Bangaioh - Treasure

Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh

Reviewed by Max Damage

Ages back, I wrote a little review for this site - a review of Alien Soldier, one of the best 'run and gun' type shooters out there, a game that took bosses to new levels and threw the boring platformy bits (the levels, even!) out the window - that game was a rollercoaster ride of explosive mayhem, boss following boss following boss - I suggest you get a genesis emulator, and find the rom NOW.

So, why did I write that? Simple - Alien Soldier, along with Gunstar Heroes, Radiant Silvergun and many other Sega Genesis & Saturn shmups were all developed by Treasure, who, quite frankly, rock, and now they have moved to pastures greener, consoles whiter, and have gone and developed a monster of a shmup for your sparkly little dreamcast - after all these years, they've topped Alien Soldier. Enjoy.

Right - let's get down to the review, m'kay? =)

This is their newest game - Bangaioh - and it is quite possibly the most extreme and over the top shmup you have ever played - they have pushed the Dreamcast to it's limits with this game. We all know that Sega's new monster machine can throw around polygons like theres no tomorrow, but what about it's 2D capabilities, eh? Well, Bangaioh proves that there's life in two dimensional shooters yet, by providing you with a game where a single button press can launch the biggest weapon you've ever seen - ever - guaranteed!

Some of Bangaioh's whacked out characters

This is unlike any shmup you've ever played - it rewards kamikaze tactics, stupidity, reckless charges and encourages you to fly as close to enemy fire as humanly possible - the closer you cut each maneuver, the more you get to blow up! The plot is irrelevant, and treasure have kindly included an option to disable all chat between characters (the game pauses while they talk via text boxes) and just get on with the blasting - but let me say this - the plot and characters are absolutely mad - I'm talking LSD induced raving bonkerness that could only have come out of japan, and it's one of the things that makes this game stand out so well.

Basically, the game follows a simple format - you start the level (one of 44), blast your way through a maze of buildings (blow them up for points), obstacles (avoid, blow them up or die), and enemies (just blow them up!), find a boss or reactor (more of this later), and blow it up! Then you go to the next level, and repeat - only with the chaos factor increased a little further.

The controls are simple, and it handles something like robotron, with a little bit of cybernator - the D-Pad moves around your little flying robot (the eponymous Bangaio), and double tapping a direction makes you move even faster, while the A, B, X & Y buttons shoot in 8 different directions - the left trigger changes weapon between homing missiles of doom, and ricocheting lasers of death, while the right trigger fires a smartbomb, or 'Baku' (Explode), consisting of tons of shots of the type selected. That's it - simplicity itself.

Now, try doing that against the force of gravity (you may have a flying robot, but when it's not flying, it's falling), while 300 baddies pummel you from all directions, while the walls, ceiling and floor explode, and you try to aim a gun that is capable of firing around 15 explosive missiles of doom a second - sounds impossible, eh? It isn't. Just as several hundred little shots o' doom are about to reduce you to scrap metal, you press the 'explode' button..

Your jaw drops. You whoop with delight, You fall about laughing. You call everyone in the room to see. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING explodes. You repeat, again and again and again - always going for the biggest blast.

Yes, you have just reached shmuppers nirvana - you have seen what it is like to wield the ultimate weapon, unmatched by any shooter boss ever, and it's in YOUR hands - when you use a bomb in this game, everything blows up - nothing survives, and up to four hundred individually animated, homing (complete with transparent vapor trail) and highly explosive missiles (or even possibly bouncy lasers) swirl around the screen in search of nasties, destroying everything in your path, and then once everything you've seen has exploded, they fly off screen in search of anything not yet blasted into subatomic particles.

You see, this game thrives on danger and explosions (in that order) - your main guns are useful against small groups of nasties, with missiles good in open areas, and lasers for narrow tunnels, but fairly useless against larger bunches of enemies (several hundred on screen), so you need something bigger, and the smartbombs are your salvation - you gain these weapons of nuclear death by shooting stuff (anything, as long as it isn't a wall) - a bar in the corner of your screen fills up, and when it's full you get a bomb - you can carry up to five at any one time. Now, when you fire it, 40 shots are released by default - not much, granted, but impressive enough - the real fun comes in the danger of using them.

And some more... I don't know you but that sheep looks evil to me!

The power of your smartbombs is effected by the level of danger you are in - if there's one or two shots near your robot, you may get 50 or 60 shots - if there's a boss blasting away at you you may get 100, or 150, but if absolutely everything is gunning for your blood, and you're about to be hit by around a million shots at once, everything dies - except you. This system encourages you to do downright stupid and reckless things in search of increased destruction - deliberately allowing yourself to get surrounded by dozens of foes, flying dangerously near to flak turrets, or doing other stupid and suicidal things. Also, the more things you actually blow up, the more powerups you get - for every hundred simultaneous explosions caused, a small health powerup appears, refilling 2 of your 10 health 'blocks', but should you have the fortitude to smartbomb 500 things at once, you get ten seconds of invincibility, and the ability to fly through anything, destroying it in a blaze of hyperactive glory! Wh00page city!

