Sunday, December 12, 2010

Score Rush

Pixel Perfect Production Proudly Passes Peers, Presents Players Performance Proudly.

Click To Download the Trial

I must admit to being a little concerned about my ability to play this game. My concerns were unfounded of course, especially once I realized that my ship's collision box wasn't actually the entire ship. No, that tiny pixel there in the lower right of the screenshot above, surrounded by a green energy field is. It's actually a 4x4 pixel grid.

Maneuvering that tiny dot through the stream of rainbow colored bullets required me to sit extremely close to the screen and my speakers. Something I highly recommend that everyone does. Please remember to always go to 11.

Score Rush, developed by Xona Games as a part of the indie games winter uprising is not quite horizontal and not quite vertical. Actually my knowledge of SHMUPS is not extensive. Luckily others have expounded on the matter in great length and detail. The playfield under consideration is similar to Geometry Wars, as in slightly bigger than my television set. It allows for a bit of movement to the game's camera which is nice but I'm still a bit undecided about the style, part of me wants to see everything and part of me likes to imagine the unknown.

The Geometry Wars reference is not without its merits, indeed,

Brittany says, "It looks like Geometry Wars, MAKE SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Stop writing everything I say." She doesn't call herself a gamer but I know better.

I don't mind that Score Rush recalls memories of such a classic game, and the fact that we are only charged a tenth of what we were charged for Geometry Wars is pretty interesting I think. I still play Geometry Wars from time to time, and that game is going on five years old. Will Score Rush hold up to this test of time?? Or is it even supposed to? 

Xona Games The developers of Score Rush, call it a spiritual sequel to Duality ZF, their upcoming XBLA release. Score Rush uses the same engine as Duality ZF. I believe that Score Rush is more of a tech demo actually, showcasing to the gamer what their engine can do. But here we begin to blur the lines of what exactly constitutes a game and so we must retreat.

At any rate, Score Rush is probably in the top five percent of enjoyable titles on the indie channel, at least to me. 1500 games on the channel, 75 that I have thoroughly enjoyed. That sounds about right.

When I play SHMUPS, score is not my main concern. In fact I purchased Geometry Wars about the same time I got my first HDTV. I was interested in how the colors would look mostly. Score Rush definitely delivers in this regard. My only problem is that my ship always tends to explode just when the screen is being lit up to its full capacity. But is this problem worth looking into and fixing?

Whenever you start a playthrough you are offered a helpful tip on the loading screen. One said, "Find your path through the stream of bullets." A bit Zen there but I did make some attempts. Perhaps this game does require the player to enter into a sort of trance while they play. To that end,

Auditory stimulation of the senses. Sound is extremely important to any game,  perhaps even more so than the Visual aspects. 

Copy from the Xona Press Release,
"The 60 fps adrenaline-rush experience is complemented by a hard-rocking Dragon Music Productions soundtrack" 

I'm not much of a fan of the game's soundtrack but I just load up whatever I think will get me into the zone and blast it at maximum value. Adult Contemporary usually results in very short games, but I've been having excellent results playing along to Dan Deacon,


One of the game's menu screens encourages the user to Blog about the game and SHMUPS in general. Which I am doing now as you are of course aware. Matthew from Xona Games has also asked bloggers to blog about XNA Connect issues, which affect the future of the XBOX Indie Channel and so are good to vote on. Making and voting on Connect issues is one of my guilty pleasures in this life,

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rise Up, Gaming...

Well, I hope you have been enjoying some of these Xbox Indie Uprising Releases as much as I have. We are about halfway through it and I think the best of them are still yet to come. I'm particularly looking forward to Alpha Squad myself.

To me it's not so much the games, but the ideas behind the games, and the process that must have occurred for these games to appear on our 360 Dashboard. A space for independent developers on a consumer games console with limited oversight from the console manufacturer on what shall and shall not appear in that space, That kind of thing just doesn't happen overnight. The Indie Channel spent a good portion of time as a beta on the web and then a beta on the dashboard before it was ready for primetime as they say. And here we are two years later with nearly 1500 games on the service. Some are great, some are not, and some should probably be sent back to the drawing board.

I'd like to draw your attention to Microsoft Connect. It's a website where users of MS products can easily submit feedback and log bugs concerning Microsoft Products. There is a page on this site dedicated to all things indie games and there are a number of suggestions listed currently which you can vote and comment on. Here is just a sample of them,

Create an "Indie Game Winter Uprising" list under the XBLIG dashboard

Optional Free Playtesting Membership

XBLIG Leaderboard/Highscore Access

XBLIG Achievement Access 

To access these issues and vote on them just click on the link below,

And scroll down a bit, looking for the XNA Game Studio line, there should be a sign in link on the far right. Sign in with your Windows Live ID and you can start voting on issues that affect XBLIG Development, Distribution, and Our Indie Game presence on the 360 Dashboard among other things. Vote Early, Vote Often and leave lots of comments. Come on now, who doesn't like leaving comments??

Friday, December 3, 2010


Deep space welding by wire

No, but that robot did cost a few million to manufacture, is it the same?

UberGridder from BadgerPunch Games continues the Winter Uprising. It's a sort of thinking man's pacman where you don't actually have to think. The protagonist is a nicely rendered three dimensional robot who is displayed on a two dimensional plane.  Programmed to build in a vacuum our robot finds company where there was expected to be none. The work continues regardless.

I've often wondered what we will be listening to when we finally reach the stars, and are given eternity to contemplate.The background music to this game sounds like it might be pretty close. I found it very relaxing.  There might be a couple tracks that the game loops through so I will have to play again to hear more.

Here's the website of the game's musician, pretty good stuff,

I played through the trial a few times on the XBOX, not really anxious to get the level complete, I just knew that it would eventually get done. If it wasn't for those pesky monsters! For some reason I got stuck on level 3. The high score table lists a nine as the highest level so I assume there's that many levels. Unless it is endless.

Interestingly I had a look at the developer's website and noticed there was a windows version available for download.

The version plays very similar, although I found the arrow keys to be a simpler control method.  

Our robot is designed to continue on his path until he reaches a junction or receives input from the user. Input being a direction of movement along the construction grid. What I liked about the game was sending the directional input before the junction, and then releasing the button to watch as the robot processed my command and turned at the appropriate time. I made it to level four on the windows version of the game, and noticed the speed had increased significantly, kickin' it up a notch

How much would you expect to pay for this casual mix of hardcore gameplay? If you said 80 MS Points you are correct. If you're addicted you will probably buy this game, if you're like me you will create a website devoted to XBOX Indie Games in order to obtain copies of the games released there. Either way, as long as everyone plays.