Ikaruga For Xbox Live Arcade Hands-On Impressions

ikaruga_xbla_tgs.jpgA four-kiosk attack of Xbox Live Arcade games was nestled in the middle of Microsoft's Xbox 360 booth at TGS, showing off dozens of titles old and new. Only one contained the XBLA remake of Treasure's black and white shmup Ikaruga in playable demo form. Featuring the first level of the game, the demo station at Tokyo Game Show may not have shown the remake in the best light. While Ikaruga for XBLA looks spectacular in screenshots—and according to Flynn, "really sharp" on a 42" HDTV—seeing it in non-tate mode on a 22" LCD doesn't show off the game's graphical upgrades in the proper light. As for the gameplay, it's identical as Ikaruga's appearances on the Dreamcast and Gamecube. We were limited to single player only, so there were no opportunities to try the new online co-op mode. For those who aren't familiar with how the game plays, the vertical shooter uses a black and white polarity system. Your ship and its surrounding field can be switched at any point. While in black mode, your ship is vulnerable to white bullets and beams. Inversely, in white mode, you'll take damage from black bullets and beams. However, your ship, when firing in white mode, will do more damage to black enemies and vice versa. The challenge lies in managing your colour to avoid being hit, whilst managing the effectiveness of your shot.

The demo version of the game ran smoothly at 60 frames per second and looked pixel perfect on the Xbox 360. There are no complaints in the graphics department, from what I saw. Due to the typical game show cacophony there was some difficulty judging the game's sound, but Ikaruga's satisfyingly beefy explosions resonated through the din.

Ultimately, Ikaruga is a fantastic game that should appeal to almost anyone who likes shooters. The Xbox Live Arcade version simply takes the successful formula and gives it a high-def polish. Based on the TGS demo, it's going to be yet another solid hardcore-friendly shmup.


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