Thursday, May 01, 2003 @ 21:08 (UTC+0900)

A hobbyist video gamer in the middle of Japan's gaming zone. Comments on console, PC, handheld and arcade games.
Here is my original review of the Ikaruga Appreciate DVD, posted at the Shmups Forum.

Ikaruga appreciate DVD! I just got mine today. This morning. I dropped everything and watched this disc. There's only one thing I could say here:

Bunch of showoffs. ^_-

Here's my detailed review:

Introduction: The purpose of the Ikaruga appreciate DVD is to show off dazzling game play in Ikaruga, a 2d shooter created in 2001 by video game developer Treasure Co., Ltd. It is a "perfect play" demonstation video officially sanctioned by Treasure.

Content: 9/10
Basically, it seems like the conditions for the recording are no dying as a first priority and highest possible chain. And ISO (Easy mode), WIZ (Normal mode) and SWY (Hard mode), with some advisor help from GFA takes you there. You will not believe how creative these players chain!!! I was yelling OMFG! every couple of seconds. Uhem. ^_-

ISO in easy mode starts off by demonstrating how hard it is to collect bullets for power. You can see ISO milking every available bullet belcher on the screen. WIZ in Normal mode plays with dramatic flair. There are times when I thought he's going to lose the chain by letting some baddies go by but then he easily scoops them up. SWY in hard mode will show you how to avoid alternate color shots. All three show you advanced tactics for taking out bosses and enemies. Have you mastered the continuous 1 bullet-wide shot? Do you really know how to use the target laser/bomb?

The easy and normal plays are "perfectly" chained, meaning they played straight to the end of the stage chained. In hard mode however, SWY wasn't able to keep chaining during stage 4. SWY didn't die, but just shot the wrong color once. Godlike skillful nonetheless.

There is also a omake (bonus) mode, where these four players take you on seriously tripping play. There are 12 different snippets, and each is explained in text in the accompanying booklet. The difference between the omake and the regular replay is that the omake shows more aggressive, more riskful play. My favorite has to be the last one, the "dot eater" play on the Stage 5 3rd boss, hard mode. Seriously wicked. "Dot eater" is right, SWY gains 1,726,200 points without firing a single shot. In the text, it is said that this is SWY's "piece de resistance" (akkan no hitokoto).

The booklet is 8 pages, and includes an interview with the 4 players. It was interesting to learn that one player broke their arm in a car accident only a month after playing the game. Heh. In the interview they tell you where they think they should have improved.

The only minuses I can think of here is the aforementioned hard mode chain miss, lack of 2 player recorded games, and no GameCube Prototype mode recorded games.

Graphics: 8/10
For this review I mainly watched it in horizontal mode.

There is a horizontal and vertical mode. Horizontal has black borders all around it. Vertical is 90 rotated to the right (horizontal right is vertical up), with black borders on the horizontal left, right, and bottom. BTW, the dvd is 4:3 ratio. Menu graphics are different between the modes.

I'm not sure how they recorded this, it doesn't say what equipment they used. I assumed they used the arcade version. However, the graphics are a bit fuzzy. Yes you can see what they are doing. No it does not look as clear as your Dreamcast VGA out.

Those of you who have experienced the GameCube version of Ikaruga would probably complain that they didn't have a combo number counter. Small nit, nonetheless.

Sound: 6/10
Sound is stereo, "Dolby Digital". The game music and effects are nice and loud, and perfectly understandable. If you've played the game, you've heard everything there is to hear.

This disc could use some dialogue or commentary. That would be so cool, add a audio commentary track where they could explain in their own voice where they went wrong, what they did right. Perhaps this game is too fast paced to have something like that, though. Nevertheless they didn't break the mold and add more.

Replay value: 10/10
All regular DVD controls are available, so you can pause, slow down, and/or rewind as needed to understand the game play.

Technical: no rating
This disc is 172 minutes, probably (25 + 25 + 25 + 10) minutes * 2 orientation modes. It also mentions that the disc is dual-layered. I did not see the dual-layer switch pause, but then again, I didn't fully watch the vertical mode. The DVD is Region ALL NTSC encoded.

In comparison to the Ikaruga all clear normal 28966250 replay by SRS:
The demo that SRS put out summer of last year is fine game play, but after watching the Ikaruga Appreciate DVD, feels a little orthodox and stilted. This demo seems to be freely circulating the net. Check out fizz's posts in the "Ikaruga FULL + more... replays ^_^" for the details.

In comparison to the video snippets in Famitsu Wave DVD 31 (2003/3/29):
One editor of the Weekly Famitsu game magazine, FWD-Mush (FamitsuWaveDVD) is famous for his shmupping, garnering top rank in some recent shumps (sorry too lazy to look for the info). He entered the Ikaruga Net Ranking Japan, but was unable to top his own 10 million score. So in this issue of the monthly DVD magazine, he invited the "all-Japan top arcade ranked player" to the office, none other than WIZ. WIZ proceeds to demo his play on a orange Gamecube and GC regular controller. The DVD only shows clips of unorthodox but brilliant game play, not a full demo. WIZ finishes the game unscathed and proceeds to record this net-ranking score as FWD-WIZ: 33,028,740 points. I must add that this score was the top of net ranking at least until 2003/03/15. He personally tops this in the Ikaruga Appreciate DVD.

Availability: 1/10
This DVD is hard to procure. It is not in regular game shops. It's not in regular Japanese game shops. It's not massed produced. It's the first DVD sold by the Media and Creative System company (MCSV-0001), so probably distribution was a problem. It's sold out or almost sold out online at the 4 places that Treasure's home page links to. Suffice it to say if you didn't preorder this at your local import shop, you unfortunately missed it.

Summary: If you ever played Ikaruga, you should see this DVD. If you are a shmup fan, don't look at this video, at least not until you've played Ikaruga and understood it for yourself. If you are a Treasure fan, this doesn't tell you anything about Treasure the company.

Chalk it up to Treasure and Media & Creative System to make another product that will garner tens of thousands of yen in resale value on Ebay, etc.
piyo // "People don't want games that tell them that they suck. Ikaruga is that kind of game." -- BoBVila