Game Review: Score Rush Extended (PS4)

This 2D top down shoot ‘em up tests a player’s ability to navigate a bullet ridden landscape and destroy as much as they can. It is simple, it is fun, but it is difficult as hell.

Background

XONA, the developer behind Score Rush Extended, has a love for retro arcade shooters.

“…Games in which score, skill, technique, replayability, and finely honed 2-dimensional gameplay are all important.” – Malc SHMUPS.com

XONA believes the beauty of this genre is that SHMUPS can be picked up for 10 minutes at a time but also last for decades. They have applied this passion for retro arcade shooters into Score Rush and met with considerable praise. Score Rush first made its debut on the Xbox Live Indie Games where it dominated the charts in several countries including reaching number 1 in Japan.  This retro SHMUP now finds its way to the PS4.

Atmosphere & Music

Score Rush Extended may remind you of Resogun or Geometry Wars.  Although it is 2D, Score Rush Extended is visually vibrant and feels frantic. Unlike the aforementioned, Score Rush Extended aims to be an even more retro SHMUP. The controls and power up options are simple, hearkening back to the arcade games of the ‘80s, as players are only provided 3 lives to get as far as possible

The soundtrack is provided by Dragon Music, and if you ever wondered what music a dragon listens to, here’s your answer. It’s somewhere between electronica and ‘80s power ballad guitar riffs you find this soundtrack. The music pairs beautifully with the visual overload and tense maneuvering to get players amped-up.

Gameplay and Mechanics

There are two modes: Score Rush Extended and Boss Rush, which can be played solo or with dual fighters. Dual fighters does provide extra firepower and a few more lives, but you have two vulnerabilities to watch out for. They play very similarly however. There are also three difficulties, where the latter two (expert, and “God Like”) can only be played once you have conquered normal.

Score Rush Extended Howtoplay

The controls are very basic; especially only 4 buttons. The two analog dual sticks operate your fighter. Left moves your ship and right fires. This game will put your analog sticks (and maybe your thumbs) through their paces. The other two buttons are a bomb release and a brake system for precision flying.

Gameplay is equally simple. Fly your ship and obliterate everything in your path. Players can also pick up power-ups: O power-ups add a trail of mini fighters behind you and P power-ups increase your ship’s firepower. These conveniently seek you out, so you don’t have to divide your focus to grab a much need boost. Progress is measured by how many bosses you can defeat.  Points are earned by volume and speed of kills. Racking up kills in quick succession and defeating bosses will increase your score, but ultimately your score is a function of how long you can survive.

The challenge in this game is navigating your ship through the storm of enemy fire. In some of the more difficult encounters, the screen can become filled with strings or individual bullets where you will have to zip in between narrow openings, not compromising your precious inner core.  You may find yourself intensely focused on your ship, as it is far more important to dodge the hail of enemy fire. Stay nimble and stay alive.

For such a simple game Score Rush Extended features a relatively high number of customization features. Players can customize a number of visual elements, including the color of the bullets and whether or not they pulse.

Score Rush Extended Customization Menu Options

Online

Score Rush Extended boasts up to four player shared screen madness so your friends can jump right in. If they have their own PSN accounts, they can even sign in and play under their own account with you on your PS4.  There is no online co-op or matchmaking, so you will have to invite your friends over if you want to work together.

Scores are kept individually and posted to international leader boards. This means you are not only competing against yourself or your friends; you are competing against everyone who plays.

Score Rush Extended 2 Player Chaos
Two Player Chaos

Replay Value

Despite its lack of features, Score Rush Extended entices players to keep playing. The leaderboards are motivation enough to keep trying. The game is not easy, but when you see players with scores past the million point mark, you are reassured it can be done and many players will share the desire to chase those scores.

Score Rush Extended Lead board Screen Shot

Score Rush Extended also features 15 trophies on the PS4, although no platinum, thus adding more objectives to the game itself. What works best for its replayability factor is this title is easy to pick up for a quick game even if you only have ten minutes to spare.

Conclusions

The simple nature of game has lead the developers to offer limited documentation, perhaps in the spirit of retro titles. Some players may find the game repetitive, as there is only one objective. I personally would have liked to see more power up options and 1 UPS offered at less than 100 million points. Seriously, 100 million! That is part of it being a tough game. However, looking at the scoreboards shows it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Score Rush Extended Boss Exploding GIF

Score Rush Extended is a fun game.  It offers a challenge while also providing immensely satisfying visuals, especially when defeating bosses. The high octane soundtrack fits the intense nature of the game perfectly. Simple controls and even simpler goals make the game easy to play but Score Rush Extended still manages to challenge players with overwhelming volume of enemy fire that will require a great deal of skill and precision flying if a player plans to make significant progress.  Practice and persistence do reward the player, so Score Rush Extended never feels insurmountable.  Fans of SHMUPS or retro gaming should add this to their collection.

Score Rush Extended, developed by XONA Games, is available for PS4 on May 31, 2016.

Images © XONA Games

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