Top Critic Average
Genres: Arcade, Action
Yes, Ikaruga is a tough game. But tough in a good way. The kind of tough that kept you constantly feeding coins into arcade machines just to get 'that little bit further...' An old-school style vertically-scrolling shooter, but with 3D-esque graphics, Ikaruga has quickly gained a cult reputation because of its clever colour-switching gameplay.
It works like this: you control an experimental fighter craft, the Ikaruga, which is capable of switching energy polarities (black or white) at the press of a button. Each enemy fires either black or white energy, so you're constantly switching polarities to absorb the correct colour, while avoiding the opposite colour. And you must do all this while blasting the bad guys with your ship's powerful lasers.
The game begins at a fairly sedate pace (for Ikaruga, at least) but you'll soon be switching at a furious rate as streams of multicoloured fire come your way. Oh, and did we mention that there are no power-ups? Instead, there's a bar at the left of the screen that fills up as you absorb black or white energy, which can be unleashed at any time as a one-shot mega-weapon. This comes in handy against clearing waves of enemies (but only ones of the correct colour) and the game's huge end-of-level bosses.
The game features five chapters that - once reached - you can practice at any time. There's even an option to play each chapter in slow motion so you can hone your skills before you take on the challenge for real. Plus, with a simultaneous two-player mode (when things get really crazy) and even the option to turn your TV on its side and play in full-screen vertical mode, Ikaruga's got it all.
Nicalis and Treasure are bringing the legendary Ikaruga to Nintendo Switch on May 29!
Ikaruga is one of those games I'll happily rebuy and replay every time there's a new port, but with this Switch version, I should be set. Being able to easily bust out the Joy-Con controllers for co-op and flip the system on its side for a vertical screen orientation is the real deal. Ikaruga is a timeless classic, and for those of us without a swiveling monitor, the Switch is just about the ideal way to experience it.