(GCN / GameCube)

Ikaruga (GCN / GameCube)

Game Review

Ikaruga Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Ikaruga might not be quite as intricate as its predecessor Radiant Silvergun, but its added intensity more than makes up for it.

There are very few shooters that can bring a smile to a shooter fan's face quite like Ikaruga can - which brings me to my quandry. What can I say about Ikaruga that hasn't already been said a hundred times before. It's easily one of the greatest shooters ever made. And trust me, it won't take you long to figure out why that is. Ikaruga creates one of the most playable shooter experiences ever crafted and forces you to not only be quick and agile, but also smart as well. As good as its pseudo-prequel Radiant Silvergun is, Ikaruga still manages to step things up a few notches and presents some unique improvements over its predecessor.

While there's still plenty of 'shoot first and ask questions later' style gameplay strung throughout the game, Ikaruga adds a unique element called "polarity" to the mix to stir things up a bit. There are two types of enemies and enemy fire in the game - Dark and Light. It's usually quite easy to tell the difference between the two and it's this unique element that makes the game so difficult to master. Your ship also has these two polarities as well, and when your ship is of the same polarity as the enemy fire, it will absorb these enemy bullets and convert them into energy that can be used for a special attack.

As this energy builds, it will fill up your Homing Missile guage which will allow you to let loose a special attack using these specific missiles. How many missiles that fire off depends on how full your gauge is at the time the attack is executed. The downside to this polarity scheme is that if your ship is hit with a bullet of the opposite polarity, it will explode and you'll lose one of your ships. You can switch polarity on the fly with a quick press of a button and you'll have to learn how to do this early and often if you're to have any chance of surviving for very long in this game.

The play control in Ikaruga is spot on perfect. Your ship is extremely responsive to even the slightest movement, and the hit detection is also very well done in the way a bullet or enemy has to hit the actual cockpit of your ship in order to destroy it. This will allow you to easily maneuver around enemies and their bullets with great ease. Trust me, you'll find this grazing movement very handy going up against some of the relentless attacks of the various bosses in the game.

While there are only five levels in the game, the difficulty is so high you'll spend many hours trying to get through them. It's been said that playing Ikaruga is a bit like standing with your arms down at your side while someone repeatedly punches you in the face. While that might be a bit harsh, it goes to show you how difficult the game truly is. The good news is that while it is extremely difficult, it's difficult in a very playable way that just takes a lot of practice in order to master. There's absolutely nothing cheap about Ikaruga.

The visuals in Ikaruga are breathtaking, to say the least. The 3-D polygonal visuals are superb and show just how talented the Treasure development team is. With all of the gorgeous backdrops and dizzying rotation, there's enough eye candy in this game to last you a lifetime. Even the particle effects are stunning, not to mention the enormous bosses you'll go up against. About the only complaint that could be leveled against the beautiful visuals in the game is the fact that you won't have a lot of time to sit back and admire the scenery. In all honesty, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more visually impressive shooter on the Gamecube console.

As if the responsive play control and gorgeous visuals weren't enough, Treasure still managed to find time to create a wonderful musical score for the game as well. While most of the music is synthesized, it's executed so well that it comes off with more of an orchestrated sound to it. The game even features a really cool, although rather difficult to understand, robotic voice that will announce combo chains and other specific events that are taking place in each level. It's a small touch, but a very nifty one nonetheless. As outstanding as the soundtrack in Radiant Silvergun was, Ikaruga's soundtrack definitely gives it a serious run for its money.


When it's all said and done, there's really nothing more to say except that if you're a shooter fan, you absolutely must own at least one version of this masterpiece. There aren't many shooters on the planet that can stand toe to toe with the mighty Ikaruga and even at the $80+ the Gamecube version of the game sells for on many auction sites nowadays, it's still more than worth the price of admission. One word of advice, though. If you're going to succeed at Ikaruga, you'd better bring your "A" game for this one or you'll get your butt handed to you on a silver platter. Of course, that's what ultimately makes the game so much fun to play. It's very easy to pick up and play, but nearly impossible to master. Just ask anyone that's played it and actually lived to tell about it.

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User Comments (25)



thewiirocks said:

Corbie, there's a bug in your scoring algorithm. It should be this:

function getScore() {
if(developer == "Treasure") return 10;
else return 7;

Please fix this bug as soon as possible. KTHXBYE.

(In case it's not clear, Ikaruga is quite possibly the best shoot'em up ever. IMHO, anyway. Corbie probably disagrees with me on that particular point. But not by too much, I imagine. )



Corbs said:

The only shmups I'd dare give a 10 to are Deathsmiles, Dodonpachi, or Gate of Thunder. Ikaruga is phenomenal, but not quite a 10 in my book.



Twilight_Crow said:

Great review and perfect score, this game is one of my beloved treasures (pun intended), it's soooo hard and yet so fun.



Outrunner said:

The best shooter I've played. Treasure really know how to take a certain genre and make it feel fresh and exciting. Ikaruga deserves a 10.
I couldn't believe it when I found it selling for £20. I'd been looking for it for ages and there it was dirt cheap. I still have my GCN copy but I downloaded the XBLA version so it doesn't get played much now.



