Review: Ikaruga

IKARUGA

Developed: Treasure
Published: Atari
Platform: Gamecube

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From Treasure (the gaming gods that brought you Stretch Panic, Gunstar Heroes and more) comes old school vertically scrolling, alien blasting, bullet spewing action. But Treasure (read: gameplay innovation 24/7) delivers much more than the old school shot/bomb convention. Ships and enemies are of either white or black “polarity” and so are the bullets they fire. With the option to instantly toggle your ship’s polarity, you can absorb attacks of matching color and use the increased effectiveness of reverse polarity against enemies of opposite color. Pile on a combo system that rewards destroying multiple enemies of the same color and you have a game that demands unearthly precise reflexes and an aptitude for trivial memorization that rivals Rainman. I’d still prefer a straight-ahead “stuff-a-barrel-in-your-face-sucka” shooter, but the very well designed levels and bullet waves make the polarity scheme a legitimate game enhancement. For those of you who were among the record breaking number of shoppers who imported this game for Dreamcast last year (and shame on you if you didn’t,) you’ll notice no meaningful difference graphically. This is still a classy looking shooter, although the gameplay doesn’t allow for flashy, gonzo firepower that make Cave-style shooters so appealing. The only difference I noticed, besides the text being in English, is the inclusion of a 1/2 speed “demo play” of advanced level-mastering strategies and a slow-mo option to let the player feebly attempt to match them.

This game is more fun than tennis balls soaked with gasoline, but it will kick your ass faster than De La Hoya. If you have any gaming pride though, you’ll take your licking and come back to spank it like a small child, someday.

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