|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treasure||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Treasure||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In addition to playing Ikaruga single player, you are also able to play co-op either locally or over Xbox Live. And while this is a pretty good option for those too daunted to go it alone, I feel that playing this game solo is slightly more satisfying then playing co-op. Part of Ikaruga's charm is the way it makes you scrutinize every level in painstaking detail, and when you are able to co-op it makes it much easier to burn through levels without paying as much attention as you would if you were going alone. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I think this type of frustratingly difficult play makes Ikaruga distinctive, and as such it is a game to be savored single player.
Although Ikaruga might be punishing in terms of gameplay, it is fairly easy on the eyes, that is. The game has gotten a major facelift since its last iterations on the GameCube and Dreamcast. The game is presented in full HD up to 720p and has a wonderfully quick framerate that keeps excellent pace with the extreme speed of the action on-screen. One cool feature of the game for those who own widescreen TVs is the ability to flip your TV on its side and use a realistic arcade full screen display (as opposed to the shrunken display with the large borders that you get if you leave your TV right side up.) Although this may be a bit impractical for those who don't have wall-mounted TVs, it is a cool option nonetheless, and if you have the ability to play it like a jumbo arcade game, then all the more power to you.
Controls in this game are exceedingly simple. You lead your ship around with the left joystick, and then you decide which buttons control your three remaining actions: fire, burst attack, and polarize. I personally found that the shoulder buttons work best for the polarize command and the A and B (or X) buttons for the two attacks. But ultimately, the choice on how to control this game is completely up to you, which is a good thing because you'll need to be as comfortable as possible with the controls so you can focus on getting through the game.
Ikaruga might sound like a short game, metering in at a paltry five levels. But trust me, this is not some flash in the pan game. It took me almost six hours just to get through the first three levels on easy with all the handicaps listed above. It is a truly challenging game, and is probably one of the best games out on Live Arcade. It challenges the notion that all the Live Arcade games are of the casual sect, and it definitely gives the hardcore crowd something to sink their teeth into. So if you're ready for a challenge and have 800 Microsoft points to burn, you simply can't go wrong with Ikaruga!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer