Review by Turbo Speed
"Are shooters dead? No, but this game could kill them."
It all started with Atari and Treasure. Atari was around in the 1980's and had a successful system known as the 2600. Atari had been doing great until their best developers and programmers left Atari. Atari began to fall apart from the 7500 to the Jaguar with the Lynx and Atari Phone System all in between. All of Atari's systems after that fell apart in less than a few years. Atari then seemed to fall apart throughout the 1990's. Nobody knew that Atari existed anymore. Rest assure you, the Atari company did not go out of business or bankrupt. Atari took a long break throughout the 1990's. Eventually, Atari came back as a third-party developer and publisher for all systems so far except X-Box.
On the other hand was Treasure, a small third-party developer with a reputation that showed they knew what a system could really do when they released Gunstar Heroes on Sega Genesis. Treasure developed quite a few games that didn't sell much, but those who played their games felt they had found hidden game treasures.
About a year before Atari returned, Ikaruga was first released in Japanese arcades and soon became the #1 shooter of the year in Japan. Then in 2002, it was sent to the Japanese Dreamcast (Yes, Sega Dreamcast is still alive and well in Japan.) and became a hit in Europe. Back in America, Atari began publishing the Backyard Sports series on PS2 and publishing other assorted games on Gamecube (GCN). Atari and Treasure then got together and translated, published and worked on the American version of Ikaruga, a game that everyone seemed to love. Everyone's demand for Ikaruga increased and the people wanted more from this game. IGN.com quoted on Ikaruga-
"Our frothing demand for this game increases."
Yuck, that's a cheesier quote than the one from the back of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles box! But, you may now be asking "What does 'frothing' mean?" If not, you may be asking instead "Is this game really worth the buy?" Ikaruga may not be worth the buy to some people. In fact, Ikaruga is only worth a rental to me. The game seems a bit mediocre in my eyes at best.
The graphics in Ikaruga are beautiful in my eyes and are the strongest point in the game. I'd like to give the graphic artists a pat on the back for a job well done and beat the programmers of this game with a huge, nasty stick! The polarities are both well detailed and well colored. The level designs are amazing and detailed at every small point the human eye can see. But good graphics DO NOT make a great game most of the time. If the graphics were poor or average, I would have given Ikaruga a 3!
Remember, good graphics DO NOT make a great game most of the time. Gameplay is the most important thing about any game and its gameplay.
The music is very hard to notice. You may not consider listening to it. If you can notice the music, it's orchestra music that's supposed to give the game a dramatic atmosphere. The game music sounds sort of plain at times.
Let me just ask if you know what innovation means. Innovation is experimenting on certain gameplay elements to see if the newly created gameplay is any good. Treasure and Atari got creative and used a polarity idea. They might have been working on this polarity idea when they were drunk and getting attacked by a swarm of Africanized Killer Bees. The idea was bad. You had to constantly switch polarity during boss battles. When you had one certain polarity, you could absorb attacks on the same polarity and destroy enemies with opposite polarity twice as fast as with the same polarity or vice versa. There are only two polarities. There was a white polarity and a black polarity to work with. This type of gameplay got a little old. The controls on the other hand were just fine. The controls were easy to adjust to and reaction time was just right.
This polarity idea was just not going to work at all. Who do they think they're fooling?
You are some Japanese guy who needs to save his home world from some generic evil empire. You try to stop them the first time and fail miserably. You crash in a village called Ikaruga. The villagers there know about how you are trying to stop the bad guys and offer to fix up your ship. If you are playing two player mode, some other guy who worked for the bad guys turns to your side and wants to destroy the bad guys as much as you do. When the villagers finished fixing your ship, your character named it Ikaruga in honor of the village and the villagers. Now you leave to the first level and start.
A bit generic, but gets the job done.
Difficulty 9/10 You must be at the status of a god or higher to pass this game.
The difficulty is so horrible and sinister that I listed it in its own section in this review! Let's just say that you may need to buy extra Wavebird controllers because you might break them due to losing on the final level and going all the way back to the first level in frustration. I had this misfortune happen to me multiple time and.....AAAAUUUGGGGHHHHH!!
Replay Value 4/10
There are not many things worth unlocking in Ikaruga. The different modes are all the same as the arcade version with a few minor extras thrown in. Unlocking them is ridiculous. If you beat arcade mode under a certain criteria, you unlock the game with infinite lives. The only big problem is the ridiculous difficulty.
Buy or Rent?
As I said in the introduction, Ikaruga is only worth a rental. The difficulty and poor gameplay draws the line of this game between crap and a wet constipation.
-Dishing out all the money for extra controllers
-Difficulty may turn off casual gamers
-Knowing the fact that you must be a god or some kind of super dedicated nerd to beat this game.
My Grand Total 5/10
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 12/22/03, Updated 06/18/04
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