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Ikaruga
By: Atari

Price: $92.98
Prices subject to change


Product Description:

Ikaruga is a 2-D scrolling space shooter (with options for either a vertical or horizontal display) set against a 3-D backdrop with a combination of rich Japanese storytelling and high-powered fighter-pilot heroics. Players take the role of hero Shinra, the lone survivor of a freedom federation that was massacred by the evil, power-hungry conqueror Tenro Horai. Now Shinra, in his newly-built ship, the Ikaruga, must fight for aging, exiled people who are depending upon him for their survival. Join the sole warrior as he battles the evil Horai in the hopes of restoring peace.

Those already familiar with Ikaruga from the Japanese Dreamcast release will appreciate vital game upgrades such as enhanced graphics, a new demo mode that clues players in to the "perfect" round and private passwords; high scorers can post their accomplishments on the official Ikaruga web site and establish bragging rights within the worldwide Ikaruga community.


Reviews
Best Scrolling-Shooter on Gamecube       Product Reviews
by:       on: 08-Oct 2006

Ikaruga is one of the best games for the Gamecube

It is a scrolling-shooter with a top-down perspective. You use a plane that has two types of weapons/shields. All enemies are also of the two basic types as far as their weapon type goes. Your ship doesn't take any damage if it is hit by any bullet etc of the same type and in fact this is how your missile attack power meter increases (by absorbing the enemy bullets). If you get hit by the opposite bullet type then you get destroyed (or if you crash into any enemy regardless of their weapon type).

The game has Easy, Normal, and Hard setting which changes the gameplay pretty significantly rather than just making enemies stronger etc like other games.

The basic difference between the difficult levels is simple but it has a big impact on the challenge level

On easy when you destroy enemies they don't release any dots - dots are one of the bullet types that you can absorb or get destroyed from depending on teh setting of your shield. This is a good setting to get in the game but really not that much harder than normal once you get into the game.

On normal when you destroy enemies of the same polarity as your weapon then they release dots while the opposite polarity don't. This is the level that most players will want to play on because destroyed ships releasing the dots gives you more points and missile power when you collect.

On hard when you destroy enemies of either polarity the dots are released. If you destroy them with same polarity as your weapon they release more dots then if they are the opposite polarity. I find this one difficult because you actually have to take your hand of the firing trigger and be more careful about what you shoot and when. This level is great for anybody that gets too good at normal mode to still find normal mode challenging.

Even though this game can start players finding it extrememly challenging it has a lot of things designed to help players get the most out of the game. For for every hour you have put in the game it will increase the number of continues you have... after just six hours in the game it will give you unlimited continues. Also the unlockables which require completing tutorial mode, easy mode, normal mode... then without using continue etc... still get unlocked based on time played rather than one actually being able to pull it off. Also there are modes where you can try any of the stages you have already played in slow motion... cutting straight to a hard boss battle where in slow mode you can understand the patterns a lot better.

The game supports two player co-op play. It is a great game. Get it
Ikaruga is a very good game, and an exceptionally good shooter.       Product Reviews
by: kaleb_g       on: 19-May 2006

Shooters (of the spaceship-piloting, screen scrolling variety) aren't really known for their innovation. Some have implemented new ways of acquiring weapons, or allowed different ways to use them, but the original gameplay mechanics stayed intact. That is, you have to try your best to avoid getting hit by projectiles (and the occasional ship or structure) while blasting everything in your path, collecting power-ups and whatnot along the way. Ikaruga changes this formula by introducing a simple but innovative concept: polarity.

All enemies in the game are either white or black in color, some of which can alternate. These two colors represent the two states of polarity. Being a certain polarity allows the enemies to shoot projectiles of the same polarity. Black ships shoot red/black projectiles, and white ships shoot white/blue projectiles. You can also change the polarity of your own ship at any time. The magic here is that you can only be destroyed by projectiles of the polarity opposite to your ship (though any contact with ships or structures is fatal). Projectiles that match your current polarity will be harmlessly absorbed by your ship and even help to fill your special weapon bar. On the offensive side of things, shooting an enemy of opposite polarity will deal twice the amount of damage as it would if you were the same polarity as they are. The bottom line is that polarity makes for a whole new dimension of gameplay.

As far as other concepts go, Ikaruga is pretty bare-bones, though that's hardly a bad thing, as the polarity concept makes gameplay complex enough. There are no power-ups or bonuses to be collected from enemies, no upgrades to purchase for your ship, nor is there even a choice as to which special weapon you start out with. In fact, there is only one special attack in the game--a barrage of lasers that home in onto any enemies on the screen--which as touched on earlier, is only charged up by absorbing projectiles of the same polarity as your ship. Your primary weapon--a rapid, endless stream of straight-shooting bullets--will be your offensive mainstay most of the time, but polarity gives more of a tactical edge to this.

Another element of polarity (which can be changed based on the difficulty) is the emission of same colored projectiles from an enemy when they destroyed by a matching polarity. That is, if you destroy a black enemy with black shots, it will explode and send black bullets flying from the wreckage. This makes for a real challenge when playing with a partner. The two-player mode, which would otherwise make the game undeniably easier, actually requires more skill and teamwork due to this gameplay mechanic. If you aren't careful, you could trigger an enemy to explode same color bullets which would be lethal to a partner who is currently in a polarity opposite of those bullets. This often requires you and your partner to either stay the same color as each other as much as possible, or to only kill enemies of the opposite color, or simply to hone your evasive skills for when something like this occurs. Playing with another person can be good fun, and despite the ability for both of you to have the same colored ship, the differences in design of these ships are enough to prevent confusion at least 90% of the time.

