My first introduction to bullet hell shmups came through a friend's recommendation. They couldn't stop singing the praises of Ikaruga and extolled all and sundry to try it out. Try it out I did, and I immediately saw the attraction.

Truth be told, however, much as I loved the game, and despite the hours I dedicated to perfecting my runs through it, I hadn't given it a second thought for years. So why am I writing this now? A couple of days ago I saw Ikaruga on sale in the Nintendo eShop on my daughter's Switch, and, surprised at how long had passed since I last played it, decided to pick it up for old time's sake.

What can I say? Right from the opening sequence I was enthralled all over again. The sweeping visuals, the music, the perfectly choreographed patterns, the score chaining and, of course, the polarity switching mechanic, so original back in the day, and which has aged as perfectly as the rest of the game. Every aspect of the game, of the experience, is absolutely perfect.

It is hard to believe that Ikaruga is approaching its 20th anniversary. It is hard to believe that it is almost 18 years since I was first enthralled by it. It is hard to believe that picking it up again brings all the same emotions flooding back as if I were playing it for the first time.

Ikaruga truly is a masterpiece.