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Game professionals create Bangai-O levels in the spirit of charity

IGN, D3, and The Guildhall have teamed up to host an exclusive Bangai-O Spirits level contest between game industry professionals. The winner will have a $10,000 graduate fellowship donated to The Guildhall in his name -- which means that some graduate assistant is going to pay the rent with one of these Bangai-O levels.

IGN has all nine levels, from designers at Infinity Ward, Infinite Interactive, and other such prestigious studios, available for download and voting. It's really interesting to see what people who think about levels for a living do with the Bangai-O rule set. Harvey Smith, lead designer of Deus Ex, made an arena for super-annoying FastBots; Infinite's Steve Fawkner replicated the Atari classic Warlords.

All of the levels -- many of which tend toward the baroque -- are great, but our favorite is the simplest one: Shane Hensley's "Pinball Wizard," designed to imitate a pinball playfield. It looks stark, but explodes into bullets in a way that is startling even for Bangai-O.

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

DS Fanboy Review: Bangai-O Spirits

If you've ever played a Treasure shooter, or almost any Treasure game outside of, say, Stretch Panic or Wario World, you know a bit about what to expect from Bangai-O Spirits. For years, Treasure has been creating incredibly strange games with overt humor and colorful graphics overlaid on top of complex mechanics and piles and piles of enemies. Each game has a "gimmick" that drives the gameplay and defines the player's abilities: swapping colors in Ikaruga, throwing in Gunstar Heroes, and so on.

Bangai-O Spirits has all the hallmarks of a Treasure shooter. It doesn't take itself seriously, but provides more than enough of a challenge for any gamer. It features the same gimmick as the other Bangai-O games, and will be instantly familiar to fans of those. In fact, it seems to be the ideal Treasure game. At the same time, it completely subverts the usual Treasure dynamic, with brilliant results.

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

Continue reading DS Fanboy Review: Bangai-O Spirits

Visualshock! Speedshock! Soundshock! A look at Treasure's shooters

We knew immediately when we heard that a new Bangai-O game was coming out that it would be something special. How could we be so sure of an unknown game? The answer lies in the history of its developer, Treasure, an offshoot of Konami who has been making idiosyncratic action games for years (as well as the occasional McDonald's game to fund said action games, but that's a story for another time).

They've made very memorable brawlers and platformers, but Bangai-O Spirits is part of a long tradition of innovative shooters with insane storylines and unique rulesets, which is why we've chosen to look at Treasure's body of work in that particular genre. If you don't consider run & guns like Gunstar Heroes shooters ... well, we debated that, a lot, and decided that since they're games primarily about firing projectiles at enemies, they belong in the same discussion as scrolling shooters. Of course, if you think enough about shooters to make that kind of distinction, you probably know all about Treasure already.

Boss is approaching!

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

Poke around the Abandoned Building (website)

Yes, that's cooked puppy.

This is just one of the rather gruesome sights that can be found over at the new site for D3's budget survival-horror Simple DS Series Vol. 42: THE Haioku Byoutou (Simple DS Series: Vol. 42 - The Abandoned Building). Even though our chances of seeing this game in the west are as good as Fido there ever fetching a frisbee again, we still spent an enjoyable fifteen minutes scouting around the site, taking in loads of screens and some genuinely eerie footage of the game.

Hit up our gallery and see some of the sights for yourself, but keep your flashlight close.

Gallery: Simple DS Series Vol. 42: THE Haioku Byoutou

[Via Go Nintendo]

E308: Not the right place to try Bangai-O Sound Load

I went to D3 Publisher along with Joystiq's Justin McElroy to look at Bangai-O Spirits. Justin brought his mysterious space phone along, and I saw an opportunity. After I looked at the new Treasure stages (which include detailed pixel images of the Bangai-O robot and other things made out of stage elements), I asked if we could try out the Sound Load feature -- live.

Justin loaded up a level on YouTube, stuck an earphone up to the mic, and the D3 rep started the Sound Load, but to no avail. "Transfer failed," "Too quiet," "Too loud." That doesn't mean it's a finicky feature, necessarily, just that it's not the ideal feature for the loudest place ever. Owners of the Japanese version haven't really reported problems. I have full faith that it works great in regular noise situations.

I asked the D3 rep if there would be downloadable stages on the US website, and he told me that they were planning a YouTube channel. Furthermore, I was told that Japanese stages would work in the U.S. build.

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

E308: More Bangai-O shots fired off

For the past few months, we've bombarded you with regular updates on Bangai-O Spirits like so many missiles. You might even say that we have an obsession, and you'd be right: we adore -- nay, love -- Bangai-O. If we were in charge of this scummy joint, it wouldn't even be DS Fanboy, but Bangai-O Fanboy. All employees would have to work while dressed as Riki or Mami. All readers would have to provide photographic proof that they owned the original, Japan-only N64 game.

But we're not in charge -- we're snivelly, subservient slaves to our paymasters. So the most we can do is upload these ten new screenshots and hope that you view them.

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

[Via press release]

Shaun the Sheep screens taste good with mint sauce

Mention anything associated with Nick Park to animation aficionados and you will be met with squeals of delight. On second thought, don't mention anything -- just take solace in the fact that you know all about the mega-popular creator of Wallace & Gromit, Creature Comforts and now Shaun the Sheep.

Our first look at Shaun was a positive one -- despite the possible trappings of the standard mini-game compilation, the light-hearted, mischievious nature of the trailer had people talking. D3 has released a whole batch of new screens today, which show the farm map along with several other characters. Judging by the dual-screen displays, it appears gameplay might mix with stop-motion cutscenes simultaneously -- which would be awesome. The overall polish of Shaun the Sheep is making a strong case for a decent game when it arrives in Q3 2008.

