This stroke me recently when I told someone, who I just got to know, about my favorite games. It became clear to me that Ikaruga was the initiator of something that now has become a very important aspect of my life and free time enjoyment - gaming & collecting.
I played the game for more than 450 hours and I actually became pretty good at it. I could chain every chapter (not with perfect world record strategies, but rather close) and of course beat it with a few lives in stock resulting in my final record of 30.5 million. It occupied and fascinated me for more than 2 years (between ~January 2004 - sometime 2006), I found many friends because of this game through online shooter forums and started collecting Japanese games & 2D shooters because I wanted to "repeat the Ikaruga experience" (like a drug, eh?).
0) Found Ikaruga video on local magazine's DVD, looks good.
1) Got a bootleg version & a PAL Dreamcast, started playing Ikaruga
2) joined 2D shooter forums, found many companions
3) bought legit copies of JPN Dreamcast games including Ikaruga
4) got hooked to collecting 2D shooters & Japanese games
5) got into the collector's community, both in German and English language
6) became a maniac collector & 2D shooter fan (Today)
Talking about a butterfly effect!
Considering that no game, including the brilliant CAVE or Toaplan shooters that I played later on and that I also love, had the same effect on me so far, I somehow doubt that I would've gotten so hooked to the scene in so little time without a game like Ikaruga. And after all these years, I still consider Ikaruga the most brilliant masterpiece in shooter/puzzle history. Everything plays out absolutely perfect, there is space and consideration of the most difficult and insane strategies and things.
Whoever calls it overrated while still sucking at it should rethink their opinion. You really only recognize the true quality once you see how perfect it is.
A couple of decades back, people would say their defining moments were a particular movie, or a certain book. Well, I had my moment with a game that creates a world of perfection. I think it's just a modern approach to the same thing :)
Not that it defines all my life, but it's probably that piece of popculture that has influenced my life the most as of now.
Just wanted to share this little story with you guys, maybe it was at least good for a laugh! :P