Monday, June 13, 2016
By: Matthew Doucette
Here is the full review:
REVIEW: Score Rush Extended
BY WILLIAM HADERLIE – JUNE 13, 2016
Title: Score Rush Extended
Developer: Xona Games
Publisher: Xona Games
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Genre: Bullet Hell Twin Stick Shooter
Platform: Playstation 4
Age Rating: ESRB E for Everyone
I am one of the people who would consider the PS4 online moniker of “Indiestation 4” to be a compliment more than an insult. However, one classic indie genre that we have not seen many examples of so far is the bullet hell shooter. Enter Score Rush Extended, which is not only a pure bullet hell shooter, but is also twin stick. Usually in the shooter space those two genres do not generally meet, but this is no Geometry Wars, as you will quickly see from the escalating chaos in the following screenshots. The original title, Score Rush, was a beloved little indie gem on XBox Live Arcade back in the XBox 360 days. So they remastered and improved that title, and now have brought it to the Playstation 4 ecosystem.
In many shooters this would be your final shot power… this is actually you at your weakest.
There is a certain Geometry Wars feel to this title. The designs are very geometric and simple and the colors are dazzlingly bright. In addition there is quite literally no story, no tutorials and no on screen messages or anything. While the purity of this choice is admirable, you may want to go into the menu and look at some of the “How to Play” messages so you can get a good idea of what you need to do. The controls themselves are extremely simple, though, involving only two buttons other than the twin sticks. One button is for your bombs, which can do a lot of damage to enemies but are mainly for getting you out of horrible situations. The other button is to (very slightly) slow down time so you can evade the showers of incoming shots. One nice aspect of the simple art design is that it is quite easy to tell where your small hit box is, which can be a problem in other bullet hell shooters. That tiny square in the middle of the ship is your hit box, so that is the only place you need to avoid any hits on.
Now you are starting to play with power, Fred Savage.
It can, of course, become increasingly difficult to even avoid damage on a place that small. There are two ways to help get rid of those waves of incoming bullets. The first, and easiest, way is to use one of your bombs. Unlike some recent shooters that I have reviewed, your bombs in this game are extremely powerful and they cover the entire screen. There is also a significant invulnerability window. But to counter this, you are only given 3 bombs and you won’t see bomb upgrades scattered throughout the stages. Worse, when you die, your bombs are not restored. They are limited use through your entire playthrough. The other way to clear bullets involves one of the upgrades that you can earn by killing enemies. The two upgrades you can earn are Power and Option. Power upgrades can go quite high, but when you do reach the peak, any further power upgrades beyond that send out a blue shockwave circle that will clear out any nearby bullets. So it is very advantageous to simply let those “P” upgrades float in space and rush to grab them only when you really need the help.
The other upgrade is Option, and it is mostly similar to other shooters, giving you a side-along drone that will also fire in the direction you choose. However, an area that makes this one very unique is how many Options you can receive. They will end up trailing you like a giant centipede, as you can see in the above picture. Not only that, but that achievement is not for having every option… That is for having half of them. That’s right, you can have a grand total of 32 Option drones trailing behind you. That is… that is just insane, but in the best of ways.
Somebody stop me!
Another innovative aspect of the game is that there are no stage breaks, and that is something you are going to have to be very careful of. As soon as that crazy ass boss bites the dirt, you will be mobbed by the first enemies of the next stage. They will not pause to give you time to take a drink of wine. No, they will be out for revenge. The boss body will still be sinking into the nether, and you will be getting shot at already. The stages are already fairly short, but this makes the game even quicker than it would have been. There are 8 stages total in the normal score attack mode and you can beat it in under 30 minutes. While it will be initially difficult to actually beat all 8 bosses, that is really not the main appeal of this game. It is truly designed to be a quick pick up and play blast from our arcade past. The lasting appeal is in the score leader boards and in the co-op play. The other modes include a Boss Rush mode and some other local and global co-op games. One of the cool aspects of the co-op is that you also have the ability to revive the other person over time (something you can’t do in single player), and the sheer aesthetic pleasure of seeing 4 different colors of bullet showers decimating the enemy is truly a spectacle.
Apparently the 2nd Amendment is alive and well in space.
And speaking of aesthetics, this game not only looks pretty, but it sounds amazing. The music is really cool and it is very hard rocking. The soundtrack is composed by Nick Dragonas over at Dragon Music. While there is not a lot of song variety, I haven’t gotten bored of it at all. The other aspect of the sound design is the sound effects, and they are truly stellar as well. They aren’t just stellar on the game screen, they also make truly great and fun use of the PS4 controller speaker. The sounds that they used for that speaker were spot on and made the experience even more fun. Overall, it just really reminded me of a great arcade game from back in the day. And this would have been quite a popular one. My only real complaints are its size. It is quite a short game and there is no story and no real bonus features. Extra difficulty modes are unlocked after you beat the game, but they are very similar to a standard run. But that’s not really the point of this game. This game is meant to be a very tight arcade experience for a very reasonable price of $11.99 MSRP. And they succeeded very admirably at their goal. This one is a great gem to have in what I hope to be a steady stream of future bullet hell shooters for the PS4.
Review Copy Provided By Publisher
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.