Gallery: Shaun the Sheep

[Via press release]

Puzzle Quest: Galactrailer

Okay, so Puzzle Quest: Galactrix doesn't have online play. It's still got the rare and ephemeral quality of being Puzzle Quest! That counts for a lot. And besides, it's supposed to be an RPG, right? Those don't need online multiplayer! (Ignore the other versions of Galactrix. And, uh, the MMORPG genre.)

If this brief gameplay video is any indication, Galactrix moves really, really quickly. We'd get our futuristic spaceship captain asses handed to us before we could even figure out what all those numbers on the top screen meant. We'll be content to lose to the computer, and to our friends, who can then console/mock us in person.

DS version of Galactrix missing online play

What a bummer. We were all excited when we saw the first screens of the DS version of Puzzle Quest: Galactrix attached to IGN's preview. Then we had to go and read the preview.

"Galactrix will feature the same multiplayer modes as Challenge of the Warlords. That means the Xbox 360 and PC versions will be playable online, and the DS will include local multiplayer." And just like that, our dreams of Puzzle Questy Game Nights disappear like four contiguous red blocks.

This is less of an issue, of course, for people who have friends outside of the Internet, but we were really hoping Infinite Interactive would bring online play to the platform that made Puzzle Quest a household name (for certain values of "household"). And the screens do look nice.

Treasure talks more Bangai-O Spirits

"Hardcore action awesomeness."

That's how Treasure rep Arthur sums up Bangai-O Spirits (2:28), and we're struggling to concoct a more befitting description. The lucky blighters at Gamespot's "On the Spot" show got a chance to chat to Arthur (and his colleague Kaori) about the game, which launches later this year in the States.

The first few minutes are dedicated to chatting about and showing off some of the now-familiar shooting action and the level editor, while the second half deals with the game's amazing Sound Load system. Arthur admits that this idea "took a lot of explaining to Nintendo," but then demonstrates how easy it is to share files (5:20) -- simply holding two DSes closely to one another does the trick. This idea still seems like witchcraft to us, but we absolutely love it.

Arthur also confirmed that there was no official U.S. database planned to host Bangai-O sound files (9:05). Not that this should bother you -- after all, there's at least one other (really accessible) way to share your masterpiece of a level.

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

[Via press release]

Naruto takes his Path in September

If you love Naruto and are ruing the fact that you can't make it to this year's Anime Expo, don't rue too hard. You may not be able to try out Path of the Ninja 2 this July, but your day to get your Naruto RPG on will come soon enough.

Tomy announced that the game is releasing this September, meaning you only have to make it through three measly months. In the meantime, there are plenty of other Naruto games out there to keep you busy, or you could pass the time by browsing through our updated gallery below.

Gallery: Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2

[Via press release]

Play Bangai-O and Naruto at this week's Anime Expo

Want to get your hands on Bangai-O Spirits before its August release? Then head on over to California and go to this year's Anime Expo. Not only will you get to play this gem of a game, but the entire DS Fanboy staff will envy you for your hands-on Bangai-O experience.

Another DS game that will be playable is, of course, Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2. Would you really expect the orange-clad Ninja not to make an appearance? So, if you plan to stop by the Expo, make sure to check out D3 Publisher's booth (901) for some fun times on the DS.

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

Gallery: Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2

Shaun the Sheep is the best character ever

There's nothing quite as charming as a Nick Park creation. After the worldwide success of Wallace & Gromit, a show with 7-minute episodes was devised starring an above-average farm animal. This animal now has its own DS game, and it's awesome. Why? It just is, man -- Shaun the Sheep owns all.

The premise of the game involves Shaun herding the rest of the flock back to the barn before the nondescript "Farmer" character returns home. Not much else is known about the gameplay at this point, beyond maneuvering around obstacles to safely guide the other dumb-as-donuts sheep. However, an additional mini-game mode is included - standard fare for children's games these days. Hey, if you're a kid or not, this is a fantastic game -- Shaun rules. Check out the trailer above and the first screens in our new gallery!

Gallery: Shaun the Sheep

[Via press release]

Daily Bangai-O Spirits videos are a welcome trend

Let us make our position on this subject absolutely clear: any website that wants to post new videos of Bangai-O Spirits between now and the game's August 12 release has our blessing. For that matter, we'll be happy watching playthroughs of new stages long after the game is out. The video above, from IGN, is especially awesome, featuring numerous enormous scatter bomb shots in a level devoid of anything but missile-firing enemies (which feed the scatter bombs).

The two videos after the break feature the game's gentle first level and a bizarre gimmick level in which the player hits soccer balls with the bat weapon as they fall from a chute, pinball-style. There certainly appears to be enough variety in the level designs.

Gallery: Bangai-O Spirits

Continue reading Daily Bangai-O Spirits videos are a welcome trend

Driving on a DS-only permit

It should be good to drive emergency vehicles without the possibility of running people over, GTA-style. The DS enjoys the odd sunday drive, but the latest from Japan shows a different take on handling big vehicles and getting down to some serious work.

Norimono DS from D3 serves up ten different vehicles, each with jobs to complete. For example, the fire engine needs to be driven to a rescue operation, the backhoe needs to dig some holes and unearth dead bodies (not really, but awesome anyway), while the garbage truck takes out the trash.

Control will be handled by turning a steering wheel on the touch screen. Skills with each vehicle will increase upon the completion of each job; the aim of the game being to build up an impressive portfolio of driving abilities. More screens of this interesting import can be found after the break.

Continue reading Driving on a DS-only permit

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