From cult video game-maker Treasure (the same folks behind Gunstar Heroes, one of my favourite video games) came this unique arcade vertical shooter. I would never play this (‘cos I’m a psycho-motor moron and would doubtless die a terrible death in 34 seconds) but I recall seeing Ikaruga in a Japanese arcade and liked the concept and game design right away.
The simplicity is clever. Unlike other games in its genre, Ikaruga has neither a confusing array of weapons for you to cycle through, nor power-ups for you to grab along the way. Instead, in a simple, elegant twist, you reverse polarities, making your ship flip between black and white colours. While white, you can absorb and store white bullets; while black you can absorb and store black ones. Store enough and you can unleash a wave of homing beams. Get hit by a bullet or enemy of reverse polarity and you blow up. Likewise, hit an enemy with reverse polarity and it takes twice the damage.
I also like the Japanese Buddhism-inspired aesthetic. But see the lyricism of the game for yourself:
Also note that this guy (VTF-INO) is playing 2 player-mode on his own. Amazing!