Showing posts with label Space Shooters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space Shooters. Show all posts

Retrospective: Bang! Gunship Elite

I love a good sci-fi shooter. The massive scope of interstellar wars, huge capital ships blasting the crap out of each other and swarms of nimble little fighters darting between the carnage. It's every kid's dream scenario and one above being a fighter pilot. Why settle for flying a jet through a planet's boring old atmosphere when you can pilot a warp speed space fighter through the stars, dodging asteroids and putting plasma torpedos down the exhaust chute of a small moon space station? No brainer, really.

I've played loads of these types of games over the years, on an assortment of consoles, and for the most part they all adhere to a familiar template. Usually played from a cockpit view, with a useless 3D radar display, 360 degree movement that can prompt the evacuation of one's stomach via the oral cavity, and some honest to goodness blasting action. Colony Wars, Rogue Squadron, Darklight Conflict, Starlancer, X-Wing, Yager, Spirit of Speed 1937, Battle Engine Aquila, Star Fighter 3000, Elite Dangerous, Star Wars: Squadrons...I could go on. Note I also used the term 'sci-fi' and not 'space' shooter. That's because some of these games take place within the atmosphere of a planet and thus render my opening paragraph null and void. But y'know. I'm just looking out for the pedants among us. And the fighter pilots I probably enraged with my flippant comments on their awesome jobs.

Anyway, the point of this is that the Dreamcast played host to a number of sci-fi shooters, with one of them even taking place not in the vacuum of space, but under the waves of some unnamed digital ocean (see Deep Fighter). I did take a brief look at the various sci-fi shooters on the Dreamcast several years ago, but I thought it was a good time to take a more in-depth look at one of those titles, and one which doesn't really get a lot of air time these days. Air time. Space. Geddit? Sigh. Anyway, let's take a gander at the rather oddly titled Bang! Gunship Elite.

I find it interesting that enigmatic developer Rayland Interactive decided to call their game Bang! Gunship Elite, rather than just Gunship Elite. The addition of the exclamation hints that they may have been expecting you to actually shout "Bang!" before pronouncing the rest of the title like a normal human would. To be honest I'm fine with that, and from now on any time I say the name of this game aloud, I shall indeed either be bellowing "Bang!" at the top of my voice (socially distanced and from behind a mask, of course); or inflating a balloon before popping it with a pin. 

If nothing else, that'll cement Bang! Gunship Elite in the psyche of anyone who knows me; or indeed anyone who sees me walking down the street with a handful of balloons in one hand and copy of the game in t'other. Actually, the more boring explanation for the addition of the Bang! bit is that the game was - judging from an early Rayland Interactive page I found on the Wayback Machine - originally going to be titled 'Big Bang' or something similar.

I feel I've gone off on a bit of a tangent here, so let's get back on the correct flight vector. Bang! Gunship Elite is a space-based sci-fi shooter for the Dreamcast and Windows that was only released in North America. This is especially curious because developer Rayland Interactive was based in France. If anything you'd have thought the game would have been a PAL exclusive if nothing else, but no. It was published in the US in December 2000 by Red Storm Entertainment and received fairly average reviews, and to be honest having spent a few hours playing the formulaic campaign it's not hard to see why.

Before we move on to the game itself though, it's worth talking about Rayland Interactive some more, simply because there is virtually no information about the fate of this outfit anywhere online. It seems that prior to Bang!, Rayland developed a vehicular combat title called Mad Trax that was released on PC in 1998. This was followed in 2000 by Bang! Gunship Elite and a nomination for 'best start-up' at the Milia 2001 interactive media expo. According to the remnants of their website on the Wayback Machine, a further title called ZooLooz was also in production, but I can find no information on it or further evidence that this game was ever finished or released. After May 2001, Rayland Interactive simply ceases to exist.