Black or White?
I love a good shooter, me. Iíve grown up on a diet of Space Invaders, R-Type, Thunderforce 3 et al, and for many years, those armadas of enemy spaceships and their evil robo-motherships spewing missiles, lasers and fire were no match for my smaller, sleeker, super impossibly powered up little spacecraft of wonders. My small vigilante ship, David, the underdog with seemingly impossible odds, took on Goliath with explosions and gunfire aplenty. It was brilliant stuff.
"I bet I can spit on his puny ship from here"
Iíd always though that the best shooter games had died out when everything went a bit 3D. Then I heard about this game called Ikaruga, I was mighty impressed with the hype. Sequel to Radiant Silvergun you say? Iíve never played Radiant Silvergun, but itís meant to be the best shooter ever, innit? It took a bit of time to get my hands on a copy of Ikaruga, what with it being a bit rare and all that, but when my copy arrived, I unwrapped it with glee, savoured that new game smell, then popped the little disc into my ĎCube waiting to have my socks blown off by the almighty awesomeness.
I was amazed. I hated it. "Surely not!" I hear you cry. "Heretic! Burn him at the stake!" mutters the crowd with disdain. But hear me out, as I have pondered for a while as to why I disliked this game so much, and I did give it a proper good go, I really did.
Neville regretted not liking Katamari Damacy
I found the black/white system, declared as genius by many, to be fiddly and distracting. On many occasions, I found myself just trying to shoot the enemies regardless of colour simply because keeping the score multiplier running was just far too annoying. The ship itself doesnít power up in any way, thus not giving any reward for your efforts, and the super-cannon shot always seemed to knacker the score multiplier anyway, making it seem ever more futile to try and get. Whilst some people might enjoy the whole swathes of millions of bullets in pretty patterns concept, I found it utterly distracting, and switching between black and white at the same time as trying to navigate through the hail of death launched my way just made me want to hammer throw the control pad.
The final straw came from the fact that it doesnít even declare the level started for a couple of minutes after you start playing! How humiliating is that? Itís like playing a game with your mate, getting your ass kicked, then him saying "Right, thatís enough warm-up, shall we play properly now?" I mean honestly.
Come get some, sonny.
Now, I realise that the modern shooter has taken something of an evolution since the 8 and 16 bit era, but I think that it has lost the fun aspect somewhere along the journey. Ikaruga caters for those who enjoy what might be labelled a technical shooter, but this makes the gameplay very much inaccessible to me. Itís almost an example of high culture in video games, a title that is designed to appeal to a very select audience, and if you donít like it, then youíre just a common peasant who doesnít deserve such finery.
When I took my copy down to my local games emporium to trade it in, it attracted attention from the staff, and the sales assistant said that heíd been looking for a copy of it and had heard so much about it. They appeared surprised that such a title had come across their counter, what with them being used to handling scratched copies of Need For Speed Underground and FIFA 2004, and Iím sure I was given a disdainful look from the sulky, greasy looking one in the corner (thereís always one) for having the gall to part with it. I walked away from the shop with a copy of Xbox Pro Evo 5.
Now thereís entertainment for the masses.