Release Date: Q2 2008
Dreamcast fans who also happen to own a DS will have reason to celebrate later this spring as Treasure brings a reimagining of Bangai-O Spirits to the handheld market. This quirky little game is full of missiles, explosions and space fruit. Yes, you read that correctly.
There really isn't much plot to Spirits, just that you are fighting space pirates who drop space fruit when killed, which will recharge your energy (and also prevent space scurvy). The focus of the game is purely on action — fast, frantic, thumb-wrenching action that will make even the most hardcore gamer weep in futility.
Each level takes place in an arena chock-full of enemies, walls and lots of danger. You pick two weapons before entering, and once the stage starts, all hell breaks loose. Attacks come from all directions, and you are basically forced to run for your life as you make for some strangely placed ball, which, once destroyed, signals the end of the level and your victory. Getting to that point isn't easy, though, as literally hundreds of enemy projectiles fill the level, and it's easy to be overwhelmed quickly. If Contra and Ninja Gaiden had a baby, and that baby were on steroids, then you'd have the difficulty level of Spirits.
For those sadists who think the game's 160 levels are too easy, the developers are including the option to create and edit your own levels, which will surely lead to the emergence of designs so utterly inhuman that it would take some sort of superbeing to clear them. Levels can be transferred to friends, but not in ways you would expect. Rather than using the wireless capabilities of the DS, levels are converted and transferred via sound files, which sound a lot like a modem when in action. Basically, one player plugs in a set of headphones and then holds them up to the other DS, and viola, you've got yourself a new level.
Bangai-O Spirits is offering up a batch of hardcore gameplay for anyone who thinks the DS has been beset by cute and casual games for long enough. Even with the short hands-on time I experienced, it's easy to tell that this title is going to be a challenge for even the most skilled gamers. Coupled with the ability for fans to create their own levels, I can only imagine how insane things will become. If you like your action frantic and your games impossible, then be ready to pick this up in a few months.
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