Yep that's right, SEGA staff thought to combine two of the most infamously challenging single-player game genres into a single game.
The core gameplay features a panel with two sets of three face buttons, with one set on the left and the other on the right, a large analog joystick in the center that can be moved horizontally, and two buttons on the inner walls of the cabinet. The player controls a party of three on a "hallway" perspective as they scroll down the chart. Upon reaching red, green, and blue notes, the player must hit the corresponding color of button (doesn't matter which side of buttons you hit, at least until a certain point in the difficulty scale). Likewise, there will be purple notes on the edges of the lanes; these must be hit with the correct button. Finally, the player uses the stick to move their team, in order to collect yellow Bell items for bonus points and health, avoid pink and purple bullets that will damage the lifebar when hit, and keep their team on the lanes whenever they narrow and twist, because if the player goes off-course, they will be unable to hit any notes until they get back on-track.
In addition to all of this, each song has an associated enemy you face off against. You start off defeating Mooks called Ongeki Nekos, and then partway through the song, the boss character of the song appears. Hitting notes will deal damage to the current enemy character in proportion to how accurate the note was hit and the strength of the player's team. If the player runs out of health, the song ends prematurely and they lose. If they deplete an Ongeki Neko's health, another one will take their place, and if they defeat the boss, provided the player doesn't fail out too along the way, the player wins. Otherwise, the song ends in a draw. Playing songs will level up the team members' affection and experience levels, allowing them to stand better chances against tougher enemy characters.
Unlike other arcade rhythm games, which typically give the player a fixed number of songs per credit, this game uses a GP system. Inserting credits adds GP and inserting multiple credits may grant the player bonus GP (in addition to the amount of GP the player naturally gets from each individual credit), depending on operator settings. Playing a song uses up a set amount of GP, as does extending the pre-song menu timer. After every song, the player can choose to keep going provided they have enough GP for another song or the money to buy-in extra GP, or end their session and convert unused GP into Money, a currency used for various features.
The game also has a companion cabinet, the Card Maker, which is where players can attempt to roll for new character cards of varying rarity and power, as well as print physical versions of their cards. The Card Maker also has some functions for CHUNITHM and maimai.
For those in Japan looking to play this game, but are hopeless with reading Japanese, Otogamer.com has a handy guide.
Compare NOISZ STARLIVHT for another take on the "bullet hell meets rhythm game" concept.
- O.N.G.E.K.I. (2018)
- O.N.G.E.K.I. PLUS (2018)
- O.N.G.E.K.I. SUMMER (2019)
- O.N.G.E.K.I. SUMMER PLUS (2019)
- O.N.G.E.K.I. R.E.D. (2020)
- O.N.G.E.K.I. R.E.D. PLUS (2021)
- O.N.G.E.K.I. bright (2021) — current version
ARE YOU READY? Let's SHOOT!
- Anti-Frustration Features: GP is bought with coins and is used up when playing songs. A pittance of GP can also be used to extend the song selection timer.
- Boss Battle: At a fixed point in each song, the Ongeki Nekos stop appearing and the song's boss character challenges you. If you can deplete their health before their song ends, and then make it to the end without running out of your own health, you win the battle.
- Bullet Hell: The game has pink orbs on the lanes that have to be avoided, coming in rather dense groups on the higher difficulties. Notably, this is the game that has True Final Boss tracks from CAVE games!
- Flawless Victory:
- Hitting all notes with no Misses is a Full Combo. Hitting all notes with only Breaks or Critical Breaks is an All Break and takes priority over an FC.
- Collecting all of the Bells on the chart is a Full Bell, and can be awarded in conjunction with either of the above two.
- The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: Some Lunatic charts have a difficulty rating of 0. Anyone who actually expects a Zero-Effort Boss will be Instantly Proven Wrong, as they're just as hard as other Lunatic charts.
- Game Over: Notably, unlike the other two games in the Performai trilogy, it is possible to fail out of a song in the middle of it in normal play (i.e. without using a skill or modifier), if you run into too many bullets.
- Gimmick Level: Some songs have Lunatic charts, which employ all sorts of mechanics not found in "normal" charts, such as making the chart lanes bounce back and forth or having a heavier emphasis on dodging bullets than hitting notes. Some songs, most notably the CAVE crossover tracks, only have Lunatic charts (i.e. no Basic, Advanced, Expert, or Master).
- Harder Than Hard:
- Master above Expert, just like the other two games in the series. O.N.G.E.K.I.'s iteration of Master difficulty is notable in that while the lower difficulties only have three lanes of notes that can be activated by face buttons on either side, Master charts can have six lanes; during the six-lane segments you have to use the correct side to get credit.
- Lunatic charts, which usually are as hard as or harder than Master and which often use gimmicks not found in more conventional charts.
- Nintendo Hard: The game requires you to juggle face buttons, side buttons, and an analog stick to hit notes, stay on the track or else miss notes, collect Bells, and avoid bullets, giving it the highest skill floor of the Performai trilogy.
- Rank Inflation:
- Like in other SEGA rhythm games, the ranks go up to SSS+.
- The judge ranks go, in ascending order, Miss, Hit, Break, and Critical Break. Certain modes also add Platinum Break over Critical Break.
- RPG Elements: This game is very heavy on them, featuring character cards that can be obtained from the Card Maker gacha, provide buffs such as better defense, higher attack power, and elemental boosts, and which can be leveled up. That said, the core rhythm game aspect is entirely playable without having to focus on cards, as cards do not really influence Technical Score or Platinum Score; they most they do is give you more defense or health to avoid ending the song prematurely from too much damage.
- Scoring Points:
- First, there is what the game simply calls Score, which is based not only on how well you hit notes but also how powerful your team's cards are. If you've played gacha-based mobile games like Love Live! School Idol Festival and BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!, this will sound famliar.
- Second, there is Technical Score, which is a more conventional system that is based only on your performance (cards have no impact). Up to 950,000 points can be earned from hitting notes, and the remaining 60,000 is earned from collecting Bells, for a maximum score of 1,010,000 points (i.e. 101%). This is notable for a game with a gacha system, as mobile rhythm games with gacha elements typically have only card-based score in order to encourage players to mass-roll for rare cards as a tradeoff for being "free-to-play".note
- Finally, some modes in R.E.D. use the Platinum Score system. A new judge rank, Platinum Critical Break (or simply Platinum Break), is added and which is worth more than a regular Critical Break. Platinum Breaks add 2 points, Critical Breaks add 1 point, Breaks, Hits, Misses and collecting Bells are worth nothing, and taking damage or missing bells takes away 2 points.
- Surplus Damage Bonus: Upon defeating the song's boss, the song will keep going but you will start to rack up an Over Damage bonus, which can net additonal jewels.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: The Lunatic charts for the CAVE crossover tracks focus less on hitting notes and much more on dodging bullets. "Toua -O.N.G.E.K.I. MIX-" even has you fight the boss by holding down one button while focusing on dodging bullets, just like actual DoDonPachi boss fights!
- We Win, Because You Didn't: Reaching the end of the song without defeating the boss results in a draw rather than winning outright. This is still much better than a loss, which is caused by running out of health (from hitting too many bullets) and which cuts the song short, depriving you of a lot of potential jewels, Score, and most importantly, Technical Score. Usually a draw happens because even though the player had the skill to avoid damage, they didn't have powerful enough cards to deplete the boss's health.