Friday, December 17, 2010
By: Matthew Doucette
"‘Bullet hell’ is a term that I never truly came to terms with, as there are many layers that encompass it, much like Dante’s Inferno. In the first layer, you have your basic shooters with bullets flying in every direction, but slowly so as to be easily avoided. Somewhere in the middle are Contra and Metal Slug. But in the final layer, sitting on a throne of bone marrow and Warcraft accounts, is Satan himself, playing both Score Rush and Decimation X3 at the same time". - Chris O'Neal
Score Rush and Decimation X3 – Lords of Indie Bullet Hell
My mind seems to be a bit scrambled at the moment, so you’ll have to forgive me. I just finished eight consecutive games of Score Rush on Xbox LIVE. Imagine being a white blood cell, drifting through the bloodstream on your way to, I don’t know, say a white blood cell rave party, when suddenly a virus appears.
As a fan of science, with no technical expertise or experience, I still imagine playing Score Rush is very similar to what would occur: the white blood cell would immediately fire millions upon millions of bullets at the intruders until they died, and gave up their experience points.
Score Rush, from Xona Games, is very much a throw back to Asteroids, and in this season of Tron: Legacy, the time to play before heading off to the theater is now. As a powerful little block of neon energy floating through an empty space filled with exploding enemies and power-ups, you navigate bullets that spring up on your quest to annihilate every last one. This is what you would call a ‘bullet hell’ experience, and hell it is, in all of its neon glowing glory.
Boss after boss, I felt more like the spaceman traveling at light speed at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey than a player in his own living room. The bright and hyperactive lights backed by a power techno soundtrack are more than enough to sate the hungriest shooter fans and bullet masochists alike. A real-time scoreboard even shows you just how close you are to those poor, brave souls who risked it all to make it into the top ten.
More a fan of Space Invaders than Asteroids? Then check out Decimation X3, also from Xona.
Once again, you’re placed in command of a vehicle capable of immense destruction. As you glide left to right, left to right, and then maybe left to right again, destroying incoming vessels as they too move left to right and back again, you collect power-ups to form shields, enlarge your bullet stream, and destroy everything in your path.
‘Bullet hell’ is a term that I never truly came to terms with, as there are many layers that encompass it, much like Dante’s Inferno. In the first layer, you have your basic shooters with bullets flying in every direction, but slowly so as to be easily avoided. Somewhere in the middle are Contra and Metal Slug. But in the final layer, sitting on a throne of bone marrow and Warcraft accounts, is Satan himself, playing both Score Rush and Decimation X3 at the same time.
Each game is only 80 MSP on Xbox LIVE’s Indie section, so there’s no reason not to own either if you’re a shooter fan. Score Rush can even be played by up to four players. Imagine the amount of bullets on screen at one time (as a single player, I managed to fire off 63,000 bullets before eating it).
If you’re tempted to check these two games out, a word of advice: don’t sit too close to the screen and drink plenty of water.
That is all.
About the Author: I am Matthew Doucette of Xona Games, an award-winning indie game studio that I founded with my twin brother. We make intensified arcade-style retro games. Our business, our games, our technology, and we as competitive gamers have won prestigious awards and received worldwide press. Our business has won $190,000 in contests. Our games have ranked from #1 in Canada to #1 in Japan, have become #1 best sellers in multiple countries, have won game contests, and have held 3 of the top 5 rated spots in Japan of all Xbox LIVE indie games. Our game engines have been awarded for technical excellence. And we, the developers, have placed #1 in competitive gaming competitions -- relating to the games we make. Read about our story, our awards, our games, and view our blog.