Heeeeeyyyy Ikaruga!

Wow…from Import game store NCS

Ikaruga is the best selling game in our company’s history. It sold more copies in 3 days than nearly a full year of Shenmue 2 [EUR] sales, our second best selling product ever. Both games, notably, are for the Dreamcast. DC and old school Saturn titles round out our top 10 sellers of all time.

Anyone get it yet? Mine won’t arrive until Tuesday of next week. I’m on pins and needles waiting for it. Anoop has a blurb on it at IGN today and claims its superb. http://cube.ign.com/articles/370/370254p1.html

–Dave

I’m not impressed. It ain’t no Radiant Silvergun, I’ll say that.

Anoop’s easily impressed by any and all things Sega.

Ikaruga has incredibly short levels, uninspired technoscapes (unlike the cleverness and originality of RS), and weak boss designs. THe chaining system is fun, but the lack of scenery and interesting enemy designs brings it down and makes it really repetitive. Did I mention that the five levels are all ridiculously short?

Music is top notch, though, and the graphic/ssfx are probably the best of any shooter to date.

I’m liking it quite a lot, though it all boils down to the actual gameplay. The criticisms Doug leveled at it are valid ones, and I doubt it will be as well recieved as RS. However, I find the way the game actually plays is an elegant distillation of what I enjoy about shooters and Treasure’s general tweaking of established genres. It comes off as a mixture of RS, Silhouette Mirage, and uh, Pac Man. Even though it lacks a lot of the elements you take for granted in a shooter (such as powerups and multiple weapons), it requires more technique than just about any vertical scroller than I’ve played. And re: the lack of powerups - I find it a little refreshing to not end up totally screwed when you die fighting a boss and lose all the crap you’ve collected.

-Matthew

I’ve played the game quite a bit now and I think you’re pretty jaded Doug. This game is top notch. The black/white system is super entertaining and forces you to think while you shoot. I find myself even getting tricked into shooting one color and switching then dying because the enemy I shot just sent a hail of bullets (power-ups for the color I shot them with) my way. The cool thing is I know immediately that it was my fault I died.

I’m not sure how you think these five levels are any shorter than any other recent shooter. I’ve only gotten slightly past the second boss so far and I’ve put in a good three or four hours. I don’t use continues because I think they artificially shorten shooters. These games are designed to be finished on one credit and just plopping in another credit doesn’t do it for me. There’s no challenge and no sense of accomplishment when you lawn mow the game with credits. That said…I needed the extra credits to see past the second boss…

This game is the whole package. The graphics are phenomenal and prove once again that the Dreamcast is definitely a next-gen machine. I saw one review complain about slowdown when the bosses die… it’s there for effect fools! Music is great… and I love how it’s timed to coincide with events in the game. When you see the Chapter 1 text and blast into the level… the subdued underground sounds of the second Chapter… Hell, even the vocoded voices for menu selection, chaining are top notch. Back to gameplay and the chaining is extremely cool. I’ve gotten a 28 chain already and I’m always looking for things in threes now. That’s one thing I haven’t seen noted anywhere… you can finish the first level with over a million points (1/3 of the way to an extra ship) if you chain like a madman.

This is what games are all about for me. There’s a simple, yet very deep and effective gameplay design at work here. One review noted that Ikaruga is an exercise in restraint and I agree 100% with that. It’s got all the things you expect in a shooter…incredible graphics (those textures on the bosses are intricate and amazing), strong soundtrack and most importantly and shooting system that reveals its depth the longer you play. The patterns in the levels are always evident yet not always easy to conquer. This is Treasure’s strongest game since the inimitable Explosion Invincible, Bangai-O!

Two player brings all kinds of new fun to the table too. Ships can bump each other (no moving through your pal) and the use of white and black in two player requires communication. If your pal destroys a large enemy setting off a hail of white and you’re shooting black, you can become instant pincushion. We played for a reasonable length of time last night in two player and it’s definitely something new.

I guess I’m saying that this game deserves any and all praise it gets. It’s top notch shooting entertainment. Radiant Silvergun was probably better, but in a lot of ways it’s also more conventional. Ikaruga’s gameplay is a nice rethink of shooter dynamics. I like Matthew’s use of Pac-Man in his mixture…that’s an accurate description of this great game.

–Dave

Damn, Dave, leave something for the rest of us to say…

Got my copy for the Cube last week and played it like mad through the weekend. I spent the first several hours thinking that chains had to be one color the whole way through (d’oh!), but once I figured out how it really works I was able to string a 59 chain together on level one. I was pretty impressed with myself for about ten minutes. Then I saw a forum post on GameFAQs where people were getting chains up around 117 on that level. One guy had managed to string a chain all the way through the game. Bastards.

I have to disagree with Doug on, well, everything, but especially the boss battles comment. Chapter one’s boss is pretty simple, yeah, but they’re just getting you warmed up. Chapter two’s takes it up a notch but is the same basic idea. From there on the battles are great.

It took me a while to complete chapter three, but I didn’t mind practicing that one over and over because it was so much fun. Weaving in and out of those rotating boxes, switching back and forth between black and white and squeezing in a missle shot here and there was really cool. Almost forgot about the mini-boss on this level. That guy wrecked me for the longest time, which just made it more satisfying when I got good at beating him silly.

Chapter four is arguably one of the hardest levels/missions/whatevers I’ve played in a long time. That second section with the rotating satellite is insane. And I’ve only managed to actually destroy the boss two times, winning by surviving the time limit the others.

