Monday, June 6, 2016
By: Matthew Doucette
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Video Game Review – Score Rush Extended
JUNE 6, 2016 BY SHAUN EDDLESTON
Shaun Eddleston reviews Score Rush Extended…
There comes a time in every video game genre where releasing a game that stands out from the crowd becomes an increasingly difficult task. This is particularly true for the shoot-em-up genre, especially in the “Bullet Hell” section (you know, the ones that are pretty much screens filled with lasers and bullets?). There are literally hundreds of these games on the market right now, and the majority of them don’t deviate too far from the core mechanics of a standard Bullet Hell experience. There’s a number of ways to approach this market saturation, a popular one being to add more features such as score multipliers, charged attacks and powerups, another is to change up the graphics of the games by adding more details to the ships, or even by adding a storyline to flesh things out in between barrages of enemies. A lesser used approach in shmup games is to go back to basics, which is arguably the riskiest move of all. That’s the method Score Rush Extended has gone with, but have they succeeded in making a game that stands out from the loud, bright and chaotic sea of shmup games?
Score Rush Extended, developed by Xona Games, is an update to 2010’s critically acclaimed Score Rush. The aim of the game is simple; shoot and destroy waves of oncoming enemy ships for as long as you can. As far as a story or backstory is concerned, Score Rush Extended doesn’t have one at all. Trimming this from the game makes it feel streamlined, and ensures that your focus is solely on playing the game (which, considering the intense level of difficulty, is a huge plus). Another element that adheres to the “simplicity first” vibe of the game is its control scheme. Score Rush Extended only uses four buttons on the controller, two of which are the thumbsticks to move and fire, with R1 and R2 being to slow your ship down (precision is key in some of the tougher parts of the game) and trigger bombs, respectively. This means almost anyone is able to pick the game up immediately, and a perfect party game.
Throughout the game, there’s a number of powerups to collect, but rather than change the style of your weapon, these serve to just make your rate of fire more widespread and powerful. Once the maximum number of powerups is collected, any further power pickups send a red pulse from your ship that stops most of the enemy’s shots. This may only last for a second, but when used in the midst of a boss battle, it’s a breath of fresh air. Additional help pops up now and again in the form of up to 32 “firing options” (per player!), which adds an extra tail of guns upon each pickup. If you’re completely stuck and panicking behind a barrage of laser death, you can use a bomb to obliterate all the foes onscreen and give you some well needed breathing room, but as there is only three bombs in your inventory with no possibility of replenishing them, this feature is definitely to be used as a last resort. Couple these items up with the fact that if you take a single hit from an enemy shot, then you lose a life, it adds a necessity to strategise on the spot (and quickly).
There are two modes to choose from in Score Rush Extended. The first of these is the regular “Score Rush” mode, where you take on the game in an attempt to gain the highest score possible. There’s some online leaderboards to have a go at rising up the ranks in, which is a great (and old-school) feature to add some longevity to the game. The second of these modes is “Boss Rush” mode, which gets rid of regular enemies and just gives you wave after wave of boss battles. Judging by how insanely busy the game gets in these battles, it’s definitely not one for the faint hearted.
There are a couple of different ways to play the standard game modes as well, which comes in the form of “duality”. Score Rush Extended gives you the option to play “solo”, which gives you a single ship (and more maneuverability) at the expense of weaker firepower, or you can play “dual”, which swaps maneuverability for stronger firepower (and makes it easier for enemies to hit you). Considering these options work for up to four local players at a time onscreen, as well as the additional powerups, things get very loud, very colourful and very difficult almost immediately.
From a graphical standpoint, what you see in Score Rush Extended isn’t majorly different from the first Score Rush game. Everything is still very basic, but with a HD sheen that makes the colours really striking. The player ships and enemies have all seen a slight redesign as well, but when it comes down to it, the game is so all over the place, you won’t have much time to take those designs in before you blow them up (or get blown up yourself). Another great feature is the game soundtrack provided by Dragon Music, which blasts upliftingly appropriate thrash metal tunes as you zap your way through hordes of neon enemies. So getting everything turned up to 200% volume on a big TV is a treat for both the eyes and the ears.
Overall, Score Rush Extended is a great addition to the storied history of what is considered to be one of the last remaining “real” game genres. Everything is simple enough to be picked up by newcomers to shmups (with a section in the options that explains everything you need to know about the genre), but it is challenging enough to keep the hardcore fans busy with much harder difficulties waiting to be unlocked. I would like to have seen some more game options, a bit more variation in the character designs as you progress past each boss and more songs in the soundtrack, but these issues are only minor and don’t detract too much from the game at all.
OK, so it isn’t groundbreaking stuff in any sense of the word, but if you’re looking for a game that offers an immediate blast of purely great gameplay that’ll kick your “just one more go” reflex back into action, Score Rush Extended is absolutely the game for you.
+ Simple to play, but extremely challenging
+ Rewards skill and focus
+ Back to basics graphics & fluid movement
– Not a lot of variation graphics-wise in backgrounds, enemies and bosses
– Music does get a little bit repetitive after a while
– Bare-bones option choices
Shaun Eddleston – Follow me on Twitter
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.