Score Rush (XBLA) Review
Title: Score Rush
Publisher: Xbox Live Indie Games
Developer: Xona Games
Genre: Shoot ‘em up
Rated: NR Not rated
Probably one of the oldest genres that sticks to its roots, the shoot ‘em up genre has players trying to dodge waves of bullets while destroying any enemies that come near.
Score Rush, the newest Indie game from Xona Games, does a great job getting the formula down pat, with a good, yet simple, visual style as well. However, one key omission (even though it’s not their fault) keeps this game from being anything more than a few minute time waster.
The goal is simple. You fly a ship around trying to kill as many enemies as possible while dodging a constant stream of bullets. As you dodge around, you sometimes kill an enemy that drops power-ups that increase your bullet stream or adds a helper that fires bullets. Once you max out, power-ups will start launching a red circle that cancels out bullets.
Another way to cancel out bullets is to use bombs. You get three bombs (and three lives) a game, and each bomb can destroy every enemy on screen and cancel all bullets out.
As you go through the game, you’ll run into mini-bosses and the occasional boss as well. Each boss has a pattern you can memorize to dodge the bullets they launch, and the pattern changes the more the boss gets damaged.
One thing to note is that the patterns do not change game after game. The enemies will come down in the exact same places and will launch bullets either in a predetermined spot or right at you. While this does reward repetition and memorization, after you finally beat all the bosses, there really isn’t much reason to go back.
The game also allows for up to four players locally to play, which adds quite a bit of fun if you have people near you that want to play. However, it also increases the chaos by quite a bit, as you can quickly lose your ship when watching the other ship and same-color bullets come down.
The multiplayer also has two other features. Players can share lives with each other, so a player doesn’t have to sit out if they die quickly. Also, power-ups become color coded to the player in last place to try and help them.
The biggest draw to the game is getting a high score, as you can tell from the title. It’s a simple premise, but works well for a game that rewards memorization of bullets with progression. However, what doesn’t work is being an Indie game with this premise.
As a rule, Microsoft doesn’t let Indie games use Xbox Live for multiplayer or leaderboards. Because of this, the only people you can compete against high scores are is yourself. Sure, scores are already programmed in, and you can post your score online to see how it rates compared to people on the forums, but it pales in comparison to being able to check your score against everyone in the world.
The other problem with the game is that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. We’ve seen plenty of bullet-hell shooters before, and the Xbox already has some quality downloadable titles as well, particularly Ikaruga. Sure, the $1 price point really helps make it a quick, cheap purchase, but there are plenty of other titles out there in the genre that have innovated more.
Xona Games has the shoot ‘em up genre down pat, it’s just a shame they can’t do more thanks to the limitations of Xbox-Live Indie games. Fans of the genre will have a good time dodging bullet after bullet and trying to top your previous high scores, but no online scoring function kills a lot of fun this genre can offer. Still, for $1, this offers a good way to kill a few minutes here or there.