Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: D3Publisher; Developer: Treasure; Players: 1 – 2; Released: May 4, 2011; ESRB: Everyone; Official Website
The digital market’s continuing trend of delivering both great indie games and ambitious yet risky titles. Thanks to this, gamers are able to get their hands on Bangai-O HD Missile Fury, a new iteration in the classic variety shmup. The niche nature of the game made it impossible to be released outside of a digital market. Some may call it masochism, but hardcore gamers and shmup fans are definitely getting their fill with this iteration of Bangai-O.
Although on first impression, this is a simple twin stick shooter with basic weapon options, the Bangai-O’s abilities already contribute to an over-the-top game with nary a missile-free moment. While players are surrounded easily by attacks from all incoming directions, the game’s various abilities give players more than enough options to get by. Most impressive is the counter, which destroys all nearby projectiles and slings back even more, sometimes adding up to a thousand or more. Although powerful and necessary, this ability is limited to the amount of meters, which can easily be replenished by flying fruit that homes into Bangai-O after a kill.
If Missile Fury was simply a compilation of bullet-filled levels, there’d be no appeal, or at least none that would last longer than a day. Instead, this series has always boasted an interesting variety of levels. Some levels are quick and dirty, perhaps lasting only a minute and requiring quick thinking, while others have intricate mazes that need to be guided through. In one of them, players have to grab an item within less than a second before being trapped by a horde of giant ants! It sounds gimmicky, but each level is preceded by a briefing that hints at these surprises. Even if it may be too hard for some players, failing any level three times grants automatic entry to the next level, so no gamer is denied access to the experience based purely on lack of skill.
Multiplayer is one of the more interesting additions. Considering how ridiculous some of the levels are, it definitely helps to have an ally by your side. It is a bit disheartening that there is no offline multiplayer. Although online is par for the course now, not only does this hurt Xbox LIVE Silver members, but offline multiplayer and smack talk is one of the aspects that are missing from most games now, and Missile Fury embodies that trend.
While the edit mode is versatile and makes good use of the inspiration players receive from the campaign, actually creating anything can be overwhelming. Maps can take on a variety of sizes and can even use campaign maps as a template. The average player is unlikely to spend more than a couple of minutes, quickly becoming frustrated with the wealth of possibilities. However, even the edit mode’s intended audience, hardcore gamers who want to create and share their ideas, will be disappointed. Custom levels can only be shared to friends, highly limiting the scope of those who will see the creative works players can make. Imagine if Little Big Planet‘s creations can only be shared with people on a friend list. Disappointing to say the least.
By far, this is one of the most well designed twin stick shooters out there. Sure, your real life friends can’t enjoy the game with you at the same time, but most people are probably going to be glued to Xbox LIVE anyways. Missile Fury delivers everything niche that old school, shmup gamers could want and is unlikely to disappoint. No gamer with an itch for a challenge should pass up on this game.