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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Ikaruga shooter is pixel perfect
By Darren Waters
BBC News Online

The phenomenal rise of games consoles has pretty much sounded the death knell for games arcades, which are slowly slipping into the mists of time.

Ikaruga
The game originally featured in arcades
The technological gulf between arcade machines and games consoles and PCs is now wafer thin and the sheer cost of producing arcade machines has put off many developers.

Atari's Ikaruga on the Gamecube is a good example of the current situation.

It is a pixel-perfect adaptation of an original arcade game, which appeared on the Dreamcast more than a year ago.

Ikaruga is a 2D, vertical-scrolling shoot-em up, reminiscent of a horde of similar games which flooded arcades in the 1990s.

It is a distinctly retro piece of entertainment that will have you stacking your 10p pieces on the side.

What distinguishes Ikaruga from other top down shoot-em ups is the polish on the game. Graphically the game is first rate, with crisp textures and a smooth frame rate.

It is quite possibly the best-looking vertical shooter ever produced.

The one disappointment is that the game only uses a narrow vertical band of the screen. Unsightly parallel black bands with a few blobs of game information run down the left and right hand sides.

Retro feel

Ikaruga
Fast reflexes are needed
The soundtrack is inspiring, in step with the great, up-tempo arcade themes but with a grander orchestral feel.

The action is frenetic and unrelenting as you bob and weave between enemy ships and bullets, all the time sending out your own pounding assault.

It is basically Space Invaders dressed in 1990s arcade clothing on a 21st century games console.

The fact it is published by Atari in the UK adds to the retro feel.

A neat touch is the ability to switch between a vulnerable/invulnerable state to black/white bullets.

It is not enough to dodge, weave and shoot, in order to succeed you have to keep one eye on the colour of the bullets.

The game succeeds because it balances difficulty with addictiveness and throws in a good dose of nostalgia which will appeal to gamers in their 30s.

It is also a reminder that not all great games have to come with so-called immersive narratives, voice overs and cut scenes.

Ikaruga is out now for Gamecube.




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