My Opinion: As a long time hardcore gamer, Ikaruga manages to deliver to an experience that is unparalleled in it's execution, and is the purest embodiment of a just plain fun arcade game.
Now, I proud myself on being a pretty decent gamer. I'm the type of guy who bumps up the difficulty on a game I've never played before because it wont be fun otherwise, who tries for 100% completion on the harder difficulty and the most backbreaking tasks. If there's on thing that you have to know, is that this game is hard. I'm sorry, I'm understating it. It is difficult. Unyielding. Strenuous. It is harder than trying to teach your mother how to use a computer (or mine at least). When I first started this game, I was placed balls deep in the most hectic and brvtal experience of my whole gaming career, even more so than Dark Souls. There are five levels in this game, and in the four years that I've owned this game, I have never beat level three. On easy.
I don't mean to deter you by talking about how difficult this is. If you don't like difficult games, then this is definitely not the game for you. But the thing is, I enjoy twitching my thumbs and smashing my keyboard while I play this. It's not difficult in the sense that it's cheating, but that the game mechanics are so cleverly put that you need to gain an ultimate mastery of it. In the screenshots you see of the game, it may seem like all hell is breaking loose and you'll have no idea what's going on, but in reality you do. This is an easy to learn hard to master game, and game that is on the top of my wishlist now that it's been ported to PC.
So how does the game work? You pilot a ship, and the whole game is built around it's ability to change 'polarities'. It can be either negative or positive, red and blue correspondingly. When you're negative, you fire negative bullets, and so forth. The enemies also work like this, with the grunts being locked in one polarity and the bosses being able to switch. Now at practically all times, the screen is full of red and blue bullets, lasers, missiles, anything. There's no way you can avoid them all, and that's where polarities come in. When you are in a negative polarity, you're immune to negative fire, and vice versa. This idea, this game mechanic opens up for one of the most creative gaming experiences I've ever played.
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