Shoot’em ups, commonly called schmups, are very familiar to most gamers since they’ve been around for a very long time. But with time, it seems that what was once targeted at casual gamers is now targeted at hardcore gamers. With the advancements in technology, I can understand why they have become less popular because they don’t offer the kind of spectacular graphics other shooting games like Star Wars Rogue Squadron or Crimson Skies offer. Schmups still offer a huge challenge that very few gamers will be able to complete without hours of practice.
Ikaruga is kind of like the old Galaga game, but at the same time it takes the genre to a new level. You have a small ship that you control. You can shoot bullets or charge up by absorbing the enemy’s bullets and then releasing it to create e a very powerful attack. You can change your ship’s color to either black or white and you can only absorb the bullets of your color, while the other color will hurt you. In fact, in this type of game, you get killed with only one hit. That’s what makes this game extremely difficult! You can also do chains (killing enemies in succession) to make combos and earn more points. This is the kind of game that is easy to pick up since the controls are extremely simple (you use only 3 buttons), but it is extremely difficult to master! Since the enemies always attack you in the same way, you’ll have to learn the patterns of every stage to make as much chains as possible in order to score more points and then you can post your scores on the Internet and compare them with those of the best players in the world! In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ll want to practice just to see if you can get your name on the ladder!
This game contains only 5 stages, which isn’t that much compared by today’s standards, but still, believe me, you’ll want to come back and play some more. In fact, this isn’t the type of game you play to death until you finish it. You’ll mostly play like half an hour or a full hour, then play something else, then come back to it, then play something else, etc. This is the kind of game that you play when you don’t know what to do because it is easy to pick up and enjoy, even if only for a few minutes.
Since this was originally a Naomi based Arcade game that was ported to Dreamcast and then to GameCube, you have Dreamcast quality graphics, which isn’t a bad thing, since it was one of the most spectacular games on Dreamcast and it still holds up to other GCN games graphically. The game goes extremely fast so you better try not to blink on certain parts, or you’ll probably get killed! There isn’t much variety in colors, since all the enemies are either black or white, and the environments textures are pretty generic, but this was probably done deliberately by the developers to fit the black and white theme. The framerate is constant throughout the whole game, with the only slowdown happening when the stage’s boss dies since it creates a huge explosion that slows down the game.
As for the music, it fits the game extremely well, since the tracks really put you in the action. It’s your typical video game music, so you either like it or not, but since your a gamer you should enjoy it, right?. The sound effects are your typical explosion sounds and the game only runs in stereo (no surround option), but I don’t know if that would have been possible on this kind of game anyway.
Overall, it is a nice game to pick up since it doesn’t cost that much and because you’ll play it a lot and with time, hopefully, get better, you can then show you, friends, how good you are at video games. Play first so they think it’s easy, and then let them play and laugh when they get killed, I’m sure you’ll have a good time!