First off… I am disappoint. Not one person caught the clue I left in last week’s Flashback Friday. Maybe I need to be more blatant in leaving clues next time, hm?
With that said, this week brings us another shooter. This time, we go from the retro style of Darius to the hectic fast paced bullet hell style that is Ikaruga. Now, anyone expecting me to talk about Blazblue… might want to leave now. Yes, the name plays a very pivotal role in that series, but the name is more known for the shoot ’em up game.
Now… where do I begin… Oh yeah! MUSIC MAN! Cue up ‘Butsutekkai’!
Good. Now, to begin: This game does have a plot here. In Japan, a small nation called Hourai has found weapons that rival the power of gods, so they’ve changed their name ‘Shintsusha’ (“Man who can speak to God”). This came to be thanks to a person who lived in the area… now, a freedom fighting group that calls itself ‘Tenkaku’ took up arms to try and take down this rogue nation with the power to rival the Gods. Needless to say, this was a slaughter. However, one man survived and his name was Shinra. He tried again and got smacked down again. This time, he lands in the village of Ikaruga, where a elderly man name Kazemori helped Shinra recover from his wounds. Fully healed and ready to fight, he boards the ‘Ikaruga’ (Bonus point: The name means ‘mottled dove’ in Japanese) and vows that the third time will be the charm.
It’s a deep plot for a shoot ’em up, but it works very well. As you play through, you get more of the plot. Now, to the game play…
This game is well known for it’s simple mechanics that make it easy to learn, but hard to master. Your ship has two sides, a white side and a black side. Enemies come in two colors: White and Black… so, it stands to make sense that the bullets they fire are in the same color. Your ship has the ability to absorb the bullets of the current side you’re on… for example, white bullets get absorbed, give out double damage to black ships and give you double the points. Of course, the same applies to black bullets on white ships. For every 10 bullets, you gain a powerful missile attack that’s 10 times stronger then your normal shot and when maxed out, you can bust out 12 of these puppies (No kill like overkill, ya know). Quite useful for those tricky parts.
Another key thing to note is scoring… yes, expect pinball like numbers here. A tactic used to get high scores is a Chain. By taking three of the same color ships, you can start it and it continues by shooting down the same color ships until you either stop shooting or shoot down the wrong color. You also have the advantage of a very small hitbox on your ship… a bullet needs to be dead on to register a kill.
There are only five stages, but the difficulty ramps up after each stage forcing you to use what you learned and forge those skills in the crucible of bullet hell.
This game originally appeared on the Sega Dreamcast in Japan only, but got a second chance with an American release on the Nintendo GameCube. It also got released on the Xbox 360 and that is where you should get it unless you have a Dreamcast or a GameCube in hand.
So, with that, I shall end this story. Join me next week when I look at one of the most ambitious games of the 16 bit era.