2003 Award Winners, Part 9

Developer: Treasure
Publisher: Infogrames (Now Atari)
Release Date: 4/14/2003

Alexander Lucard

Funny. My name used to be synonymous with this game. At one time I was in the Top Ten of the Game Cube rankings. There was a time when I ate, slept and bled Ikaruga. In the golden days of the Kliq my love for this game was as well known as my loathing for FFVII. How times have changed as I don’t think I’ve gotten to talk about this in a while.

I love Bullet eater games. Sure I love the gradius and the Sigma Star Saga and the Panzer Dragoons and all the other forms of shooters out there, but give me a game with several dozen bullets on the screen at once where the only thing keeping my digital ship alive is my insane hand-eye coordination and my ability to delay blinking at Guiness World Record levels. Hair trigger reflexes, miniscule movements with my appendages. These are the type of games that seperate the “I love turn based RPG’s because I am lazy and heavyset” from the “I could be a ninja if I could just get my hands on a toledo steel quality blade.”

Hell, you want to see a level of passion and excitement for a game I haven’t shown in years?

My Original Review from June 2003 and our bit from the Top Ten Reasons to Buy a Game Cube feature

Okay, now I just really want to play this game again. Screw you guys. I’m off to dry out my eye sockets.

Mark B
Bullet Hell.

We as console gamers here in the Western world have a minimal amount of experience with this relatively new concept in the shooter world. Not that there isn’t a reason for that, mind you; the death of the genre Stateside certainly has a lot to do with that. But it’s an interesting contrast to the old-school shooters we’re used to; instead of the old-school “load up with a ridiculous amount of weapons and destroy everything you see”, bullet hell works off of a much simpler “use the same weapons forever, but try to dodge billions of bullets all at once” mentality.

Now, I’m not a fan of the “bullet hell” mentality. I openly admit this. I prefer games like R-Type Final and Gradius V to the various games from the Touhou Project, as I’m more interested in building my ship up to obliterate everything than I am in dodging for my life for three hours. Blinking is something I place value in, after all.

Which brings us to Ikaruga. Ikaruga is most commonly compared to Radiant Silvergun (another Treasure shooter, for the Saturn), but in reality, they’re spiritually contrasting; Radiant Silvergun is a prime example of the power-up philosophy, wheras Ikaruga is full-on bullet hell, baby. You’re given the ability to switch the colors of your ship as your only means to survive some sections, and if you blink, buh-bye, see you next life. Personally, I’d have sooner seen Radiant Silvergun recieve a republish, but given the choice, Ikaruga is one of the best bullet hell games money can buy, not to mention one of the few available in the States. I mean, hey, I might not love the game to death or anything, but I bust it out and play it from time to time, and it’s of very reasonable challenge for even the most hardcore of the hardcore.

In short, Ikaruga is absolutely deserving of its award, no question. It’s not my favorite shooter ever or anything, but it IS pretty good, and if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ve done yourself a disservice if you’ve not played it.