Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Review: Ikaruga

Ikaruga (2008)
Developer: Treasure Video Games
Platform: X-Box 360
Purchase Date: 04/09/2008


It is finally here... A re-release of the grandest order. Ikaruga has arrived on X-Box Live and it is easily THE must have arcade download for the system. For those who are interested to read more praises I have written about this game, go to my Top 10 Greatest Games of All Time page.

High philosophy. Great graphics. Stirring soundtracks.

Ikaruga is a shooter where you control a ship that can switch polarities between white and black. You absorb enemy shots of your current polarity and you cause double damage to the enemies with the opposite polarity. This concept is then explored to its max throughout the game with clever enemy patterns and deviously brilliant bosses. It takes a while to enable your brain to constantly switch focus between the dual polarity mechanics but as the saying goes, if there is a will, there is a way.

Your eyes will bleed and so will your heart!

Here are the reasons why you have to get the game even if you already own the great import Dreamcast version or the mediocre U.S. GameCube effort. Firstly, you do not have to rotate your screen anymore to see the game in its full resolution. The option is there to flip the screen so that you can minimize the side borders but as we all know, that is only practical if you are using a computer screen that you can rotate appropriately. On the default vertical setting, the game has never looked better. Secondly, unlike the castrated GameCube version where all the moody, philosophical text were removed from the game, this one has them fully translated, further heightening the spiritual, adult atmosphere of the game. Thirdly, the 2-player option can be enjoyed online. I have never played this game with another person and as exciting as this feature may be, I soon discovered that Ikaruga is meant to be played as a single player experience unless you and the other player has a specific plan on how to tackle each stage of the game - this is the only shooter that mandates such commitments between two people playing cooperatively. Make sure to find a player with the connection status of no less than 2 bars to ensure zero lag and unfair deaths. Last but not least, you can upload your replay and download others'. What is the next best thing to playing Ikaruga? Watching a great player plays the game!

It is easier than it looks... Open your mind.

There are a couple of things missing that could have been included to make this release beyond perfection. The dreamy start up screen where you see the main character, Shinra, walking in a haze didn't make the cut. Also, they could have included a translated copy of the Dreamcast's instruction manual and the bonus story content so that new players can get into the meat of the story. Even though the text in-game is rich enough for the ponderous mind, many will be scratching their heads trying to figure out what is really going on. Thank goodness there is GameFaqs to help with that but it is a missed opportunity to gain more diehard fanatics who understand the true meaning behind the pilots' climactic action and its effect. Though some enemy patterns were changed in this version, it should encourage veterans to try and master through them as they were obviously intentional.

There is a method to the madness.

Treasure is the one of the most talented developers in the industry and the game's creator, Hiroshi Iuchi, is a master of the shooter genre. Perhaps we can see Radiant Silvergun, the game's spiritual prequel, making it to X-Box Live for that would be a wonderful blessing. There is supposed to be another sequel coming out if all the old rumors are still true and the X-Box Live would be the perfect platform for it. Get this game or get out of gaming!

RATING: 5 out of 5

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