Corbs said:

I have the Gamecube and Dreamcast versions of the game, but I too normally stick to the XBLA version nowadays.



Omega said:

This is one of the hardest games I've ever played. The difficulty is so horrible and sinister that only the hardest of the hard shoot'em up fans can enjoy this.
My summary: Definitely not for everyone.



Damo said:

Awesome review Corbie, as always! While I prefer Radiant Silvergun, this is still an amazing shooter.



antdickens said:

@thewiirocks, I think there is a bug in your function, surely you need to pass in developer?

function getScore (developer) {
if(developer == "Treasure") return 10;
else return 7;




Dazza said:

Great review Corbinator, of course I agree completely, but Maddox's review is still the best for this line:

"When I say this game is hard, I mean hard like nipples-on-a-blind-lesbian-in-a-fish-market hard."

I have to agree completely, level 1 is tame, level 2 challenging and levels 3,4,5 requiring OCD levels of memorisation!

Still an absolutely amazing game, I love it. The best version now (imho) is the 360 XBLA version because you can watch the replays from the best players in the world and there is a online scoreboard... of course purists would only be caught playing the Dreamcast version wouldn't they?



thewiirocks said:

@Corbie - Gate of Thunder? Really? It's a great shmup, but I'd never think of it as better than Ikaruga. At best I'd say it's the pinnacle of the old-style shmups before power-ups started getting played down.

@pHaT-aNt_ - Sorry 'bout that. I write too much Javascript these days. The full code would look something like this:

function Game(name, developer, publisher)
this.getName = function() { return name; };
this.getDeveloper = function() { return developer; };
this.getPublisher = function() { return publisher; };
this.getScore = function() {
if(developer == "Treasure") return 10;
else return 7;

var game = new Game("Ikaruga", "Treasure", "Atari");
alert(game.getName()+" has the awesome score of "+game.getScore());



Bahamut_ZERO said:

Fantastic review Corbie. Iwas gonna buy Pac Man Championship for XBLA, but I think Ill get this instead.

On another note, I read through all NL reviews and there a lot of 9s I need to buy. Curse my oath



Corbs said:

I own over 250 shmups and Gate of Thunder is at the very top of the list. I'm talking numero UNO! I consider it to be the finest shooter made by human hands. But Dodonpachi and Deathsmiles are close behind.



Ricardo91 said:

@Corbie. I'm surprised that you of all people didn't give this game a 10. I remember you saying once that this is your most-played game ever, and you've given it lavish praise before.

I can't wait to download this game off XBLA.... When I get my 360 in June.



Corbs said:

It is a game that I've played more of than just about any other, but that's only because it took me so long to beat it. Gate of Thunder, while I consider it to be a better game, wasn't nearly as tough to beat.



Bahamut_ZERO said:

@Corbie: Whats the difference between the ships? Is it just looks or is there something else. Another thing, on the XBLA version, how do you download other people's replays?

I bought it, and think its great. Hardest thing ever, but like MM9, I do it casually to aviod frustration. Play a bit, die a few time, play something else, come back when I only have 20 minutes of free time, etc. Considering I still see this is Gamestop for $50 bucks, Im so glad I bought the better, HD version for $10



SwerdMurd said:

Mushihime mops the floor with Dodonpachi...a pain to get a japanese copy and a PS2 to play it on, but I just cannot get enough of it...I remember really liking Guwange too...bullet freezing rocked. GoT seemed so average to me ...could never figure out why it got so much acclaim...always liked the Thunderforce series better...

Still, best shmup ever is Hotdog Storm Best shmup music anyway...

^^and Bahamut, only difference between the two ships (if you're referring to 1st and 2nd player ships) is on-screen spawn location (left 3rd vs. right 3rd) and shape of the ship...some people find 2nd player ship's shape (rounder) makes it easier to see the hit-box, and thusly dodge bullets....I honestly did most of my practice with 1st player so I'm more comfortable, but there's almost no discernable difference



Bahamut_ZERO said:

@Swerd: No, it allows you to chose from the Ikaruga and something with a really long name that begins with a G in single player.



Corbs said:

I have the Mushihimesama pcb as well, but I still don't put it up there with Dodonpachi, Deathsmiles, and Ibara. It's great, but not that great. I even prefer the Espgaluda games over it. And Guwange is a bit too oddball for my tastes.

I still need to 1cc Muchi Muchi Pork as well. Maybe after we get this site up and running smoothly, I can hop on the Egret II cabinet and get some serious shooting done. Of course I've still got Harmful Park that I haven't touched since I got it two weeks ago, as well. Too many shooters, too little time.




To corbie i quote: The only shmups I'd dare give a 10 to are Deathsmiles, Dodonpachi, or Gate of Thunder. Ikaruga is phenomenal, but not quite a 10 in my book. ......ok cool,i own the death smiles, don pachi, do don donpachi arcade boards and those games are great! i play them alot, i also own gate of thunder on turbo duo and not that great ! good but not great,the sequel lords of thunder blows it away!! i've been playing shmups since i was 10 and i'll be 33 this july but what do i know? (no offense) But none the less your ikaruga review was really good,thumbs up.

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