If you're a massive shmup fan, you own a Dreamcast. The number of quality shooters released on that white-box-of-awesome far exceeds that of any other console (with the 360 coming in a close second). Years after the console's demise, dedicated development studios continued to support the Dreamcast with commercial-quality releases, mostly of the shooter genre.
One of these, is Radirgy.
Released in arcades in 2005, Dreamcast in 2006, and in 2008 on the Gamecube/PS2 in Japan, and on the Wii in North America, Radirgy tells the story of Shizuru Kamigusa with a strange radio wave allergy. Her father developed a cure for this allergy, but his corporation has been taken over by a terrorist group. So Shizuru decides to ride in on a giant mecha suit, guns blazing, to rescue her father and save the cure.
What the game lacks in story, it makes up for in charming graphics and addictive gameplay. Before beginning the game, you choose which shot-type you would like. For shooter fans, this is very familiar territory. A-type is your focused but high damage shot, B-type is your slightly wider ranged shot, albeit average damage, and C-type is your wide shot with poor overall damage, and a slower ship speed.
You can't really go wrong with any of these, and they don't seem to make too much of a difference in terms of gameplay. What does however, is the sword/shield combo. By holding B (Dreamcast), your character will continuously swing it's sword back and forth. While weakening your shot power, it also cancels any square bullets it comes into contact with. These cancelled bullets add up on a gauge on the left hand side of the screen, which when full can be triggered, granting you 5 or so seconds of invulnerability and extra points for any enemies destroyed. This is called the ABSNET barrier.
Skilled players can then chain these ABSNET barriers together, to make themselves almost continuously invulnerable if done right. This involves triggering the barrier, charging into bullets and destroying as many enemies as possible to garner sufficient charge to retrigger the barrier as soon as your previous one deactivates. Rinse, repeat.
Also of note is the shield, which can be activated by not touching any of your weapon buttons. Your character will pull out a shield which will absorb any bullets that hit it, aswell as damage enemies.
The graphics are also top-notch, combining very clear bullets and cel-shaded graphics. Never does a death feel cheap or unfair, and the game looks great while you're getting your ass handed to you by the multitude of bright orange bullets flying towards you at all times. It's eerily reminiscient of Jet-Set Radio, which not doubt served as a graphical influence.
The feel-good, synthetic, poppy soundtrack is a nice-accompaniment and fits the graphical style perfectly. You can buy the soundtrack CD separately on ebay if you feel like having some solo late night funk parties in your basement.
Ah, now to the issue of cost. Be prepared to drop around $80 for a brand new Dreamcast copy, complete with spine card. While it's certainly worth it for some (like me), for those unsure of their enjoyment will definitely want a cheaper option. If you have a Japanese Gamecube, or PS2 (or have a 'method' to play import games), then you'll find far more reasonable prices for those two ports which are identical to the Dreamcast game. Rough prices are $35 for the PS2 version, and around $50 for the Gamecube one.
By far the best option for most of you will be to buy the Ultimate Shooting Collection for the Wii. This includes Radirgy, aswell as Karous and Chaos Field, which are by the same company and are both great. For only $10, there's really no reason not to at least try it. You'll get at least 5-10 hours out of each game, and over 30 hours out of Radirgy alone if you dedicate yourself enough to 1CC it.
A sequel called Radirgy: Noa was released on the 360 and Wii, but remains Japan only and, unfortunately, region-locked. It's great game, but it's the original I fell in love with.
Anyone can enjoy this game, and even if you're not a big fan of shooters the pick-up and play nature of the game makes it a worthwhile purchase, if only for those lazy sunday afternoons between modern releases.