Platform: Xbox 360 (via XBLA, 800 points
Grade: 9 / 10
There was a time before save points, where only pure wit and
memorization led to the credits. Old school gamers always seem to relish this
time, but forget some of the anguish that came with the repetition of facing a
boss six or seven times as he killed you.
Sure there was a difficulty attached, but those who are used
to the relative comfort of todays games would find it difficult even to push
through the easiest of levels.
Even so, there were the best of this period that captured
your imagination, so you were willing to slay the evil doers once more.
Ikaruga is a prime
example, with its furious straight forward gameplay and addicting level design.
Even with its unforgiving gameplay, it leaves you wanting even more.
As previously hinted, the most addicting and oddly
satisfying thing about Ikaruga is its
difficulty. There is constant ship
movement, gun fire, and boss battles that will strain your thumbs to dodge. But
within that is the games genius, as youre not asked to dodge all of the
bullets coming towards you, but your ship has the ability to absorb bullets of
the same color.
You dont just have the ability to absorb the bullets, but
you are encouraged to. Bullet absorption gives your ship an extra ability to
fire homing beacons at your enemy. This can help when you need to eliminate a
boss or get some of the ships off your back to breathe a bit.
This game isnt really long though, clocking in at five
levels, but you wont notice. Each level feels just right, and feels satisfying
when you complete them. And you wll be playing them often, as enemies are quite
Adding to the replay value, aside from your rising death
count, is the grade you receive - ranking from C to S. The grade is based on
your score, which is increased by knocking out combos of three enemies of the
same color. This not only takes a quick trigger finger, but patience and
awareness, as things often get quite hectic.
Like most games that receive the Xbox Live treatment, you
can expect score tracking against your friends. It makes for quite the contest
especially when you both are looking to be King of the Hill on your friends
list. Also, this game does get a graphical bump from its predecessors on the
Gamecube and the Dreamcast. The picture comes in a bit clearer, and the levels
are that much crisper.
Unlike most things retro, this game is worth remembering. Failure
does loom around every corner, and there are no real crutches to help, but it
makes it that much more satisfying.
Do yourself a favor, and enjoy one of the best ways to spend
your Xbox Live points. There may be cursing and controller throwing in your
future, but there are few games which can match Ikarugas satisfaction.
Whenever he isnt contemplating a world takeover, you can find Adam Thomas building the Gamer Studio. For now, join the support and catch
some cool screen shots at Myspace.com/thegamerstudio