Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: "Ikaruga"

When you think about airplane shooter games, you think about dodging bullets. The only thing that seperates airplane shooter games between each other is the different airplanes your can choose in every game, which usually revolves around how fast a plane can move, the amount of control, the 'bomb' you use, or the way the plane shoots.

In Raiden, you try to get power ups within a stage to change your plane's way of shooting that suits your situation.
In Striker 1945, you are able to choose different planes with different attributes. Same with Touhou Fantasy.

'Treasure' took a different approach and worked on the dodging element, which is a rather static and different element to reshape. The result was Ikaruga.

Ikaruga's main gameplay focuses are that there are 2 different kinds of attacks an enemy can throw at you: Black and White and your plane's ability to change from White element to Black element and vice versa. There are 3 kinds of action your plane can do:-

1) Shoot - normal shooting all airplane games have.
2) Bomb (lets call it that because it is a commonly used term that is shared among airplane games) - Invulnerability and does damage to the enter area. Limited to your bomb gauge. Bomb gauge is charged up by absorbing attacks (explained below)
3) Change element - Change your element from black to white and vice versa

The rules of airplane games is simple: Dodge bullets and kill the boss.
Ikaruga added on this element of gameplay into: Dodge OPPOSITE ELEMENT bullets and kill the boss.

For example, if your plane is currently a white element, it will be able to absorb all white colored attacks, but it will be instantly destroyed should it touch a black colored attack. Same if your plane is in a black element state. You will absorb black attacks and will be destroyed on contact with a white attack. Note that absorbing attacks increases your bomb gauge.

Black and White elements

Due to this mechanic, the designers are able to come up with creative ways for an enemy to attack the players. The hard part of this game is to remember your color and remember what you are supposed to be dodging. In the midst of battle, it is easy to get confused and forget, causing the players to foolishy run into the opposite colored attacks without them realizing what color they are.

The last thing to consider about the game is the graphics. Ikaruga is rendered in 3D for both the background and the foreground. Explosions are not obstructing the views of the players, and the attacks the enemies throw at you are very clear and obvious. All in all, Ikaruga is quite a beautiful and polished game. A definate "must try".

This game is currently avaliable at Xbox Live Arcade.
random Ikaruga YouTube video.

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