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Review: Bangai-O Spirits

Tom Endo | 11 Sep 2008 20:50
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Perhaps even more significant is that the game's level editor is available to change, in real-time, the levels that Treasure itself has constructed. The editor also allows the player to provide themselves unlimited health or special attack ammunition. The power of the level editor, upon my initial discovery of it, felt heretical - and it is, in the best sense of the word. For Bangai-O Spirits, difficulty is a malleable thing because as the number of levels available is vast, so too should be opportunities allowing the player to experience such enormity. Of course the player can also create his own levels by populating one of the many box sizes the editor offers with all manner of enemy and obstacle. There is great motivation to do this as well, as the editor is easy to use and, even if you are lazy, dropping but one enemy in a level can be somewhat entertaining. The player's creations can be shared via sound files through sites like YouTube. In theory, transmitting levels through the microphone on the DS seems wonderfully do-it-yourself and harkens back to the technology available during the halcyon days of the shmup. In actuality, it's a pain to implement in anything less than a soundproof room (the sort with cones coming out of the walls) and I've only managed to download one custom level over the past dozen or so tries. It will be interesting to see if the finicky nature of this process impedes the proliferation of player content and communities the game hopes to foster.

With the game's emphasis on user-generated content and accessible gameplay, Bangai-O Spirits shows itself to be very much of the moment. The infrastructure is undoubtedly the work of Treasure, but everything else is yours; an experience tailored to your liking, open for your interpretation. The game also isn't about high scores or the lengths skillful hand-eye coordination can endure - the fanbase for such things is a known quantity. This is a game for a new audience. In its own way, Bangai-O Spirits is Treasure's first toe into the ocean of casual gamers. It's a hell of a thing then, that on its way to the casual market, Treasure managed to liberate an entire genre as well.

Bottom Line: If you thought shmups died when your cousin Leon cut his mullet, then you were right. But now they're back.

Recommendation: Buy it. Otherwise you will spend that $30 dollars on a videogame with far more hype and far less entertainment value.

In 1989, Tom Endo got the cross on his gold plated necklace tangled up on the joystick of a Gradius cabinet and nearly asphixiated himself before getting his initials on the leaderboard.

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