I’ve been anticipating Ikaruga for months, and now that it’s finally here, I’m pleased to say: not only does this game live up to the lofty expectations I gave it, it exceeds them. By far, Ikaruga is about as close to gaming bliss as you can get during this console generation.
Sure, the Metroid Primes and the Wind Wakers are more thorough game experiences, but neither of those achieves the simple adrenaline rush that Ikaruga provides. It’s hard to describe how it is and what makes it so great. The best analogy I can think of is that it plays like any old school vertical shooter, like Raiden or Mobile Light Force, but it feels more like a puzzle game, like Bust-a-Move or Tetris. In other words: it’s easy to pick up with simple controls; it’s insanely hard, but never cheap; it’s only real “goal” is to get the highest score, and that is highly skill based; it’s at times gorgeous, but its looks are always functional; and, despite the simple concept, it’s surprisingly deep.
For a good idea at how insane this game can get, check out the two videos at the bottom of this page. They show someone completing the first two levels with a near perfect score. I am convinced that the person playing it is a robot. No mere mortal could achieve that kind of accuracy! It’s in-fucking-sane.
Additionally, newer such high-score-oriented games tend to have a web ranking feature, which is good for those with a fiery sense of competition. Within me, that fire burns fiercely; I am currently planted in the 57th position. Granted, by the time you read this it will likely be MUCH lower, but I’m still an amateur with a lot of room for improvement. With the way this game has enamored me, I’m willing to bet that I will have a lot of practice time. Joy.