The story/tutorial mode ends in a jokey fashion after just 17 stages, leaving you with a bare bones menu of 150 further abstract levels of high score challenge. Accessibility clearly wasn’t of any great concern to the game’s creators - you can easily lose in the opening half a second of the busier stages. Equally, you might discover a level’s instant win trigger without ever knowing how you did it. Subtlety isn’t obvious amid the chaos. Bangai-O is probably the most uncompromisingly hardcore game on DS.
If it really clicks with you, you can even make your own stages using the level editor mode, and if you have the skills then you’ll be able to make them every bit as elaborate as the built-in ones. The tools are all there. Alternatively, you can download them as audio files, playing them into the microphone of the DS to save them on your cart.
There’s also a multiplayer Duel mode, allowing you to pit your skills against a mixture of friends and AI opponents. Shame it isn’t online, as the chances of finding other players who’ll share a passion for something like this seem impossibly remote. Still, if you’re lucky enough to find a local Bangai-O community, you’ll have a multiplayer experience that rivals Smash Bros. for intensity, and completely outclasses it in terms of its capacity to bewilder anyone who’s not in the know.
It’s certainly not for everyone - probably 95% of gamers will instantly despise everything about it. But there’s going to be a significant minority of intense fans who’ll reckon it’s the best thing ever.
Final Score: 8
1. High-tension excitement
2. Sense of accomplishment
3. Tons of levels and weapons
1. Difficult is an understatement
2. Arbitrary win conditions
3. Trying to see in the tiny screen
Apr 21, 2008
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