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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 19:57:25     -    Ikaruga (GC)

    GAMEPLAY

    If surviving this game wasn't hard enough, the designers also put in a special "chain" scoring system that adds even more difficulty to this game. I've played to the point that killing everything in my ships line of fire in any order of color has become relatively easy. However, the chaining system simply boggles my mind with what must be done to keep a "max chain". Chaining works like this: the player must destroy 3 of the same colored enemies to make one chain (ie: 3 red baddies or three blue and vice versa). After destroying 3 of the same color, the player is free to alternate colors to keep the chain going (ie: 3 red, 3 blue, or 3 red, 3 red 3 red, 3 blue... etc...). After 8 chains the player acquires a "max chain" boost which awards the max amount of points. The object of utilizing this scoring system is to keep a "max chain" for as long as possible. With 20 enemies of different colors on the screen shooting multicolored bullets at you, you can see why chaining 3 of the same color continuously would become rather difficult. I've managed to chain the first 3/4 of level one, but after that, it simply becomes too hard for me. However, I'm always up for a challenge.

    The last interesting thing about this game is when you absorb enough of the enemies shots (you also get points from this), you can use a "special" which shoots out up to 10 bolts of energy of your current color to seek out the enemies on screen. Because which enemy each bolt seeks out is random, it becomes hard to use this to keep a chain (it is possible though).

    DESIGN

    The graphics in this game for a SHMUP and especially for a dreamcast is utterly stunning. The designers did a good job in giving the backround a nice 3D feel, truly immersing the player in the fantasy world. This is rare in a SHUMP, because most of this "scroller shooters" depend purely on gameplay rather than 3D and great graphics to capture an audience. The bosses are also beautifully animated and challenging which gives a real sense of completion of each of the five levels. Don't let the five levels trick you into thinking this is a game with a small quantity of gameplay. It probably took me 20 to 30 hours of game time simply to beat the game on easy (without chaining), and I have been attempting different difficulties since as well as utilizing the chaining system. The five levels have definitely kept me entertained for the past year when I first started playing.

    Even though the difficulty of this game would probably turn many players away, my advice is to stick with it, for it is one of the finest SHUMPs ever made.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 19:44:04     -    Ikaruga (GC)

    SUMMARY

    Ikaruga is a beautiful example of what can be done with the typical scrolling space shooter genre. This would probably be the epitome of the "manic" SHUMP as there are at least 100+ bullets heading towards your ship at any given time during the harder stages. What I found extremely interesting about this particular SHUMP is the ability to change color to "absorb" the enemies attacks. The two colors "dark red" and "light blue" are the two colors the player can utilize defend one's self against corresponding "dark red" and "light blue" bullets. Another interesting concept is that firing a color that is the opposite colored enemy does double the damage.

    GAMEPLAY

    As stated above, the thing that really makes this game interesting to me is the ability to change color. This simple concept really makes this game something special and unique compared to other shooters. Even without this color change ability, Ikaruga would probably still be a pretty solid and challenging SHUMP, but this little add-on bumps this game up to one of my favorite games of all time. One thing that should be noted is the difficulty of this game. It took me a LONG time to beat it on easy with three continues and the max amount of lives (5), but I loved the challenge so the time just flew by. Many of my friends who played this game thought it was fun, but gave up after dieing fifteen times on the first level for the fifth time. Even the first level can get completely crazy, and it requires a great deal of concentration to really utilize the "color change" ability.

    The first level, out of five, is pretty straight forward, as there is usually only one group of enemies of the same color on the screen at one time (although sometimes the mix it up to make it a little more tricky). However, towards the end of the level and advancing to the second, third, forth and fifth levels, the game starts to get completely crazy, as there are about 300 bullets of two different colors that are mixed together on the screen at all times. This is when it gets exceedingly tricky, and one must really concentrate to prevail.

