do this game justice. When you come to grips with the quirkiness of the package, and the difficulty, you'll understand what makes this game so fun, as well being referred to as "Bullet Hell."
Everything is 2D, and doesn't create anything 3D. Also, you know that mention in the last paragraph I made about "bullet hell?" Well, here's a frame for reference as to what I mean.
And that's only a part of what can happen. Everything that you fire, and the enemies fire, and what ever the hell decides to fire, will fill up the screen, making this game easy to slowdown. With so much missles, don't be surprised by lag. Infact, it's a sort of benefit, given how fast everything is supposed to move. It actually gives you some time to think, but sometimes it can get WAY to much. You'll come across parts where large, pixelated bullets will obscure your location on screen.
Other than that, it's still 2D pixels. Nothing really jaw dropping, but not ugly either.
Actually, there really isn't so much of a story. There is a tutorial mode where you get to see some of the characters. There's Kuri, a pink haired, cheerful young girl, and Masato, a cool looking but impatient young boy, as well as a quirky professor who gives the two instructions on how to pilot the Bangai-O. The tutorial will sometimes break the fourth wall, such as saying "not all projectiles will appear onscreen due to the screen's limitations" or the legend that Bangai-O is running amuck in the industry, leaving them in danger of being cut from their sponsors, which Masato replies "I don't get it."
It doesn't really take itself seriously, but after the tutorial, there pretty much is no storyline. The previous Bangai-O actually had a story for itself, although it was still quirky. Presentation is rather basic, and after the tutorial, you're free to play through the 160+ levels in any order as you please. However, this can leave people wondering which stage to do first. That's because there is no actually progression in difficulty, as they're all punishing right off the bat. Storyline and Presentation (as well as lack of structure) are not this game's strong points.
If you've played any of Treasure's past games, their games have featured unconventional control schemes, as part of their uniqueness. This one's no different. While you control the Bangai-O with the D-Pad in any direction and use the A button to boost, you have four attack buttons: B, Y (or X, both have the same function), R, and L. When choosing a level, you can select two normal weapons and two EX weapons. That latter are insanely powerful, realeasing hundreds of missles on screen, which are helpful in clearing out obstacles or if you're surrounded. These weapons can be mixed or used separately (press B and Y or R and L simultaneously to mix or unmix the respective weapon types).
There are other control strategies that you must master, first and foremost how to aim. If you press any of the attack buttons with no D-Pad input, you'll auto target enemies and fire. If you want manual fire, double tap and hold the attack button to aim where ever. However, you're position will be fixed in place. You can press an attack button while pressing in a direction on the D-Pad to have you're aim fixed in that direction. It's a bit tough to controll at first, but it is perfectly playable with enough practice. And you'll need alot.
This game is difficult, as I mentioned a couple times before, but you really must know it. This game is difficult. However, if you practice enough in the tutorial, and understand everything you need to know on playing the game, going through the actually levels isn't as hard as it's made out to be. This was actually my personal experience I'm describing, and I think it came out of self confidence, but later on, you'll need to pick your weapons wisely if you wanna survive.
But I wanna get this out of the way, and excuse me for the tone I'm about to write this in, but, taking down Longai-Os are F***ING IMPOSSIBLE!!!! SERIOUSLY, IF YOU THOUGHT YOU'VE PLAYED HARD GAMES, YOU HAVE NOT GONE UP AGAINST THOSE THINGS. THEY WILL RAPE, AND I MEAN, RAPE, YOUR PERCEPTION OF WHAT DIFFICULT IS!!!!!!
Whew, sorry, had to get that out of my system.
So, what is a Longai-O? Well, you'll have to see yourself. Be ready for the torture that is to come.
But there is more to the game. There's an edit mode, which is the same thing the devs used to create all the other levels. You can even modify the existing the levels as well, but playing modified version of them won't save your score.
I'm sure we're all familiar with Nintendo WiFi, but Treasure has created a special method of sharing levels. Sound loading. Basically, your level is converted to a sound file, played into a recorder or another DS mic, and that will recieve the sound and reconvert it to its original form. It's pretty cool, and a great way to share levels without friend codes. Props to you, Treasure.
It's typical fast paced shmup kind of music. Pretty much MIDI, but again, not always bad. There's only a hand full of tracks to listen to, and if you feel like it, you can check them out in the sound test.
Besides music, you won't be able to hear all of it, because the only sound effect you're gonna hear are explosions. This game lives for explosions
Other than that, there really isn't anything else to talk about in the sound department
Again, like Treasure's past games, this one is for the niche that it has developed, and those kind of gamers will love it for the challenge and addictive gameplay it provides. Of course, being that it's a hard game, it's not gonna appeal to anyone, but if you're atleast curious, or tired of games that keep pulling your hand the whole way through, it wouldn't hurt to pick this one up.
And I'll say it again. Longai-O.