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Click here to switch polarity.

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"WARNING: The big enemy is approaching at full throttle. According to the data, it is identified as Butsutekkai. NO REFUGE"
—Warning screen before each boss in Ikaruga

Ikaruga is a modernized take on the "Bullet Hell" school of Shoot'Em Ups, developed by Treasure, creators of Radiant Silvergun. It's widely regarded as one of the best examples of the genre.

In Ikaruga, everything comes in one of two polarities: black or white. Black ships fire black shots, and white ships fire white. Your ship is unique in that you can switch between the two polarities at will.

Your ship's Battle Aura can absorb bullets of the same polarity, but is destroyed by shots of the opposite polarity. However, your shots do double damage to targets of an opposite polarity to your own, giving you the option to fly with your defences down to increase your offensive power. Absorbed bullets charge up your special attack, a homing Beam Spam. Finally, the scoring system allows you to accumulate "chain" multipliers by destroying three enemies of the same polarity in a row.

That's all there is to the game: no other gimmicks, no other features. Just five levels of careful design, switching polarity, and more bullets than you can shake a stick at. Ikaruga is a work of art that way: it takes a simple idea and plays that idea to its most logical extreme (obviously, Your Mileage May Vary, especially when it comes to the sheer difficulty of the game). All five levels are Scrappy Levels in one way or another, but there is something to be said for elegance.

Released as an arcade game (using the Sega NAOMI platform) and on the Dreamcast in Japan in 2001, it was later ported to Gamecube systems around the world in 2003. In 2008, it was ported to Xbox Live Arcade.

Tropes used in Ikaruga include: