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Ibara (鋳薔薇) is very similar to 8ing/Raizing's Battle Garegga and Battle Bakraid games. So much so that Ibara could be considered a pseudo-sequel or, at least, a spiritual successor. The similarities are numerous - some are subtle, some are easily spotted. These include combining archaic technology such as biplanes with more advanced machinery; firing and a power-up system; and a medal collecting system which drastically increases scoring. The game features a similar method of earning bombs and a delay when launching them as well. Some of the enemies and their attack patterns are very familiar such as the large cranes in stage 1 and the minigun-wielding first boss. The enemy's explosions spiral around when destroying some of the heavier weapons/scenery and thin, while seemingly camouflaged enemy bullets are scattered around the play area in comparable patterns. More subtle references include the HUD layout which lists the name of the current stage at the top of the screen and, when starting a stage, tells users the title of the background music that is playing.
A notable feature of Ibara is the inclusion of a variable, real-time difficulty system by way of the Rank system. The player's rank increases as they acquire more items and cause more damage, increasing the difficulty of the game along with it. The number of enemies does not increase but the number of bullets fired towards the user does, often reaching a ridiculous level of bullet density. There are ways of lowering this rank system if the odds appear too much. The only known way of decreasing the player's Rank in Ibara is to die. The more lives you have, the less the rank decreases when you die. In the later version, Ibara Kuro: Black Label, Rank can be decreased by cancelling bullets with a bomb, however Rank also increases much faster in this version, potentially increasing from minimum to maximum in a matter of seconds.
Rank System Overview
Ibara features a dynamic difficulty, or "Rank" system similar to that found in Battle Garegga. Most actions taken by the Player will increase the Rank, which also continuously rises with every frame of play time. The only known way to decrease the Rank is to die, either by accident or with planned suicides.
Almost every action taken in the game will increase the Rank:
- Firing a bullet from the main weapon or Options
- Collecting an item (all items, including Power-Ups, Options, Medals, and even the 1-UP item, will increase Rank)
- Using a Bomb or Hadou
- Sealing enemy bullets
Ibara's Rank system is quite complex, but there are a few basic principles that can help new players:
- The Rank will decrease more if you die with fewer lives in stock. In other words, if you have only 1 spare life and die (thus leaving you with 0 stock), it will decrease the difficulty twice as much as if you died with 2 lives in stock.
- Partial Bombs will increase rank more rapidly than Full Bombs.
- The Hadou Gun will increase rank even more rapidly than either kind of Bomb.
- Collecting Power-Up and Option items will always increase Rank, even if the items do not impart a change to the Player (IE: collecting Power-Up items while at full shot strength will still raise rank).
- Raising your autofire rate does not affect the per-frame Rank; however, since you are firing bullets more rapidly, it does still affect the rate at which Rank will build over time.
Rank System In-Depth
Rank value is stored internally as a hexadecimal value, which is actually 'inverted' compared to the Player's experience of it - as this value decreases, the game gets harder. Because it is more consistent with the user experience, it is customary to refer to the increase in game difficulty as 'increasing the Rank', even though that is not technically accurate to the internal implementation.
There are two separate settings determining the rank in Ibara. Difficulty 1 determines only the starting rank and has no further effect on the gameplay. After the player has started a run, the rank is then gradually increasing determined by difficulty 2, which is the per frame rank increase.
Depending on the number of runs played during one continuous session, the starting rank will gradually increase. Starting rank can be reset either by entering the test menu or by powering down the PCB. The values in the table below are taken from the first run after powering up the PCB.
|Difficulty 1 (starting rank)||Decimal||Hexadecimal|
|Difficulty 2 (per frame rank)|
- Rank maxes out at 00,000,000 (000,000 in hex) regardless of the difficulty settings.
- Starting rank for Harder mode is 8,808,032 (866,660 in hex) on default settings.
- Starting rank for Extended mode is the same as on Normal mode on default settings.
Rank is influenced by certain actions of the player, e.g. firing your Shot or picking up an item. All of the actions that have an effect on rank are listed in the tables below. Even though, an increase in difficulty is actually measured by a decreasing rank counter, the numbers below are listed as if the rank counter would count up. This is simply to make things easier to follow.
|Action||Rank increase in decimal||Rank increase in hexadecimal|
|Death from 1 life > 0 lives||-2,097,152||-200,000|
|Death from 2 lives > 1 life||-1,048,576||-100,000|
|Death from 3 lives > 2 lives||-524,288||-80,000|
|Death from 4 lives > 3 lives||-262,144||-40,000|
|Death from 5 lives > 4 lives||-131,072||-20,000|
|Seal a bullet||4,096||1,000|
- Cancelling bullets turning them into rose items has no effect on rank.
- Grazing enemy bullets has no effect on rank.
|Item||Rank increase in decimal||Rank increase in hexadecimal|
|100pt. Rose Item||256||100|
|200pt. Rose Item||512||200|
|400pt. Rose Item||768||300|
|800pt. Rose Item||1,024||400|
|Shot Power Up (small)||4,096||1,000|
|Shot Power Up (large)||65,536||10,000|
|Bomb Item (small)||8,192||2,000|
|Bomb Item (large)||131,072||20,000|
- Dropping a medal has no effect on rank.
- Collecting excess items for score has no additional effect on rank.
- Powering up with with a Shot Power Up (small or large) has no effect on rank.
- Reaching the next full bomb with a Bomb Item (small or large) has no effect on rank.
- Triggering any of the Special Options has no effect on rank.
|Attack (per full burst)||Rank increase in decimal||Rank increase in hexadecimal|
|Regular Shot (Shot Level 0~2)||30||1E|
|Regular Shot (Shot Level 3)||40||28|
|Regular Shot (Shot Level 4~5 and Special)||50||32|
|Activating a Hadou Gun||69,632||11,000|
- The values for Regular Shot have been tested for Dyne (A). They may or may not differ for Bond and the different sub types.
- While activating a Hadou Gun has an effect on rank as indicated, actually releasing it has no effect on rank.
Programmer Shinobu Yagawa previously worked on the games Recca, Battle Garegga, Armed Police Batrider, and Battle Bakraid. Ibara has much more in common with these games than with much of Cave's other releases, many of which were primarily developed by Tsuneki Ikeda.
During the development of Ibara, Yagawa was allegedly instructed to remake 'that game' - a veiled reference to Battle Garegga.(ED: needs sourcing!)
The game was released in arcades in July 15, 2005, and it was released on the PlayStation 2 on February 23, 2006.
To remedy some of the concerns fans had with the original version of the game, Cave released an updated version in limited distribution called Ibara Kuro: Black Label. It was released on February 10, 2006. The update contains many additions, some of which appeared earlier in the released PlayStation 2 port in the form of Arrange Mode.
A sequel, Pink Sweets: Ibara Sorekara, was released in the arcades on April 21, 2006.
Ibara was not as well received as other Cave games upon release. It is often claimed that Ibara was not very popular with arcade players or operators; several Ibara PCBs are known to have been sent back to Cave to be converted into other games that work on the CV1000B hardware platform. (ED: needs sourcing!) Weekly Famitsu magazine awarded the PlayStation 2 version of Ibara a score of only 26/40 based on four reviews (7/7/6/6).
- In-depth rank info from an unpublished document written by Archer (dated September 17th 2011)