Review: Ikaruga (Xbox 360)

I’m usually not a fan of Xbox’s arcade game selection, and why waste precious Microsoft points on games when I can use them to buy more rock band songs? Ikaruga is the exception. It’s your everyday classic vertical shooter em’ up, with a big twist. Your ship can switch between two modes of “polarity” with inverting effects. Light polarity absorbs light based attacks and deals critical damage to dark enemies. Switching to dark polarity absorbs dark based attacks and deals critical damage to light enemies. The whole game is based around this concept of polarity.

This game is very simple, consisting of 3 buttons: fire, change polarity, and release a charged attack from absorbed attacks. While holding down fire and swerving around to avoid enemy fire seems simple enough, there’s another puzzle like twist to it. You can put together chains of 3 to gain a bonus to score. And with the the light and dark enemies scrambled together, this can quite the challenge to put together a respectable chain.

Ikaruga is insanely difficult no matter what difficulty you pick. The screen is littered with black and white dots, and you’re immune to half of them. Boss fights are over the top and very punishing if you making one wrong move, so fast reflexes are a must here. Two player co-op makes Ikaruga a little less daunting to attempt, but still challenging regardless.

There seems to be some lag issues in Ikaruga, but nothing game breaking. On certain occasions, like the explosion of a boss, the frame rate slows down to a crawl. It might be intentional, but it did stand out. And playing two player co-op over Xbox live often presents a delay in control, for example it may take a half a second for your ship to move left when you press left on the joystick. When this issue occurs depends on who you are playing with. However, there is no delay when playing a local or a system link match. What I also dislike is the fact you must play for extended periods of time to gain more continues. For every hour you invest into Ikaruga you gain another continue to use for a another attempt to run though the game.

Overall Ikaruga is a must have for fans of the shoot ’em up genre. I recommend trying the trial version first for everyone else before considering purchasing. For me this was definitely worth 800 Microsoft points.



Review: Masters of Illusion (DS)

This next trick requires a volunteer from the audience. I want you to think of a number between 1 and 3. Is it 2? It is?! No, no my good man; I’m not a professional. I learned all I know about magic from the Masters of Illusion!

Masters of Illusion is a unique game for the Nintendo DS, that acts as your “lovely assistant” for preforming magic tricks. It’s a strange game where most of the action takes place when you’re not even holding the DS. The game uses all of the systems features in cool ways. As the title indicates the “Illusions” are taught to you before you preform them. While it is against the Magicians code for me to reveal how each trick works, I can reveal that some tricks use the DS Microphone, while others use secret button presses. If you don’t have an audience to preform tricks to, fear not! You can still don a Magicians tophat with single player tricks.

The game comes with a deck of cards which are used for certain tricks (both for Magic Show’s and Single Player tricks). The cards hold secrets of their own, which add’s another level to the magic. By performing tricks you gain magic points which are used to unlock more tricks.

I’ve enjoyed showing the tricks to people, and I’ve started taking my DS with me to places I normally wouldn’t should the chance to do some magic present itself. This game really shows how social a game (on a handheld no less) can be. I recommend checking it out if you want a reason to show your Nintendo DS off to people, or of course if you believe in magic in a young girls heart.

Check the Masters of Illusion’s site for more information!


April Fools Day Done Right

The first of April is a day I usually dread. A plethora of stupidly false news stories pop up in hopes to fool people. This year there have been some truly fantastic offerings.

First up there’s a trailer for a proposed Zelda movie from IGN. It’s production value is surprisingly quite good.

You can check out their post about it here

Next up we have what appears to be a collaboration between Ubisoft and Konami:

The game itself is Metal Gear Solid 4, but the costume is that of Altair from Assassins Creed. It really shows off MGS4, which I am now in full hype mode for.

For more check out Joystiq’s list of the day’s events.