Score Rush Extended feels like it has a point to prove from the off. On the main title screen you can select to view a memo that quotes someone from shmups.com. It's a clear line in the sand that this game represents an area of gaming that some believe is dying. Arcade-style, score-based games that require player skill and focus to top leaderboards.
That's fair enough. As much as I love huge games that may not offer anything too challenging but impress in other areas, I'll always have fond memories of the likes of Geometry Wars
that focus on nothing more than pure gameplay.
Whether it's a dying breed is another matter. In fact games like Trackmania
, Velocity 2x
prove that we're not finished with score chasing just yet and while it's no longer the thrust of the medium, there's still a fanbase there that's happy to give AAA games a break and get hopelessly addicted to a bite-sized experience.
started life back on the Xbox 360 and was released via XBLIG, Microsoft's much-missed attempt to give bedroom developers the chance to reach an audience. Although the platform was filled with awful clones and bad ideas a few gems managed to float to the top and Score Rush
managed to capture an audience, mainly in Japan.
Score Rush Extended
is a reboot of the original game with cleaner graphics and not much else. In fact it still feels like it's a long way off reaching the standard we're used to on the new consoles.
The menu is basic, the fonts are awful and the button prompts look like they've been blown up from a scan of a user manual, but maybe I'm being too critical of a game that's clearly been made with more love than money. It's the in-game stuff that matters and soon after entering your first game you can see that this is as pure as a shoot-em-up game can get.
It only takes a few seconds to power up your ship to the point of wielding impressive fire power. Enemies fill the screen quickly and you'll be on your toes dodging bullets and increasing your score.
If you've played a bullet-hell shooter like this before then you'll know what to expect. As you progress more enemies fill the screen with more bullets and you'll fall into a deep focus as you narrowly miss a game over screen.
Bosses take more hits and deal out a larger number of projectiles, power-ups increase how much damage you can put out as well as offering side ships to bring even more mayhem. Bombs clear the screen to get you out of trouble. It's all very standard stuff, but done well enough to not feels like a cheap clone.
It's fun, there's no doubt about that, and when you do eventually explode into a fiery death you'll want to have another crack of the whip, but there's something missing that would turn this decent shooter into an essential one: content.
There's one game mode for the solo player with three difficulty settings and a local co-op multiplayer game if you have friends who are able to keep up, and that's it. There are no side challenges or modes that shake things up a bit. There's no way to try a different type of level with different enemies that spawn in different ways. What you see is what you get and what you expect is a little more.
I'm aware that I'm probably missing the point. After all this is a game that harks back to the days of Pac-Man
and Donkey Kong
. It's not like those games needed any bells or whistles to hook a player in and keep them there. I get that the point of this game is to shun what the medium now sees as 'arcade' and really offer something that was so beloved back in the 80s.
However, I'm not really sure I'd like to go back to that point. As gaming has evolved, so have our expectations. The market now is flooded with games that have a reason to keep you playing beyond just hitting a high score.
I'm sure there are those of you out there who would appreciate the more focused, stripped back roots of Score Rush Extended
and I wouldn't argue that you're wrong in wanting this sort of game in your life, but for me it just feels so dated to play a game that doesn't do everything it can to offer up alternative ways to keep you playing.
With that aside, if you're a fan of arcade shooters and content isn't something you're particularly concerned about then it's hard not to suggest giving Score Rush Extended
a punt. It has that spark of magic that can only be found in these sort of games. Those moments where you forget where you are and who you are as you focus in on a gap amongst a screen full of bullets and manoeuvre your ship between them.
It's a good game. One that runs flawlessly, is designed well enough so that every time you die you'll blame yourself and is enjoyable, albeit for a short period of time.
+ Runs well
+ Fun to play
+ Captures Arcade gaming as we knew it
- Short lived
- Lack of content
SPOnG Score: 6/10