This game is difficult. One hit of damage equals death. Surviving requires a lot of skill, not only in evasion, but also in the intelligent use of polarity switching and special weapon usage. Thankfully, the controls are just about perfect. The hitbox for your ship is also effectively small, allowing you to narrowly scrape by along the side of a projectile or structure without taking damage. Of course, this doesn't appear to be the same for the enemies, as it's rather simple to target them.

A high score cannot be obtained by blasting everything on screen alone. Big points are rewarded to players who create "chain combos". The premise is that for every group of three similar-colored enemies you destroy, you add one chain onto your combo, with each successive chain granting exponentially more points. When three enemies are destroyed that are not all of the same polarity, the combo resets to zero. This adds a bit of a puzzle element to the game, as each level is designed to allow you to rake up an enormous combo by doing this.

Speaking of the levels, which come to five in total, it should be known that they play identically each time you go through them. This means that the same enemies always appear in the same location. However, this is nothing new for a shooter of this type. It can actually be fun to learn the patterns of the enemies and attempt to achieve higher combo counts, thus getting better at the game each time you play. The levels are also decent in length, contain totally unique and varied opposition, and increase steadily in difficulty. They also each come complete with their own huge boss that uses a completely original attacking pattern and requires a unique strategy (often utilizing polarity) to defeat it.

This leads into the game's graphics. The graphics are nothing technically impressive, as the number of objects that appear on screen at once are nothing compared to what the system is capable of rendering. However, that's not to say that the game looks bad. Actually, the game looks quite good. Your ship, the enemies, and all background structures use plenty of polygons, complete with sharp textures. Projectile sprites are high-resolution and look excellent, as mesmerizing patterns of multiple colors fill the screen. Enemies, and especially bosses, are nicely modeled, and feature unique, alien-like designs. The explosions are well done, and the boss explosions are huge and exceptional looking. Even the backdrops, though subdued in design, create the atmosphere nicely. Of course, with all of this extra system power to spare, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the frame rate is silky smooth.

The music is well-fitting for a shooter, and despite most of the tracks sounding similar, it makes for a good synthy soundtrack with some solid and unique melodies. I would recommend taking a listen, as it may grow on you. The sound effects are crisp as well, and suit the action-laden gameplay.

The story for this game is only found in the instruction manual, so it's obvious that it doesn't play an important part in the game, though it is actually pretty interesting, and sets a nice background for the game. There are a fair amount of options, gameplay modes, and unlockables available. Options include variations on difficulty and display orientations. Gameplay modes include Internet ranking, practice, and more. One gameplay mode allows you to watch a replay of an expert player going through a game section of your choice, which afterwards you practice using the same techniques in this section yourself. Yet, through all this, pure shooting action is what makes up the Ikaruga experience.

Ikaruga is a very good game, and an exceptionally good shooter. If you enjoy shooter games that mix skill, strategy, challenge, and innovation on a concentrated level, look no further than Ikaruga.
Ikaruga raped my mind...       Product Reviews
by: Anonymous       on: 28-Jul 2004

This game is hard. Prepare to have your brain raped and eyeballs spanked. If you love old-school twitch goodness that puts hair on your chest, buy this game, take it home, and be abused by gameplay. This game serves as a lesson to all you casual gamers (who I hate SO MUCH,) as to what a real gamer looks like. 3D graphics and exploration is great, (however, sports games are inexcusable...) but every once in a while, you need to bring it all back home. Take my advice, if you want your kids to grow up knowing what a VIDEO GAME!, (not a video game, but a VIDEO GAME!) looks like, then force them to play this along with all those great SNES games. It's a good thing.
Made Me Laugh Out Loud at the Learning Curve       Product Reviews
by: rukasu_b       on: 03-Jul 2004

I've always been a fan of the horizontal/vertical space shooter genre, and "Ikaruga" manages to roll up all the best stuff about each entry in that genre, and then, do it one better.

Made by the geniuses at Treasure, the team behind the legendary "Gunstar Heroes" (Genesis), "Ikaruga" is not your typical shoot-fest. The story is negligible, because you won't be seeing anything even vaguely related to it, and it's cut-and-dry, anyway. The meat of this game is definitely the hardcore, old-school-feeling gameplay. There can be hundreds of bullets on the screen at a time. However, the twist that "Ikaruga" introduces is that you don't necessarily have to dodge them all.

Your ship is unique in that it can change its magnetic alignment at any time with a press of the A button, from Black to White and back again, on the fly. If you are hit by a bullet of your ship's current color, you'll absorb the bullet and it will power up a set of special homing laser shots, and these homing lasers do ten times the damage of your normal cannon. Also, if you fire upon an opposite-colored ship, it will do twice the damage, but you will be vulnerable to its hostile fire.

The beauty is that no enemy is immune, really. Each one is colored black or white accordingly, and the bosses like to switch between the two periodically. Speaking of the bosses, they're very inventive and challenging, and will teach you how to die in many, many ways.

And you will die. A lot. Believe you me. I do consider myself something of an elite gamer, and this title continuously schools me; with only 3 credits at the start of the game, that makes this a very fun, very cool, but very, very hard title. Recommended? You better believe it.

Inventiveness: 8 (out of 10)
The extra black-and-white twist on a classic genre helps "Ikaruga" define itself as not just another difficult face.

Sound: 7.5
The sound effects are all mostly spot-on, but the music, while uplifting and appropo, seems to all carry the same hooks and themes, like one long continuous track.

Graphics: 7
While not the prettiest title out there, the graphical stylings do get their point across. However, exclusively considering this genre, Ikaruga's graphics are stellar.

Control: 9
While you may be wishing you had a "kill everything on the screen" button every now and again, Ikaruga handles almost flawlessly. It's mastering your little ship that will test your patience, not mastering the controls.

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Overall Score: 8
The bottom line: a game that will make you laugh with joy at the gimmick and groan with pain at the difficulty.



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