Review by cuccoo
Reviewed: 09/17/02 | Updated: 09/17/02
Old school shooter never gets old
Ikaruga is a vertical shoot'em up game, released on arcade last year and was ported to Dreamcast recently. Basically you are controlling an object (plane) and try to shoot enemy units and try to avoid them, and their bullets. However, there are more than that in Ikaruga but I'll discuss it in Gameplay section.
The conversion is arcade perfect.
Graphic - A
I'm playing the game on 19'' monitor with VGA cable, and the graphic was absolutely beautiful. It also looks 10x better when I play it with the fullscreen/vertical mode (so I have to rotate my monitor). The effects are great, from the super shoot, enemies animation, explosion and the close up view of our spaceship (right after each level intro). Also the game's object are all in 3D I think. It is also quite amazing how they pull it off since they game basically revolve around two color-combo; white/blue and black/red.
Sound/Music - A
Sound effects are pretty standard, nothing too special or too lacking. The music, however, is pretty cool. I'm sure a lot of people will dig the music once they get to the first boss. It is really inspiring and make you want to play more, and fast.
Gameplay - A
Ok, now we have arrived at the heart of the game. As I mentioned in the intro paragraph, Ikaruga is a SHMUP (shoot'em up). However, it has some little twist within the game, just like Psyvariar.
The control of Ikaruga is pretty simple. Originally it was a two-button game. However, the game essential has 3 types of basic action so a third button can be used. Here are the actions:
B............ switch color
A+B (or C)... supershot
There are two types of spaceship, white and black. White objects shoot white bullets and black objects shoot black bullets. Now, your spaceship can switch between those color. You simply absorb the bullets with the same color as your spaceship, and avoid those with opposite color. When you absorb bullets, your supershot bar will be filled and when you absorb enough, you can do a super shot. Also, if you shoot enemies of your opposite color you will do double damage, instead of normal damage.
Besides the basic gameplay, you can also take advantage of the ''chaining'' system to rack up tons of points. A chain simply means you have to shoot 3 enemies of the same color in a row. The next row can be that any color, but once you shoot the first enemy the next two enemies must be from the same color (there is an indicator within the interface to tell you which color are you chaining now). When you fail to do that, your chain is broken and have to start from 0 again.
It may sound a little complicated but its very simple and intuitive once you pick up your arcade stick (I hope you got one, because you will NEED it). This game is FUN, ADDICTIVE, FAST-PACED, SHORT (meaning you can complete it in one sitting then move on with your life). These are the typical characteristic of GREAT arcade game.
Replay value - B
Bonus - C
The reason I put these two together is because the replay value is somewhat dependant on the bonuses given.
Well, as you have probably know arcade games live and die by their replay value. Ikaruga is no different. Being only a few minutes long per level (only 5 levels), this game is insane short. The concept of the game is A-grade quality for replay in arcade, but this is a home-version we are talking now.
The reason it gets B for replay value is because you basically get the arcade game, with one little extra. We need more levels (maybe in the form of arranged mode, or extra mode). The only gameplay related feature from the minimum bonus (gallery, sound test, prototype), is the prototype spaceship which is basically a modified form of the normal model. There is almost no difference in the experience.
But, who need extras anyway? This game is great on its own, I can easily clock 30-40 hours in my first month. And maybe if you are not an expert in SHMUP, the high difficulty will be an incentive to make you play more.
Bottom line - SUPERB game. I will continue to revisit this game in years to come.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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