Bangai-O Spirits

Bangai-O Spirits retrospective

Attitude for gains.

Bangai-O was once destined to be a generational cast-off. It was a quirky Dreamcast hit and an obscure N64 import around the same time, so it straddled two generations pretty easily. 2008's Bangai-O Spirits made sure Treasure's demented freeform puzzle-shooter would live through another. This was fabulous news when the game was announced, but even better news was that Bangai-O Spirits wasn't seeding its continuation by adding more content or updating the graphics. It did it by blowing its entire concept wide open, removing all traditional restrictions and shipping the game with a fabulous construction kit.

Bangai-O Spirits

Bangai-O Spirits

Buy. Play. Treasure.

So, Bangai-O Spirits. I think it's amazing. I sort of suspect that if you didn't play or love the first one, it'll probably leave you baffled for a long time. And then suddenly you'll have an epiphany, in which you utterly understand it and what it's trying to do.

Some of the time it's like WarioWare; some of the time it's like Gradius; some of the time it's like Brain Training. But you never know what to expect. You never know if a map is going to be over in two seconds, or if you'll be dodging bullets for five minutes. And there are so many nuances, like the counterintuitive process of putting yourself directly in the path of danger because your bombs increase their power in proportion to the number of incoming projectiles, or grasping the need to switch bullets to solve particular puzzles.

It's glorious; eclectic, furiously inventive, dizzying, baffling, confusing, witty, clever and beautiful. There are mazes, there are races, there are block puzzles, there are platform games, there are sports games, there are playful tributes to videogame classics from Pac-Man to Mr. Driller, there's pachinko, there are giant robots, there are giant giant robots, there are Lilliputian giant robots, and there are screens and screens of bullets.

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