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 13:21:42     -    Goldeneye 007 (N64)

    GAMEPLAY

    Even though the single player campaign is simply amazing, I felt that where the game really flourished was its multiplayer. Not only is there a basic “deathmatch” mode, but there are also unique settings such as “license to kill” (one shot kills) or “the man with the golden gun” (where only one person can carry the most powerful weapon in the game, the golden gun, and killing him/her yields points). The game play in multiplayer is especially smooth, where up to four players can play simultaneously, in cleverly designed levels . Some of the levels come from the single player campaign, while others were specifically made for multiplayer. Another interesting concept is that you can play from a wide range of Bond characters, not even from the movie Goldeneye, such as Jaws or Oddjob. After beating the game, you can unlock more characters which are all of the enemies you have faced in the game.

    Another interesting thing about this game are the cheats. Unlike most games, it is not as simple as “up up down down left right left right A B start” and actually requires some skill. Many of the best cheats in the game (purely used for fun) are unlocked in the hardest ways, such as beating the second level on 00 agent in 2:05 seconds or under (Most people take at least 7:00 minutes to complete such a task). This unlocks invincibility. Basically acquiring cheats becomes a time trial, but instead of just the bragging rights for completing a time trial, you also get game cheats to use for fun as well!

    DESIGN

    The level design in conjunction with the AI was cleverly thought out in the sense that although the game is of progressive gameplay, the designers managed to put a lot of emergent qualities in it. The AI (for the most part) will act differently depending on what you do as a player, for the levels provide adequate cover and vantage points to make every gameplay experience somewhat different. And the different weapons the player can use are astounding. Even though the weapons are named differently than their real life counterparts, all the guns are in fact modeled after real life weapons, such as the AK47. The designers obviously put some time into making this game as realistic as possible.

    Enemy character animations are spectacular. Rag doll physics didn’t exist at the time, so instead the designers animated over 50 death and wound animations. It might sound somewhat masochistic, but the different animations give the game a more “realistic” feel, which makes it much more enjoyable to play. The damage is also location based, so shooting someone in the foot will to a lot less damage by a well placed chest or head shot (even if it is funny to see them hop around on one foot).

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    Feb 21st, 2008 at 13:21:00     -    Goldeneye 007 (N64)

    SUMMARY

    In Goldeneye 007 64, you play as the ever popular James Bond from the 007 series, specifically the 007 movie “Goldeneye”. Because the game is played as a first person shooter or (FPS), it realistically simulates the feeling of acting as James Bond. As Mr. Bond, you venture through various levels (some taken directly from the movie), completing objectives like most progressive games. Although somewhat violent, the object of the game is to shoot (or karate chop) your way through these various levels in order to complete your objectives, which vary from planting a bug on a truck to blowing up all the gas tanks in a facility.

    GAMEPLAY

    When Goldeneye first came out, it was critically acclaimed as the “best shooter ever made”, while this title may not stand today, I still consider it one of the best FPS I have ever played. The game play is really where this game shines. Bond moves very smoothly and swiftly like any good spy should, and most of the weapons are a blast to use. In the first level, “The Dam”, I spend a lot of time creeping around taking out enemies silently with the infamous spy weapon, the “Walter PPK” (nicknamed the “PP7” in this game). Even though this is not necessarily a game of espionage with the advanced “creeping” technology of Splinter Cell, I still managed to pick soldiers off without them seeing me, as long as I used a silenced weapon. If I chose not to use a silent weapon, the soldiers sometimes managed to run away and pull an alarm, often ending in a huge group of reinforcements, sent to take me out.

    The unique part about this game is that there are three standard difficulties for this game. Not only does the AI get stronger and smarter as the difficulty gets harder (like most games), but new objectives come into play as well, opening up many new possibilities for levels where I thought I explored to the fullest. For example, in the first level on “agent” difficulty (the easiest level), your only objective is to get to the end of the level and bungee jump off the platform. On harder difficulties (secret agent, 00 agent) you then must disable all of the alarms and mainframes as well. I thought that this was done extremely well, for the game gets progressively harder at a modest pace, but doesn’t get so impossible that the player becomes extremely frustrated.

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