STORY / GAMEPLAY
The game's story takes place somewhere in the future, in a small island called Horai, governed by a mean ruler named Tenro Horai who sets off to find a way to further strengthen his influence. Upon searching, he finally digs up an unearthly source from beneath the ground, a relic called Ubusunagami Okinokai (quite a name huh?). This very relic grants him with tremendous power over his every enemy while the Horaians were never peaceful and they instead preferred to conquer other places and nations. Well, that was until a rebel team resisted and challenged Tenro and his minions. Disastrous battles followed and the rebels were almost completely vanished.
Your main character, named Shinra, is among those few survivors left and, filled with anger, makes another hopeless effort to destroy the Horaians. But during an unfair battle with other spaceships, Shinra is shot down and lands in a territory called Ikaruga! Hurt and disappointed, Shinra stays hidden along with Ikaruga's exiled people to recover his wounds! Gaining their trust, Shinra is now ready to pilot a specially designed spaceship, that will unleash hell against Horai's forces. This is the almighty "Ikaruga" battleship.
Ikaruga is played from a top down perspective, as most of these types of arcade shooter games. Your battleship has a non-upgradable laser weapon (a strange shoot 'em up feature) but it also has the ability to change polarity, from black to white and vice versa (a unique shoot 'em yup feature here).
The enemy forces can attack in black and white polarities, which means that you have to defend yourself everytime the enemy color changes. For example, if the enemies fire white projectiles, you must turn into your white polarity, rendering your battleship immune to them (but not to the black ones). Same goes when the enemies use the black polarity.
The truth is that Ikaruga is a very intense game with fast action and needs some skills as you always have to change from black to white (and the opposite) while you have to shoot and kill at the same time. Nevertheless, upon mastering those "special" features, Ikaruga plays just like hundreds of other arcade shoot 'em up games.
GRAPHICS / SOUND
Ikaruga is surely a technical stunner since it features hundreds of colors on-screen, absolutely flawless frame rate and some great visual effects (just see the explosions)! Ikaruga might not push the Dreamcast hardware to its limits, but it's surely one of the most intense (and beautiful) shoot 'em up games on the console's library. As for the game's sound, is in one word, stunning and features a multitude of space battle sound effects, a robotic voice and some pretty strong music scores.