Title: Score Rush Extended
Available On: PlayStation 4
Developer: Xona Games
Publisher: Xona Games
Official Site: http://xona.com/scorerush/
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Where to Buy: Playstation Store
Score Rush Extended is what happens when you take Galaga, reskin it with modern graphics, inject it with pure adrenaline and teach it to play metal guitar. Developer Xona’s intense shmup (shoot ‘em up or shooter if you’re not a fan of portmanteaus) is a non-stop stream of intense action that punishes lapses in focus and rewards player skill.
You control a ship tasked with gunning down hordes of other invading ships while dodging an unending stream of incoming fire. It’s a constant barrage of light, sound and action that concentrates gameplay into an intense burst. It can be picked up and played for as little as five minutes before heading off to work, but it’s addictive to the point where “one more” before bed can quickly get out of hand and deprive you of sleep.
The gameplay itself is as pure and simple as it gets. The two sticks move and shoot while you have a button to launch one of the three bombs you start each game with and a button to slow your ship, giving you more control when maneuvering through incoming fire. Success all comes down to constant movement and skill. Lesser enemies unleash insane amounts of fire in unpredictable directions, making the periods in-between boss battles the most challenging. Bosses come with repeating patterns that change and throw curveballs as the battle progresses, but I found that when I would get to a boss, I could almost take a quick breath before the next round of small enemies.
As you progress into a run, the screen begins to get truly chaotic. You collect orbs marked P and O which magnetize toward your ship when you destroy the corresponding containers. Ps make your main ship’s guns grow, enlarging your cone of fire with each one. Os grant you little helper orbs that shoot lasers and attach themselves to your ship like a centipede, lengthening your tail more and more until it gets to screen wide proportions. These, while acting as a huge boon to your damage dealing range and potential, increase the challenge of keeping track of your ship amongst all the mayhem, especially because peripheral vision is so important to staying alive and it’s easy to lose the main ship which is the only one susceptible to damage. You’re given two lives on top of your original one with the possibility of getting a 1up at a 100 million points. Dying, however, can be incredibly difficult to recover from later in the game as you lose all of the accessories you’ve built up, with a small percentage of them available for recovery when you respawn.
Score Rush Extended boasts 4 different game modes, but this is a bit misleading. There is score rush and boss rush. Score rush is the base game where you fight a swarm of lesser enemies between each of the eight boss battles. Boss rush strips most of the lesser enemies away facing you down with the same eight bosses except a bit more beefed up. Each of these modes has two ways to play – solo and dual. Solo is the basic mode and, as the name implies, you have one ship. Dual gives you … wait for it … two ships side by side, tethered together so they move as one unit.
In the end, the four modes all feel pretty similar and the lack of true diversity between them hurts replayability as once you’ve defeated all eight bosses, the need to continue dissipates a bit. There is still the carrot of chasing high scores, but I’d argue that this isn’t quite as alluring as it was in the days where gaming options were more limited and local arcade machines made legends of ordinary people.
It has local multiplayer that supports up to 4 players and online leaderboards that track high scores for each mode. The biggest feature that’s missing is the ability to play co-op with others online. This would be great for those who don’t own four PS4 controllers but would still like to team up with others to tackle the challenges presented.
The graphics are clean and simple. They don’t try to do too much with the ships or the bosses, but it’s for the best. The never-ending stream of flashing lights and orbs provide more than enough eye candy to satisfy the human need to watch pretty colors interact. It’s already a lot to take in and I would not recommend extended periods of uninterrupted play for the sake of eye health. People with sensitive eyes beware.
It’s menu is presented in a nice, clean arcade package, perfectly blending new age polish with old school feel. The second you load it up, you are two quick button clicks from being thrust into the action. There is no tutorial, just a screenshot of a PS4 controller and the four relevant buttons identified.
The gameplay is augmented well by the soundtrack which is pure face melting metal provided by Dragon Music. I expected it to wear me down with its repetition, but it perfectly fits the pick up, play, then walk away nature of Score Rush Extended. Even those who aren’t fans of metal will find themselves unable to imagine Score Rush with any other soundtrack (even a musical theater-loving roommate of mine couldn’t help but tap her feet). The sound effects are also top notch. The sounds of collected power ups ringing from the speaker in my PS4 controller was particularly satisfying, and it evoked nostalgic memories of old school arcade gaming that made me wish my system had a quarter slot just for flavor.
In the end, Score Rush Extended has a very clear focus and it succeeds in what it is trying to do. It provides an adrenaline-packed, pick up and play experience that satisfies our primal need to destroy hordes of space invaders. The $11.99 price tag makes it well worth the cost, if not for the instant gratification that it offers, then for the time machine trip back to the simpler days of gaming.
- Gameplay: Simple, Unrelenting and Fun
- Graphics: Clean, Colorful and Fun to Look at
- Sound: Metal and Satisfying Sound Effects, What’s Not to Love?
- Presentation: Captures the Old School Arcade Feel Perfectly
- Great gameplay
- Looks and sounds great
- Lack of unique game modes
- No online multiplayer
A fiction writer and journalist living in Los Angeles who enjoys all things gaming and film.