I am not alive, thus I can't die. I won't give up even if my Ideal isn't fulfilled.
My will, just as my regrets, won't ever end.
My comrades... it is time.
Ikaruga, developed by a core team of five people at Treasure with some outside help from G.rev took the setting and foundations of Radiant Silvergun and mixed in the polarity mechanic from Silhouette Mirage.
Words simply cannot express why this game is such a masterpiece, but I guess I can try.
Ikaruga is a bullet hell shoot 'em up, you may be familiar with the genre by Touhou but this is more among the lines of DoDonPachi or Mushihimesama. Your ship has two polarities and can switch at will, only bullets of the opposite polarity can kill you, same polarity bullets can be absorbed to charge up your homing laser.
This simple polarity mechanic adds a whole new layer of depth to a game where you would usually shoot everything and try not to die, "Dot Eater" becomes an effective strategy where you just absorb same polarity bullets and retaliate with your homing laser. Not only that but stages take advantage of this mechanic adding a puzzle element to it, where switching polarities according to the hazards becomes a necessity.
There's also the chaining mechanic where killing three enemies of the same polarity awards a "Chain" where keeping the chain up nets you BIG scores. Shmuppers and 1CCers will have a grand old time looking how to score high in here, some may pull their hairs hearing "1 CHAIN, 2 CHAIN, 3 CH- 1 CHAIN, 1 CHAIN"
The Steam version follows the NESICAxLive version so it's updated and fixed most of the bugs present in the XBLA version, not to mention that Treasure has been doing a good job in keeping the game updated so far.
Reminder: this IS a Treasure game after all so expect the difficulty to be close to masochist levels at times.
Graphically, the game isn't all that impressive but damn it looks good. A big winner though is the artwork; the illustrations by Yasushi Suzuki look fantastic and I'd love to have them hanging as posters on my wall.
The real winner here is the soundtrack. With limited instrumentation and reusing the same melody in most songs, each song conveys a different feeling that matches the situation and it's absolutely glorious. You might already be familiar with "Butsutekkai" the boss theme if you've played I Wanna Be The Guy.
Oh yeah, there IS a plot but nobody cares about it. It's sorta good but it's better if you know Radiant Silvergun's plot too since the final enemy is the same.
In the end, Ikaruga is simply a MUST PLAY for anyone. Even if you're not a fan of the genre it should become pretty clear that this game is truly one of the best games ever conceived. I eagerly await more Treasure games in Steam (so how about that PC-exclusive sidescroller you mentioned Treasure?)Until the day water droplets bore the stone... our path will be fraught with perils...