The Men, Women, and Weirdos of Bangai-O

Treasure’s Bangai-O games are wondrous menageries of destruction. They drop tiny robots into zoomed-out stages and let them wreak havoc with lasers, baseball bats, grenades, and blinding storms of enough missiles to choke an Ichiro Itano dogfight. This brand of adorable chaos is easy enough to find. Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury is still on Xbox Live, and Bangai-O Spirits is pretty cheap among DS games. They’re both decent games, and yet they lack one endearing point of the original Bangai-O: nonsense-spouting bosses.

The dialogue is one of the best parts of Bangai-O, odd as that may be for a shooter with no real storyline. Robot-pilot siblings Riki and Mami get advice from a bored housewife and a medium who channels long-dead celebrities, and every stage caps off with some bizarre boss who pilots a rival mecha or sits in a computer core. In localizing the Dreamcast version of Bangai-O, Conspiracy Entertainment intentionally left the text unpolished. It reads like something fresh off a buggy, wheezing translation machine, and it suits Bangai-O perfectly.

Conspiracy even carried the tone over to the boss profiles in the manual. The rest of the booklet is fairly straight-faced about everything, but every boss gets a description rife with absurdity. My favorite is 86, the SF Kosmo Gang leader who communicates entirely through sketches.

The entire set of character profiles can be found here. Bangai-O fans will note that very little of this backstory ever sees mention in the game itself. For example, you’ll never learn about the heroic Yomeiri Masuke’s hit TV series unless you read the manual.

Several Dreamcast games made their way to modern systems in recent years, but they’re limited to Sega offerings like Sonic Adventure and Space Channel 5. I hope that Treasure, now pursuing Steam development, sees fit to reissue Bangai-O in its blithering Dreamcast glory. Perhaps they’ll include the manual, so that all who play it can appreciate things in full.

Yes, Riki. It really is.