Chapter five has a few decent boss battles, but the one before last is excellent. Trading off missle volleys rapid fire with that thing is extremely fun and challenging.

The only complaint I have about the game is that ridiculous quote on the cover. My frothing demand for new boxart increases.

The reviews for it have been quite positive. 8.8/10 from GameSpot, 8.3/10 from IGN, 79% from GameSpy…

Hey, whatever floats your boat. I’ve been playing shooters hardcore since Space Invaders (and especially during the Amiga) era, and Ikaruga’s largely bland, soundtrack aside. I’m sure you could try and make the appeal that the minimalism is genius, but it doesn’t work for me - it just lacks the over-the-top style and challenge of Radiant Silvergun, and Lord are those backgrounds dull (and short). Sorry, for $40, I expect a lot more in the way of level variety, and I definitely expect harder boss encounters.

It’s not a bad shooter, by any means, but it’s no classic. Besides, I’m really burned out on the chaining/combing “puzzler” aspect of modern Japanese shooters - give me long, grueling, varied levels and crazy, situation-specific weapons. I’m seriously jonesing for a tactical shooter, and Ikaruga just didn’t satisfy.

I’ll wait for Gradius V and R-Type Final, thanks.

I prefer RType Delta over Ikaruga. For all of its positive marks, it does feel pretty damned soulless, and thats a big factor for me.

I guess it feels like more of an exercise than an experience. GigaWing 2 wasn’t that great a shooter, but the cool soundtrack and hilarious (and in that aspect, somewhat unique) story let it stand out above other shooters like Ikaruga, which I stopped playing after a few days simply because I do not drool over score, but rather the experience on the whole.

Sadly, for me, this is where Ikaruga failed to deliver. Yes, treasure has made some great stuff, but come on ;P

I played the DC version pretty extensively. Best top-down rail shooter ever, in my opinion.

" The black/white system is super entertaining "

Yep, feels like half puzzle game half shooter. Great stuff.

I played it on a friend’s Dreamcast around Christmas time, and have spent the past four months eagerly anticipating the Gamecube version
I was a little worried that time had clouded my judgement, but nope! I still love it - I haven’t had this much fun with a shooter since 1942 (never played Radiant Silvergun)

The game is short, but if you could actually make it all the way through in the first 6 hours you spent with the game, then I fear your terrible shoot-em-up skills :shock:

The cool thing is I know immediately that it was my fault I died.

It’s brilliant… I think it’s the fact that you’re functionally invincible to 50% of the attacks that makes it so addictive. If you die, it’s not necessarily because there was some crazy bullet spread you couldn’t navigate through, it’s probably because you didn’t shift polarity fast enough! Try again! Heh…

All this from a team of around 6 people!

I think fans of Treasure got really lucky that Infogrames took the risk of bringing such a niche title over to North America. I hope they’re rewarded with some excellent sales.
[size=1]edit: spelling[/size]

Question on the GC version, if I already imported the DC version awhile back, is there anything new that would make the GC version attractive?

Probably not. It does have Challenge mode, so if you’re hyper competitive about the game you can post your scores on the official site. Progressive scan, Conquest Mode (watch experts play each section in slow motion and play them in slow mo yourself to perfect your patterns), and some unlockable galleries are also in there (not sure if the gallery or Conquest Mode were in the DC version, but I guess you would know).

No extra levels or multiplay modes, though, so unless you really love the game you can pass on it.

I bought the DC version, but feel compelled to lay down the money on the GC version if only to help send the message to publishers that we want more shmups to make the trip to the US!

I still can’t believe that Radiant Silvergun, among many other great Saturn shmups, was left to die in Japan… :(

–Dave

Don’t you find this game mind-numbingly repetitious?

It’s a great idea, but after the first few times through my interest level dropped like a rock.

“Nothing to see here, move along, move along.”

But I was never a “pattern guy” back in the Pac-Man days either, so there you go.

Your Power Pill

Well it is a top-down shooter… there’s not that much you can do. Enemies come at you, you avoid them and shoot back… :?

I think the core problem for people who aren’t pattern folk, is that beyond that aspect of Ikaruga, it doesnt offer much else. No story, forgettable music, sterile visuals. There isnt anything beyond pattern management, and for some people that isn’t enough.

Yeah, because all of those other 2D shooters are just shy of being literary classics. Its not Planescape: Silvergun, dude, you just shoot stuff.

forgettable music

I’ll give you that, you won’t be humming the music all day, but it does fit the game nicely.

sterile visuals

OK, check your pulse, that’s just ridiculous. It doesn’t look like a neon sign factory exploded or anything, but it has it’s own beauty. I don’t see how anyone could watch this scene from chapter four in full motion and not be impressed:

Same thing for the boss battle on Chapter 3. Great stuff.

I know the backgrounds are nothing all that original and the ships have at most two colors each, but this really is a case of the graphics being greater than the sum of their parts. Everything is rendered nicely and the backgrounds complement the forgrounds perfectly.

There isnt anything beyond pattern management, and for some people that isn’t enough.

I don’t understand this complaint, what else would have have wanted to see? There’s a bunch of stuff, you blow it up. Some gameplay twists are added in so that you have to put some thought into it, and it’s damn challenging.

Great line. :)

Just because it looks good on a technical level doesnt mean it has anything in terms of style.