Modern Classix is back for another month to share some shmup love!
Ok - everyone that knows me, the staff, the regular visitors and the shifty old man that watches me through his blinds down the street has seen this coming. It simply had to happen sooner or later, and whilst I would love to avoid the inevitable, I just have to get it out of my system. This month's modern classix is Ikaruga. Since last month's column starred Gradius V, I thought I would continue on my Treasure binge.
Along with Gradius V, Ikaruga is easily one of my favourite games from this generation (okay, so it was on the DreamCast first, but this is my column, so I’ll ignore whatever I feel like) and one of the finest shoot ‘em up’s (shmups) ever made. What makes Ikaruga stand out, though, is that your ship has two sides - a black side and a white side. With a press of a button your ship flips to reveal the opposite side. Coincidently, all enemy craft and shots are also black or white; the white side of your ship will absorb white bullets, but a black one is instant death. Vice-versa for shots of the opposite colour. This also works against enemies, as shooting a white ship with black bullets will do much more damage. Absorbing like-coloured bullets is also encouraged as it charges up a bar on the side of the screen that unleashes a very powerful and very cool looking multiple lock-on shot attack.
All of this makes for some incredibly hectic gameplay; you’ll have to be constantly weaving and shooting and it all takes a while to get the hang of. There are so many shots and enemies on screen at once that often your brain will simply overload until you get used to the game's pace. Be warned, playing this game drunk, hung-over or with a headache is a really, really bad idea. Those looking for a fast paced blaster or those that just love a challenge will be in heaven playing Ikaruga.
As well as being one of the most frantic and fun games on the current systems, Ikaruga - again like Gradius - is one of the prettiest. All the enemy craft, as well as your own, look great; there are some huge explosions, pretty colours, and most of all the lasers and bullets all glow – it’s hard to describe but if you see the game in action you’ll see what I mean. There’s always a heap happening on screen with no slowdown (unless you kill a boss, but that’s intentional) and anyone walking by simply has to stop and stare, jaw on the ground wondering how the hell your reflexes let you get past even the second level.
Unfortunately the PAL version of this game is a bit scarce but freeloaders and the US version of this game aren’t too hard to come by. If you do pick up this game, you won’t regret it. Forget Zelda, forget Metroid (sorry Mayur), forget Mario – this is my favourite GameCube game bar none. Of course, if you don’t like hard games or shmups as a whole, stick to your Resident Evil.