Game Type: Top-view 3D shooter with 2D gameplay.
Hardware: Arcade, Dreamcast, and soon, Gamecube.
Developer: Treasure
Publisher: ESP
Director and Composer: Hiroshi Iuchi
Character Design: Yasushi Suzuki
Release Date: 9/5/2002 (Arcade: 12/20/2001)

Story: (Roughly translated from the manual)

Hourai was once a small nation at the end of mainland Japan. The country had a reputation for peace and democracy but now, this nation calls itself "Jintsuusha", the Prophets, the Avenue for God. They have gained "the power of God" and begun to conquer other nations through military force.

This incident was caused by the "Ubusubagami Ouki no Kai", The Rock of God's Radiance, which a woman named Hourai Tenrou dug from the ground several years ago. Hourai was able to perform miracles after she discovered the Ubusubagami Oukinokai.

An organization called "Tenkaku", Heaven's Square, a group of freedom fighters, went to battle with Hourai. The Tenkaku used a fighter called the "Hitekkai", Flying Iron. The Tenkaku were quickly annihilated.

However, a young man named Shinra survived. He went to fight against Hourai again, and was shot down.

He landed in the village of Ikaruga, where an elderly man named Kazemori helped him. Shinra recovered from his injuries and vowed to fight against Hourai again. Kazemori entrusted the fighter "Ikaruga", the Spotted Dove to Shinra for his fight against Hourai.


One side of your ship is black and one is white. You can change colors almost instantly and at will. Your ship maintains a force field of its color which absorbs all incoming bullets/beams of that color and store the energy. While changing, there is a crucial moment when you have no shields.

The Ikaruga craft contains two weapons: its main guns and its Power Release system. The main guns change between black and white with your ship. Enemies come in these two colors as well. There are pros and cons to fighting an enemy as the same or as a different color. If you use the same color, you are immune to their bullets, can absorb their shots to release later, and when they die they release more bullets to absorb, but enemies can take a long time to die and will fill the screen with bullets so you may have trouble switching colors. If you switch to the opposite color, enemies die faster, don't have time to fire as many bullets, and won't release extra bullets when they die. Because of this, it may take quite a while to fill up the meter for the Power Release system.

When you start playing it is easiest to stay one color and dodge as much as possible, but when you know the enemies you will face, it will be better to switch colors as necessary.

Points are scored per enemy as well as bonuses for "combo-ing" enemies (killing same colored enemies in groups of three), similar to Radiant Silvergun. Bonus points are given per group of three enemies as well as at the end of each level for your longest chain. Playing for these points requires fast switching since some enemies are on screen very briefly and must be killed with the opposite color.

The game has no power-ups and your guns don't seem to become more powerful with the number of points you gain. What you see is what you get. Luckily, you are reasonably maneuverable.

Levels: (Roughly translated from the offical website)

01 - Ideal:

At the time of the test flight, the flying craft seemed unstable but looked like a good match in combat. The existence of Ikaruga's flying craft would soon end the fear of the people of Hourai, and strike a hard blow against the unruly new emperor... now the siege is on! Shinra will determine the ultimate outcome of the combat missions as the counterattack begins.

02 - Trial:

Hourai had already taken this part of Africa. However, the forces that Hourai controls have receded. Shinra must recapture the country by going into the underground to hit the military base, which is under construction. A sudden attack must be carried out while the time is right!

03 - Faith:

With the war in a state of quiet deadlock and the battle wearing thin, the Freedom forces need to avoid a war of attrition. Shinra must now disappear deep within Hourai in order to survive. Following the border to track down the fortress, he will travel through the artificial steel valley where it was built.

04 - Reality:

While Shinra passes over the valley he locates a general with a very large unit under his command. Though the force is overwhelming and extremely powerful, Shinra is proud of his flying craft. Feeling evenly matched, he contemplates his approach strategy and decides which weak points to attack in several places.

05 - Metempsychosis:

As for the conclusion, you will have to see with your own eyes...

Even though released for Naomi hardware in the arcades, this game was originally planned as a GameCube-only release due to the Dreamcast's EOL status. The proprietor of ncsx.com, a major New York City based game importer, asked Treasure if they would release it for Dreamcast if he bought 5000 of them. They agreed, the order was placed, and thanks to dedicated fans, the website had no problem reaching the necessary pre-orders. The Dreamcast release can truly be thought of as a labor of love.

The soundtrack contains 10 tracks; a prologue track, one for each level, 3 boss tracks, and an ending theme. The music does not stand out in form but in being well orchestrated and appropriate for the game. After several hours of play it does get a bit repetitive (think Jurrasic Park and all the reiterations of its theme). There has not been a formally released CD soundtrack yet.

There is a town in Japan named Ikaruga located in Nara prefecture. The name comes from the a spotted (mottled might be a better term) black and white pigeon that once flocked to the area. It was a major center for Buddhist philosphy starting in the 6th century and is home to the famous Horyuji temple.There is a museum there that houses one of the oldest (7th century) wooden shrines (Torii) in Japan as well as a tower that was built of wood in 706 AD. The town has its own website and can be easily reached via JR rail lines from Osaka (Yamatoji Line) or Kyoto (Nara Line).


The big enemy is approaching
at full throttle.
According to the data, it is
identified as "Butsutekkai"

There is no refuge.
Unable to avoid firing.