Think you%26rsquo;re good at games? You can measure how hardcore you are by spending a couple of hours with Bangai-O %26ndash; if your eyes are bleeding, your nerves are frazzled and you%26rsquo;ve torn your hair out in scalpy clumps, this game has just exposed you as a casual. What are you going to do about it, chump? Bangai-O is one of the most painfully difficult things around. But if you can manage to get your head around its freeform combination of puzzles and shooting, not to mention its finger-twisting controls, it%26rsquo;s also one of the most satisfying.
The aim is to destroy specific targets using a robot that can swing a baseball bat, charge through solid objects, freeze enemies on the screen and fire up to 100 missiles at a time %26ndash; among many other abilities. You can take four weapons %26ndash; some of which can be mixed into new variants %26ndash; into each stage, and the tactics you use will depend on how you set up your robot. Defensive combos such as the sword and shield are best in some situations, whereas other occasions call for screen-filling clouds of homing missiles. If you%26rsquo;re really stylish, you can ram enemies into each other with physical attacks, charge up special moves that unleash quadruple-size missiles at the very last millisecond before you would have been destroyed, or discover sneaky ways to nuke an entire level almost as soon as it begins.
Make no mistake, Bangai-O is utterly rock-hard, and it will be a long time before the average player is comfortable with a control scheme that uses all six buttons on the DS. Single-tapped, double-tapped, held-down, two at once, D-pad pressed, D-pad released %26ndash; and all this while juggling different weapon combos in levels where the wrong move can mean death within two seconds of the start. But after great frustration comes great reward %26ndash; the option to tweak hundreds of fiendish levels, create new ones from scratch and download even trickier ones via audio, and show off with a truly excellent multiplayer battle mode. Insane, brilliant and like nothing else you%26rsquo;ve ever played.
Aug 12, 2008