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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

Game Profile
Xbox Live Arcade
GENRE: Shooter
April 09, 2008

 Written by Kris Rosado  on April 11, 2008

Review: It's as if millions of eBay sellers cried out... and were silenced.

When Microsoft first announced that they would be bringing over Ikaruga last year, me and everyone I knew, and a few people I didn't know, went absolutely ballistic. Just the thought of playing Ikaruga in full HD on a flat screen T.V. properly, was enough to make me look at my Dreamcast and wonder just how much of a future it had left in my stand. Now that the day has arrived, I am inching ever closer to thinking I should be purchasing a glass case to house the memories we had together. The simple truth of it all is? The Xbox Live Arcade has brought me the definitive version of this game.

Ikaruga was never a game to sneeze at graphically, it was always this beautiful display of masochistic destruction no matter if you were playing the GameCube or Dreamcast versions. The XBLA version stays true to the beauty and then enhances it with HD rendition. While the HD doesn't do anything to make the game massively pop out at you any more than the previous did, it does help in smaller ways by making the entire game look sharper and smoother. You can choose between 16:9 or 16:10 dimensions. While that 0:1 may not seem like it would make a lot of difference, it actually does since Ikaruga's action screen is centered in-between two large black screens used for the HUD. Or, if you are lucky enough to own a screen that can be turned on its side, you can play the game in its native TATE (pronounced Tah-Tay) mode. Speaking of the HUD, you can change it as you see fit, from choosing whether or not to display the wallpaper in the HUD space to adjusting little elements such as where the time or chain displays are located. It is up to you to decide the perfect look to display your high speed destruction.

More than just mindless high speed, no refuge-giving action, Ikaruga is about using color polarities to absorb the correct colored enemy's fire to fill up a bar which is used to create a blast of fire from your ship to annihilate the enemy? or at least do a lot of damage. If that just went completely over your mind let me try to make you understand.

Your ship can change polarities, black and white. This acts as a sort of shield that will absorb your enemy's firepower provided that your polarity matches that of the enemy. The absorbed firepower you acquire, than fills a meter that is used to give off a giant burst of firepower to do massive damage to the enemy. Polarities also play a part in achieving high scores through the use of chains.

A chain is created by destroying three enemies of the same color in a row; you cannot receive a chain by destroying two black enemies and one white enemy. The more consecutive chains you make, the higher the score bonus you receive. All the while you are doing these things, flipping your ship's colors and making chains, you also have to dodge flying debris and color coated crates. The game even manages to feature two player co-op (local or online) so that players can split the stress without having to split the screen.

Veterans of the game from the Dreamcast version will find that the XBLA version will cater to them nicely since the Xbox controller almost perfectly mimics the Dreamcast one. Unfortunately, I didn't get to test out an arcade stick, because any true fan of shoot 'em ups (SHUMPs) knows that an arcade stick is the true way to play.

In the world of shoot 'em ups, Ikaruga would be placed under the ?Bullet Hell? category. What that means is that enemies in Ikaruga fire of crazy bullet patterns that often over-flood the screen and absolutely destroy unseasoned players. The combination of bullets flooding the screen, paying enough attention to avoid flying debris, and keeping just enough of a mindset pinned on the fact that you have to know when to change your polarity is where Ikaruga receives its difficulty from. While this may scare off certain gamers, others both have and will come to crave the abuse the game unleashes.

Part of what makes the abuse so addictive is showing off your higher score and bragging about how they did achieved it. Before the days of XBLA, shoot 'em up enthusiasts would post their scores up on a website, like, with a crappy video capture or would have to import a DVD featuring the best player replays. This is what, more than anything else, will make the XBLA the definitive version; the ability to post great looking replays and use the leaderboard for ultimate high-score glory against the world. There is even a new added layer to the bragging rights with the placement of Achievements.

Bottom Line
At 800 points or 10 dollars, the XBLA version of Ikaruga is the cheapest version. The GameCube version runs for around $30 and the Dreamcast version goes for around $50 to $60. Add in that these two versions do not have the HD graphics, leaderboards, or those achievements you know you want, and those ten dollars for the XBLA version starts to look a lot more satisfying. Bottom line, if you are a fan of shoot 'em ups or just do not feel like dragging out the Dreamcast, you will not be disappointed in this updated version of a classic game.

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