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Japanese N64 boxart
Swing! Entertainment Media AG (Europe)
Conspiracy Entertainment (north America)
D3 Publisher (XBLA ver.)
|Release date(s)||Nintendo 64
|Genre(s)||Shoot 'em up|
Bangai-O in its Dreamcast Western release, or Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh (爆裂無敵 バンガイオー Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaiō?, Explosive, Invincible Bangaioh) in the Nintendo 64 and Japanese Dreamcast versions, is a multi-directional shooter video game developed by Treasure. It was first released on the Nintendo 64 only in Japan with a limited 10,000 unit production run. It was converted to the Dreamcast a few months later, and this version was eventually released worldwide; the latter version is much more widely available, and thus better known.
The game has a simple storyline (though slightly differing scripts among the Japanese, European, and North American releases) conveyed through intermission screens and dialogue interruptions, with character portraits and captions, triggered by approaching objects in normal play. Two young mecha pilots, Riki and his sister Mami share command of the powerful humanoid-shaped Bangai-O and battle villains from the "Cosmo Gang", guilty of fruit contraband, and lots of gun turrets, bombs and robots through 44 levels.
Bangai-O, the player's mecha, is maneuvered via eight-way directional controls and fires in eight directions, controlled by the controller's four face buttons. Two firing modes are represented as switching between the two pilots (the current one is displayed at all times in a portrait): Riki fires red homing missiles and Mami fires blue lasers that bounce off walls.
There is a special attack that consists of a 360 degree burst of the current shot type. The number of shots fired by the special attack, 40 to 400, depends on how many enemy bullets are on the screen and how close the player is to them while firing. The missile special attack splits between multiple targets; the laser special attack points towards a target after bouncing.
At the beginning of a level two special shots are available; destroying enemies and scenery gives additional uses, up to five available shots, and this recharging effect is shown as a meter.
The number of explosions taking place at any given time is shown at the top of the screen and determines how much the special attack meter recharges and what type of fruit is left behind by destroyed enemies. Higher numbers of explosions yield more special energy and more valuable types of fruit. Therefore, the tactic of inviting substantial enemy fire in order to counter with the special attack is key to success at the game.
Nintendo 64 version
The original version of the game, released only in Japan and limited to 10,000 cartridges, has significant differences to the Dreamcast version.
- Utilizes a combo system instead of the explosion meter. After destroying at least 100 enemies in quick succession with a special attack or otherwise, the player gets a combo meter that tracks the number of enemies destroyed. When the combo stops, a portal opens that when touched opens a menu which allows the player to choose to upgrade their firepower, refill their life, take a large point bonus, or gain temporary invincibility. The level of the upgrades, life refill, and point bonus are determined by the size of the combo, invincibility is only given as an option from very large combos.
- The special attack is generally less effective. It must be charged (by holding down the button) in order to reach its full potential.
- Riki's shots do more damage than Mami's shots. Mami's shots are semi-homing in that they target enemies after bouncing off a wall.
The second version of the game saw release in Japan, Europe, and North America. As a result, it is the version that the title is primarily identified with.
In addition to minor graphical and audio improvements, the gameplay was altered significantly.
- The explosion counter replaced the combo system, and the "shop" was done away with entirely. Life and Invincibility powerups automatically drop with high explosion counts.
- The special attack's strength is based only on the amount and proximity of incoming fire, no charging required. However, the player can only hold up to five special attacks at a time instead of the N64 version's 10.
- Riki and Mami's shots do the same damage. Mami's shots are lasers instead of missiles, and rebound off walls at fixed angles at all times.
- There are additional boss characters, two new enemies (flamethrower and giant egg), a solid life bar, and myriad small changes to the levels (though the layouts remain mostly the same).
The Dreamcast version defaults to the simpler but less flexible "AB" control configuration (one button to shoot in the direction of movement and one to shoot backwards) with the variable "ABXY" configuration (one button to shoot in each direction, with combinations of two buttons for diagonals) as the secondary scheme. The game's documentation notes that the default scheme is inferior, and suggests changing it.
Bangai-O was originally conceived as a remake of an obscure 8-bit shooter, Hover Attack, first published as a type-in game for the Sharp X1.  released in 1983. Eventually it evolved into an original property, but retains many elements of the original including the distinctive missile trails and a general aesthetic similarity and could be considered a spiritual sequel.
Instead it was made as an independent game, even though it retains most of the original style.
A high definition version, Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury, was developed for Xbox Live Arcade, published by D3 Publisher. It features twin analogue stick control, a level editor and co-operative and competitive multiplayer. Initially announced for a release in November 2010, it has been delayed until Spring 2011 to incorporate the multiplayer modes.
- "Call It Bangai-O HD, Or Call It 1000-Shot Insanity".
- "Treasure's Bangai-O HD Delayed For A Very Good Reason".
- Travis Fahs. "The Leif Ericson Awards".
- John Szczepaniak. "Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier". Hardcore Gaming 101. p. 4. Retrieved 2011-03-16. Reprinted from "Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier", Retro Gamer (67), 2009.
- ニンテンドウ64 - 爆裂無敵バンガイオー. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.32. 30 June 2006.