Ikaruga - GameCube

Got packs, screens, info?
Also for: Dreamcast
Viewed: 2D Top-down, Vertical scrolling Genre:
Combat Game: Flying
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Treasure Soft. Co.: Treasure
Publishers: Infogrames (GB)
Atari (JP)
Released: 23 May 2003 (GB)
2002 (JP)
Ratings: 11+
Accessories: Memory Card


The fact that Infogrames signed Ikaruga is amazing enough. The fact that it will be released exclusively for GameCube cements this 1999 coin-op in the annuls of history as perhaps the greatest triumph of gamer demand over what has to be seen as key strategic and financial sense.

Ikaruga began life as a low-key arcade title some years ago, released only into Japan on Sega’s Naomi board. And amazingly, organically, word began to spread. Radiant SilverGun 2 was the word on the street, and as such, finding an Ikaruga machine became a obsessive quest for those lucky enough to have dabbled with the Jap-only Saturn blaster.

The game play mechanic underpinning Ikaruga is alarmingly simple, yet it boggles the mind admirably and this is the reason why the game is so special. If you were to run Treasure’s work through a soulless genre-definition process you would discover that is simply a shooter/puzzle game. You can switch your ship from black to white modes. When in white, you can collect white bullets, which give energy for a smart bomb attack. When in black this is situation is reversed. There is also a combo or chain system that entails shooting the same colour enemy in multiples of three, recommended for the hardcore out there.

Playing Ikaruga, Treasure’s up-scrolling masterpiece, imparts a very odd feeling, which is difficult to describe. It leaves you feeling relaxed, in control, enriched. You feel as though you are taking part in something that altogether transcends videogames. You find that you don’t focus on any particular part of the action, your eyes processing, effortlessly, the screen as a whole. When you are beaten by the game and power down your machine, you don’t feel cheated, you feel educated.

The simple fact is, a lot of you will see nothing of value in Ikaruga on the face of things. It’s not Vice City. It’s not Gran Turismo. It’s a five level up-scrolling 2D shoot-em-up that’s very difficult indeed. However, we defy anyone to play it, even briefly, just to experience the game and what it stands for. One level in, you’ll feel ingratiated into a different word of gaming and something intensely, pleasurably and quintessentially Japanese.

We have also noted that the female first-generation Tetris-playing twenty-somethings of the Game Boy era find Ikaruga greatly intriguing. It’s the perfect excuse! Buy it for your girlfriend and blame it on us.