Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Ikaruga is Here - Prepare to get Totally Pwned
"I will not die until I achieve something.
Even though the ideal is high, I never give in.
Therefore, I never die with regrets."
-Ikaruga Chapter 1 Prologue
Ikaruga pwns me like few games before ever have. As in Chronicles of Riddick, "I'll kill you with my teacup" pwnage. This is the rare shooter that makes beating something like R-Type, Triggerheart Excelica, Omega 5, 1942, Einhander, and Gradius 5, all in a row without dying, seem rather pedestrian by comparison. Ok so maybe Im exagerrating a wee bit, but you get the point. The game on its default setting is hardcore. On hard mode, its positively ridiculous.
The heart of the gameplay is the swappable polarity of your attack/defense mechanism. To properly clear the stages and get the highest score, you need to constantly switch between light and dark polarity chaining combos. Sometimes, you need to switch several times per second. requires intense concentration, total stage memorization, cat like reflexes, and incredible willpower to not flick the controller through the television screen while screaming "NOOOOOO!!!!" when you go dark when you should have stayed light. But the mechanic is ingenius and as you become used to it the game's brilliance shines through.
Is it the greatest shoot em up game ever made? Its hard to say. For a lot of people, the challenge is just way, way, WAY too hard. But for real dedicated shmup fans? This isnt just a classic. This is the creme de la creme. It certainly isnt a "fun" or relaxing game by normal standards, maybe after you have mastered it. Its pure intensity. This isnt a game thats meant to be played occasionally. If you want to beat this game on hard and get a huge score, clear out your gaming calender for the next week.
But is it a great game? Oh, most certainly. Great games make great gamers, and this is a game that has created legends. If you have the time to play it a lot, the patience, and the skill, the game is easily worth 800 points. The level designs and bosses are fantastic, the graphics are still quite good, and there is online coop, leaderboards, and downloadable replays. Not that many shooters are worth the time and dedication- Ikaruga is one of the rare few, and this XBLA port is the best version of the game to date.
And Yes, there is a rating above S+. Check out Erik's IGN video review.