Kairuga Freeware Review

You've probably heard of the shmup Ikaruga, to some the greatest vertical shooter ever made, to others a game which over relies on memorisation to such a degree that it’s no fun. If you are of the former then you'll love this game as it's homage to it. Kairuga is an almost perfect copy of the first level of Ikaruga, while it does miss parts of the level out, the main aspects including the end of level boss are there, and so people who have played the original will feel right at home. For those of you who don’t know how Ikaruga works ill explain since the game mechanics are quite different to the average shmup. The game has a polarity system where you will meet red or white enemies (red and blue in Kairuga's case) you're ship can switch between having a red or white shield so if you’re ship was red bullets wont harm you only the white bullets do, also you're shot changes colour and a red shot will do twice the damage to a white ship. Also as you are hit by the same colour bullets as you’re ship you will 'eat' the bullets that fills up a meter that allows you to fire off homing missiles, the missiles are also coloured so they will also massively damage ships of the opposite colour.

With such game mechanics Ikaruga is as much thinking mans game and a memorizer as it is a twitch / manic mans game. If you played Ikaruga as a normal shmup you wouldn't last very long since you won't be so much dodging all the bullets, quite the opposite you’ll be trying to eat as many as possible. Something which can put some shmup gamers off, but if you perceiver you'll find yourself wanting more and more since the object of Ikaruga isn’t to survive but to try to get as many points as possible in a perfect run. And to facilitate this is the scoring system that awards you for bullets eaten as well as shooting the enemy. Ikaruga / Kairuga has a chaining system where for every three ships of the same colour you destroy, the chain counter increases by one, chains don't have a time limit like most other games and can only be cancelled by destroying a wrong coloured ship, this will reset the chain counter back to zero. For high scoring, chaining means everything as for the 1st chain you are awarded 100 points that is doubled for every other chain on the counter. This makes devising a way to get the most consecutive chains the main challenge of this type of game. In Kairuga you can get a maximum counter of 85 if you chain everything, (no chaining during the boss fight).

Kairuga's graphical style as you can see uses the minimalist and abstract neon style used by Kento Cho (aka ABA Games) and has been copied by everyman and his dog especially for arena shooters like Geometry Wars and its clones. This style used in Kairuga is actually a good thing as the red and blue ships are easy to see without there been no distractions enabling you to concentrate squarely on the action and getting as many chains as possible. The sounds are ripped straight from Ikaruga which imo is no bad thing as it gets the player even more into the spirit of things.

While Kairuga is homage to the original it doesn't copy it totally. I’ve never played Ikaruga but ive read comments on other gamers who say that the enemies in Kairuga shoot more bullets, are allot harder to kill and you can't destroy most of them by ramming them with your ship, and that your ship moves abit slower as well, making for a harder game of a game thought to be very hard by many gamers. While this might be a gripe for some Ikaruga players, I think that considering the shortness of Kairuga it is a good thing. I do have a couple of gripes of my own and that is that I wish the game maker who is Kairos btw would have added an online leaderboard like the original. Also while I realise this is supposed to be a 1 level mini game, the level could have been just a tad longer with a few more waves of enemies included. The biggest gripe I have is that there is no gamepad support which for a shooter as complex as this is unforgivable. So out comes Xpadder yet again to save the day.

Kairuga is a great little piece of freeware. While I can't see seasoned shmuppers who have commercial games including Ikaruga in their collections spending much time with this game. Gamers like me who are relative newcomers to the genre, don’t have Ikaruga or any other commercial shmup and want to try playing a harder game for a change but don’t want to commit to a full length hard shmup with 5 plus stages. Kairuga allows us noobs this taste of what a pro level game would be. We can really get into it and try our hardest to master it and get the best score. And then when we’ve had enough quickly move on to the type of shmups we usually do play. The shmup in my case a game that I would be able to 1cc in 2-4 weeks depending on how committed I was at that time and not a 6 months to a lifetime game like Ikaruga. Another great thing about Kairuga is that it gave me a taste to see if I could stand the real game, and I can truth ally say thanks to this great little game i'm a Ikaruga convert, All bow down to Ikaruga!!!  3.3 out of 5

Here is my current highscore, what's yours?

 P.S. Thanks to having to redo several runs of Kairuga due to Camstudio ghosting, the video i've posted is by far not my best run so why don't you check out the creators video at the game download link thats here
He will show you a method of getting a full 85 chain combo, but I do recomend you dont watch that video or any other super play video posted as it takes away alot of the fun from the game. Kinda like using a FAQ to play a RPG game. Anyway why dont you post your highscores in the comments of my You Tube video and get a little highscore board going. At this moment in time my best is 2036170 and a chain of 44/85 plus a rank of average this is all in normal difficulty. BTW playing in hard mode gives you an advantage since the more bullets the enemies shoot the better your score will be. So there you have it, get playing and show us your high score!

