The genre known as the “bullet-hell shooter” described a series of games that were typically (but not limited to) top-down shooting games and featured loads upon loads of enemy projectiles, which usually filled the screen with a beautifully dangerous death spray (hence “bullet hell”). Games like DonDonPachi Revolution, Danmaku Unlimited, and Deathsmiles (which is a horizontal shooter) had their niche audience; it even spawned its own subgenre, The Touhou Project.
However, one of the most recognizable and popular of these games, Ikaruga, is coming soon the Nintendo Switch in announcement made by Nicalis. Originally created by Japanese video game developer Treasure, the game itself is spiritual sequel to Radiant Silvergun, another top down shooter (but not classified as a bullet hell) which created point combos by shooting like-colored enemies. Ikaruga took the idea and simplified it, using a simple black and white shooting scheme. Basically, a player could “switch” (see what I did there?) between black and white polarities which not only allowed the fighter to shoot that particular color polarity, it also shielded them from enemies that shot the same color. In doing so, the developer can literally cover the screen with black and white polarity projectiles, forcing the player to constantly switch polarities to avoid being hit.
Ikaruga’s radically contrasting style has a mixed reaction in Japanese arcades, citing that it wasn’t a “standard shooter” to core players, but it was a hit with North American importers, which saw the game released on the Dreamcast in 2002, the GameCube (under Atari/Infogrames) in 2003, the Xbox Live Arcade in 2008, and Steam in 2014. Now it’s going to find a home in the Nintendo Switch.
The Nintendo Switch’s version of Ikaruga will have loads of features as well. Not only will it support two distinct gameplay modes: Arcade and Prototype (which limits ammunition based on bullets absorbed), it will have three difficulty settings, and a horizontal mode where you can tilt your Switch in a portrait formation to play the game like the arcade! Expect Ikaruga to hit the Nintendo Switch eShop on May 29, 2018 for $14.99.