Basically, that's it - that's the whole game - charge into battle, blow stuff up, allow yourself to almost get blown up, and blow stuff up with style - so why is it so good? Well, why was robotron so good? It was simple, fun, addictive, and you blew lots of stuff up.

Okay - so that's the gameplay and plot sides of this little bundle of gaming joy - what's left? Well, graphics for one. This game really takes advantage of high resolution graphics, and shies away from the tradition of making large detailed sprites, and rather goes the opposite way - the bangaio itself can't be more than 15-20 pixels high, and most enemies are smaller, thus allowing them to pile in insane numbers of sprites on screen (literally pile - you will fight living mountains on nasties!), providing you with the most over the top shmupping experience ever - the explosions are suitably big and firey, and transparent too - and everything that DOES explode also sends out piles of bouncing debris, just to add to the mayhem. The level design is suitably silly as well, with some stages taking less than 30 seconds, while others taking ages. Some are maze like trawls, others will throw you in a pit with several hundred respawning (shoot the spawners!) enemies, and tons of original and crazy ideas - all mad as a fish, as you will see.

Also, take note that this game pushes the dreamcast to the limits - later on in the game you actually get some SLOWDOWN, but it's not that common, and only happens when you've just blown up a planets worth of nasties - and having that in slow motion is an experience you'll like!

Now the final touches - sound and music - these are toughies - both are great, the sound is suitably manic, cars horns beeping, people scream as you rampage godzilla style through cities, and characters scream excitedly in japanese whenever anything happens. The music is another matter - it's great while you play, and suitably catchy, but eminently forgettable - most shmups have the ability to instill my mind with at least one other annoyingly hummable tune, but not this one - strange, that. Oh, and you WILL be weirded out by the continue screen - what exactly is going on? If you can decipher the text on it as well, I would LOVE to hear what it says!

The only actual PROBLEM I have with this game is bosses - for the most part, they're fine, but on too many levels there isn't one - just a 'reactor' which you have to shoot a few hundred times - they don't even fire back, and if you've cleared all the surrounding defenses, you're in for a massively anticlimactic non-battle, the only redeeming feature of which is that each reactor makes new and original silly noises when you hit it!

Fortunately, the bosses themselves are a tiny part of the game, and are generally not as fun to fight as the hordes of nasties you will encounter, though, some bosses are great, such as rival bangaios, who also have smartbomb bars, and can also launch 400 shots at once - cue an astoundingly cataclysmic duel to the death - he who runs out of bombs loses - unless you think you can dodge four hundred homing missiles at once - independantly controlled eyes come in handy here - also known as 'shmuppers eye'.

Anyhow, let's bring this to a close. shall we? This is definately the most FUN game I've ever played - you have not lived till you've created the biggest explosion in gaming history - just import this game as soon as you can - you won't regret it, though, you may need a little help deciphering the menu's - there's a small translation FAQ at - anyhow, get this game now, and you won't regret it!

Apparently, this game is going to make it's way to US & European shores sometime later this year (yes, I'm amazed too!), under the somewhat more boring name 'Bangai-O' - I have no idea how they are going to change it, but I expect they'll try and tone down the madness of the plot a bit. - I suggest importing the japanese version though - the plot only serves to get in the way of the explosions, and treasure know that - they let you turn it off.. This game is built with the emphasis on the 'bang' - so just part company with your buck, and prepare to laugh your head off!

Signing off
Yours Explosively, Invicibly and definitely Madly

- [STP]Max Damage



Die, evil first wussy boss person - taste my explosive swirly missiles of doom! MWAHAHAHAAAAHA!! ....Sorry....



Oh, did I forget to mention that this game heralds the return of FRUIT? Yes - you collect various healthy foodstuffs for points, and the more spectacular the explosions you cause, the bigger the fruit you get!

(Yay! Fruit! I think I'll go play Rainbow Islands again - Akira)



And this is a small example of what a smartbomb looks like - a death blossom of swirly explosive doom - and this is just a quarter of the firepower that you can wield - BANGAIO! BANGAIO!!! BAAANGAIOO!!!!!!!!!!

(Bangaioh puts the BANG back before IOH. Or something - Akira)


Well me mate, you sure like to write eh? =) Your Treasure-bias slips in the review (he tried to put a 105% score on the gameplay!) but it's a good one nonetheless, and our FIRST DC REVIEW! Thanks for that Max... I hope you don't join the 'Polygon' Williamson hordes, being a Treasure-bigot, FPS player and all... =P

The sound of lots of homing missiles, big explosions and manic destruction is something I DEFINITELY like. I should grab a copy of this one as soon as I get a DC.

Oh yeah. Pictures 'borrowed' from Treasure's website and screenshots taken from... where was it Max? Oh, yeah, IGN. Yuck. Home of our 'friend' Colin=P

- Akira


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie