In Japan, vertical 2d shooters are still a thriving genre. You can actually still patron arcades and drop a few yen on these vertical little-airplane-vs-gigantic-inferior-stuff titles, whereas in the States I feel like we get the occasional Galaga or 1942 "token novelty shooter" sitting in the corner, covered in a sticky substance you wanna believe is soda. You can actually go play a modern game like Ikaruga like this in a Japanese arcade and also in some parts of Europe. Now that I've wobbled around the cultural differences between East and Western gamer shooters, feast your eyes on this video of an ambidextrous Ikaruga player [thanks Anthony C!], and when you're done, jump off a building. But just who are these hardcore gamers that rock these games to the brink of insanity? I found a cluster of them hiding out in an asteroid near the UK...
Before I jump into this any further, let me back it up as this game isn't exactly popular as, I don't know, Lara's tits for example. I don't even have to say Croft, you know exactly the two I'm talking about like the back of your hairy hand. If you've never played Ikaruga, the object of the game is to get shot at, absorb it, and fire back - but if you're not on the right polarity setting you'll get killed in one hit. So you're toggling back and forth between dark and light constantly as a means of dodging, because the screen is full of bullets and you can't duck them any other way. As if this game isn't hard enough, this beast is doing it simultaneously with two ships at once, one hand each... nearly effortlessly... ugh. This isn't the only person that makes me want to kill myself, or at least lock myself in my mom's house and play Ikaruga all day. Granted, I moved out over 10 years ago, so she'd be really surprised I showed up at her doorstep with a Dreamcast.
But I digress, if this sort of madness appeals to you and you want to count yourself among the gods of Ikaruga, check out how hardcore this UK Ikaruga community is (a web site complete with change polarity button in the top right corner - I thought that was clever). Run by some of the world's top players, this fan based web site breaks down the game into tiny morsels, with easily digestible strategies (a forum broken down by stage) and videos of the finest players in the prime. They're nuts. A few of those vids are posted below. If you're looking for the game, your best bet is an online retailer for 30-40$ used like Half.com
If you enjoyed this game and have a Saturn, save your pennies and definitely get the game's prequel: Radiant Silvergun - the widely regarded mother of all shooters. Epic storyline, six button weapon system, no fancy switching around, just shoot and stuff, duck the bullets, fight the huge bosses, and enjoy the symphonic soundtrack. The weird japanese EngRish is also very amusing. Due to the rarity, expect to pay an average of $100 for this gem, and Ebay's your best bet.
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