 Sorry for the delay in my posting, i genrally like to only have an handfull of shmups (among some other types of games) that i'm playing at one time, so i like to try to 1CC or finish a game before moving onto a new one. This and the fact that Camstudio and my video editor don't seem to like me and are always throwing spanners in the works makes the job so much harder. I intend to make another couple of posts very soon so you guys are not waiting too long.


Chalk Review

Here is another one of Konjak's most well known freeware games called Chalk, a sort of a mash-up between a shmup and simple mouse controlled game like those you find two a penny on any flash game website. The result of these colliding game designs is something not found any where else and is allot of fun. You control with the mouse and keyboard as she ventures along the stage either destroying or dodging the many obstacles that get in your way. To destroy something depends what it is; an normal object all you need to do is while L-clicking with your mouse draw a line which connects all the green circles in the object. While a baddie will require you to wait until it fires a bullet at you so you can quickly make a line from the bullet to the enemy. This does sound easier said then done as objects are usually moving fast or spinning and most baddies need 2 bullets to destroy them, On top of that you only have a limited amount of 'chalk' (time) to make a line. This forces you to draw lines faster then you would normally or you will find yourself running out of 'chalk' and having a line shorter then it needs to be.

This is the core gameplay of Chalk and you will find extra gameplay mechanics later in the game aswell, like blue boxes which stop you from drawing a line over them so you need to pick them up and either throw them away or drop it onto another blue box to destroy them. Also you can rebound white bullets with a line which is always useful for killing the baddies. Like in all of Konjak's games its the boss fights which are the best parts of the game. While I wouldn't say the bosses in Chalk are on par with those of the Noitu Love games, they still are fun while easy to fight, each requiring you to think of how to damage him, usually this will entail using the objects in the screen to exploit the bosses weakness, Just like in Noitu Love.

The stage one boss has two forms this is his first

Onto the game's presentation. While this is a freeware title and the graphics are all basic, in that you are supposed to be playing on a chalk board, the simple graphics add to the look and feel of the game. The idea you are in a black board is further reinfored with the sound effect of chalk on the black board every time you draw a line. The sound effects are accompanied by a pleasing blip tune which is instantly recognisable as been make by Konjak if you have played a Noitu Love game before. Konjak is really good at giving his games a sense of polish that is his own, making his games instantly recognisable as his. This is one of the reasons he is one of my favorite indie game developers.

To get a high rank you need to chain several object in one stroke

Back to Chalk, there are 6 stages in total the last stage just been a boss rush of all the other stage's bosses before going up against the last boss. I found him to be pretty easy to defeat, although comaired to the other bosses he is a step up in difficulty. Infact Chalk as a whole is quite easy to complete on a single credit. Chalk gives you 3 credits on top which should let even low skilled gamers complete all stages. While Chalk may be easy if it's just played casually like most people will do, Chalk has borrowed gameplay from the shoot'em up genre, where if you wish to can scratch a little deeper and get a much greater challenge from it than what a Joe blogs casual gamer will do. To facilitate this Chalk has a rank system where at the end of each level you are graded on how well you played, From a rank D to an S. To the delight of hardcore gamers to get a rank S or even a A is no easy feat. To improve your score getting overkills etc by killing more then one enemy per chalk line is an absolute must. And soon you will be thinking of ingenious ways of getting overkills.

Those blue boxes can be a pain as you cant draw over them. Pick them up
and throw them away

While I do like Chalk and find it allot of fun, I really do wish Konjak would of added more to the game. More stages, more baddies, more gameplay elements that allow you to use your chalk line to affect the game in different ways, for example different types of bullets with different properties then just the standard purple and white ones. Chalk maybe just a freeware game. But it is so unique in what it does that I can't help wanting Konjak to develop Chalk into something more then what it is now. What I find surprising is that Chalk hasn't been developed into something worthy of a commercial release, as this game screams out like a banshee to be ported over to the DS with it's stylus controls. And while I'm on that train of thought, those of you who have a tablet and pen controller should really try it out with this game. I don't own a tablet but after Chalk on the DS, I bet a tablet comes in as the 2ND best way to play Chalk.

Even though I wish Chalk was so much more then what it is, I can't take away what Chalk really is, A game that although very short is allot of fun (and this is from someone who generally hates action games to be mouse controlled). And even though a freeware title does have good presentation to it. 3.9 out of 5