I don't get the chance to write a review like this very often. Ikaruga, a new title from Infogrames Atari imprint, presents a new take on an old classic, the 'arcade shooter.'? Using a simple gameplay twist, refined graphics, and a level of on-screen destruction requisite for this genre, Ikaruga is an innovative new title, but whether or not it is a good game is up to some debate.
Comparing it to older shooters is rather futile. The only one of recent memory that even approaches Ikaruga is [[Einhander]], which showed similar promise and quality. Your basic craft features 'polarity,'? letting it switch between white and black polarities, where you are invulnerable to shots of your color, while you do twice as much damage to enemy craft of the opposing color. Given the ability to make your craft invulnerable at any time, the enemies in Ikaruga fill the air with enough shots to choke even the most determined arcade adept, and thanks to levels that literally leave you with no room to maneuver, learning to control your polarity and position is a key to success.
There are three basic ways to beat the game, and more or less, succeed. First, you can defeat enemies, shooting away as normal. This might make some areas more difficult, but others much easier, as you destroy everything you can get your hands on. Next is the dot eater mode. While invulnerable to a certain type of shot, you can absorb them to power your special weapon. Technically, it's possible to go through the entire game without firing a single shot, absorbing dots as you go. Finally, you can chain combos, where you destroy three enemies of the same color in a row, looking to earn more and more combos by following this 3 by 3 pattern. This style can perhaps earn you the most points.
It isn't even that necessary to mention the graphics and audio in Ikaruga, because they're secondary to the frenetic gameplay. While they aren't shabby by any means, you won't be paying much attention to them. Ikaruga rests its laurels on hard and fast gameplay, and while it is good gameplay, it's also very challenging, fairly short, and not what I'd call a mass appeal title. Look into it, but I give this one my seal of approval.