If you play shmups and haven't played Ikaruga, you are wrong.

User Rating: 9 | Ikaruga X360
First off, despite being a collector, I have never played the DreamCast version, nor the GameCube release. The XBLA version was my first introduction to the unique game which is Ikaruga. And I must say, what an introduction it has been. Easily one of the finest shooters for any platform.

Shmups are far and away one of my favorite genre's. Everything from R-Type to Darius Twin, Axelay to Gunbird, even Raptor and Xevious. Ikaruga is so amazingly unique that even if you are only a casual shmup fan, you'll want to try this.

That's quite the intro isn't it? Sounds super positive?

Ikaruga has a top down perspective like Xevious. That's where the similarities end. You face down the usual insane fleet of billions of ships, but here's the catch. They come in two flavors: Black and White. Now here's wher you come in: your ship, the Ikaruga, can shift between black and white as well. When you're black, you can absorb all the black bullets and make yourself more powerful for AOE attacks, and your bullets deal more damage against white enemies.. press B and you're now white. You can absorb the white bullets, and deal more damage vs. black enemies.

This unique gameplay feature is the clutch of Ikaruga. You will swap back and forth constantly to avoid the bullet-hell/Danmaku-like enemy barrages which quickly fill up the screen.

I'm not going to lie to you, this is one of the hardest games I've ever played in my nearly 30 years of gaming. In fact, it may very well be THE hardest. I have only managed to reach level 3 once since I began playing. That being said, despite being so difficult, it is immensely fun and rewarding, a game that challenges you as far as possible in the genre, and no matter how far you get you feel accomplished just for experiencing this masterpiece.