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Ikaruga


by John Erikson - 14th Apr 2008
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The Dreamcast and Gamecube arcade shooter Ikaruga has finally made its way onto Xbox live, in the shape of an enhanced version costing only 800 gamer points. Can it capture the magic of the original title which is now hailed as a classic?

Ikaruga has only five stages however to complete them will take every last reserve of gaming prowess. This is strictly an old school shooter so it will require trial and error and an itchy trigger finger to nail some of the more difficult sections. The alien patterns are both complex and confusing and quite often you will need to store them into memory to progress that little bit further. It is surprising just how addictive this game is once it gets the hooks into you with many a day passing into early morning!


The whole basis of Ikaruga is the polarity system, enemies arrive in two colours and you have to switch your polarity to match . This system is quite simple yet ingenious, if the enemies are firing black bullets and you are black then you absorb the attack to be stored for use as a super bomb (and vice versa for white). This is not only used for power ups but at times your colour decision can make the difference between life and death as the screen fills up with bullets. Interestingly, your choice of colour has an effect when attacking as opposed colours do more damage on the foes you are attempting to obliterate. This means there is a certain requirement to know what is coming up next as high scores can only be earned by chaining together attacks on like-coloured foes in groups of three. Whether the thought of memorising game levels appeals to you or not is down to the individual player however it certainly adds some length to the gameplay.


Enemy patterns are preprogrammed and never fluctuate so a lot of success is down to your ability to be able to store patterns in your head, this can be quite off putting however to a casual gamer as it becomes very intense later on. The difficulty level starts off relatively easy however it is not long before the intensity heightens and total concentration will be required to have any possibility for success.

In today's Xbox 360 store environment many companies are just releasing shoddy game after another hoping to sell on name alone, however Game developer Treasure should be applauded for not delivering a simple port of the original game. They have built in leaderboards so you can follow your progress and compare your ability to gamers across the globe and you can even download saved recordings of these top players to watch how they etched out those killer high scores. Obviously you can save your own scores as well, however while I can play the game pretty well, it will be some time before I am putting my videos online for everyone to see.


Being a vertical scrolling shooter which was never designed for widescreen tv's, there is plenty of unused screen real estate on either side of the gaming area however the quality of the graphics in high definition are a massive improvement and should satisfy long standing fans of the original.

Additionally there is online, offline and system co operative play and I am pleased to say I have yet to experience any form of online lag at all. That said, the game is already complex enough with one ship on screen, with two, it becomes an utterly frantic mish-mash of bullets and sprites. Of course it's great playing with a friend, but my favourite moments all came from the single player mode.


All game options are fully customisable, button configurations, heads up display areas and well as swivelling options (if you have a TV that can swivel vertically).

Ikagura is the cream of the crop of arcade shooters on Xbox live, it is extremely challenging and will bring back many memories for fans of the original title. It is extremely difficult, so gamers just out for a quick adrenaline rush may be overwhelmed, however with a little perseverance the rewards are there to be reapt.


At this price it is an absolute steal and will pass many a late night.

Gameplay
86/100
A blast from the past, expertly programmed.
Graphics
75/100
Obviously not Gears Of War, but perfectly acceptable for the genre.
Sound
82/100
Very little repetition and considering you will die a few thousand times that is quite exceptional.
Value
88/100
For the price it is a steal.
Overall
(Not an Average)
87/100
An excellent game for all you Xbox 360 arcade gamer fans.

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