Ideal

by wfgodbold

Ikaruga.

The hardest, shootingest, unforgivingest game of its kind released in the US for years (now available on Xbox Live!).

The spiritual sequel to Treasure‘s smash hit Radiant Silvergun (which can be yours for the low, low price of ~$175 (at least until May, when it is scheduled for release on Xbox Live Arcade)), Ikaruga is a vertical-scrolling shoot’em up (like Galaga, only 20 years newer) of the bullet-hell/curtain-fire (弾幕, danmaku) variety.

You pilot a lone ship against hordes of enemies that will cover the screen with bullets. The enemies and bullets are all either white or black; your ship can switch from white to black (and back), and if you are hit by a bullet of the opposite color, you die.

Your bullets change color depending on whether you’ve spun your ship to the white side or the black side; when white, you shoot white bullets, absorb white bullets, and do extra damage to black enemies. When black, you shoot black bullets, absorb black bullets, and do extra damage to white enemies. Absorbing bullets fills your power meter; you can expend it to fire an enemy-seeking laser across the screen (the more bullets you absorb, the better the laser is).

That’s the whole game. There aren’t any power ups. All that stands between you and death is your ability to twitch your way through a hail of multicolored bullets and defeat the armada massed against you.

I think the farthest I ever got on one credit was the fourth chapter (there are five chapters, total). By the time I got that far, I’d listened to the following track more times than I’d care to admit.

Stage 1: Ideal.

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