A Climactic Battle: Scoregasm

By John Walker on June 4th, 2010 at 2:11 am.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

You know what I like? A nice bit of quiet. Not silence – that’s for creepy people. But a quiet sit down, some nice music, maybe a good book. Just imagine it. Think about sitting down with your feet up, a favourite song floating around you, as you thumb through the pages of a gentle story. It’s Tuesday afternoon, but you’ve got the week off work. No responsibilities, no pressures on your time, and a week of sunny calm stretching out in front of you. Mmmmmm. Now please watch the nine minutes of footage from Scoregasm, below:

Thanks to Lewie, who spotted this on Indiegames, for making me a bit scared to go to bed. Watching it frightens me. Most of my life is spent with too much to do and not enough time to get it done in. Deadlines, meetings, forms to fill in, taxes to get done, the phone ringing, a screen of IM windows asking me to do something… MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT ALL STOP!

Or you might see a really extraordinary looking shoot-em-up from Charlie’s Games. It’s an intense, migraine-threatening frenzy, which focuses on combos (in a game called Scoregasm, shouldn’t they be called “multiples”?) for successful high scores. Here’s details on that:

Building up your combo meter does a variety of things, including powering up your shots, adding extra weaponry and increasing the size of your death sphere! Also, each level has different combo targets, which if met will open up exits to new levels in the galaxy.

If you hit a combo target, the level goes into Scoregasm frenzy mode, and extends 10 seconds! depending on which target you hit, you’ll either get a regular frenzy, or a Super Frenzy – where every enemy you kill turns into a love heart.

Charlie is hoping to get the game finished for the end of Summer this year, but the beta can be bought for $15 right now. Or you can pay $10 now as a pre-order and get it when it’s released.

We have, of course, mentioned Charlie before. Last year he released the quite remarkable Space Phallus. Let us not forget that. You can also get his game Irukandji for “whatever you want(ish)” – the minimum price is a dollar.

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26 Comments »

  1. Kieran says:

    That video is what is playing on the telly whenever TV depicts people playing video games. You know, kids holding Megadrive controllers backwards, frantically jumping around and hammering the buttons while you hear what is essentialy the soundtrack to that video playing.

  2. Kevbo says:

    Interesting looks like a mix of Ikaruga and an early Xbox live game that is slipping my mind for some reason. That first and second boss in the beginning of the video was definitely influenced by Ikaruga. I’ve played that game enough times to recognize it instantly :)

    Thanks for the heads up though, I’ll check it out.

  3. sebmojo says:

    There’s a 90′s game called ‘Wargasm’ (which still makes me feel dirty typing it) which did the ‘multiple’ joke for its MP. Never played it, but as I recall it was sort of Ground Controlly?

  4. Urthman says:

    Looks sorta like Mutant Storm from Pom Pom Games.

    • Rhygadon says:

      That was my impression too … and if borne out, that would be a Good Thing. I’ve yet to find a twin-stick shooter that comes anywhere close to Mutant Storm for enduring replay value.

  5. Rhygadon says:

    Hmm, but the same guy also made Bullet Candy? I found that one strangely tedious and unplayable. Maybe because the rules are never really explained, at least on the Steam version. It just seemed slow and relatively strategy-free, though I may well have been missing some crucial dynamic. In games like this, pure score-wankery doesn’t really do it for me; it needs to be tied in to some mechanic that actually alters the flow of play.

    • Fetthesten says:

      My impression exactly. Bullet Candy was a bit odd; I bought the two-game bundle and found the sequel to be both uglier and less entertaining, which doesn’t bode well for this. Also, Mutant Storm is still excellent.

  6. mcnostril says:

    This reminded me of Squid Harder.

  7. Pmeie says:

    mutant storm not out on pc? i assume the brothersoft download for it is fake/virus? thx

  8. lhzr says:

    there’s also a beta for mutant storm empire, for 5$: http://pompomgames.com/?p=108

    also scoregasm is really good, much better than bullet candy and irukandji.

    • Bhazor says:

      I was going to say it had a definite Mutant Storm look to it. Which is a very good thing.

  9. Charlie says:

    Hi, thanks for the mention :D

    Scoregasm is my attempt to right the wrongs i made with Bullet Candy if you like. I’m not saying Bullet Candy is a bad game, but it’s main score mechanic was counter intuitive so a lot of people didn’t get it, the levels were same-ey, plus it just old now(i released it 5yrs ago!).

    So with Scoregasm i’ve packed as much variety into the levels as i can, and along with the levels in the video there’s scrolling sections (both horizontal and vertical), levels with little some simple traps/puzzles that open more exits and multiple routes through the game with different endings etc. and a few homages to some of my favorite shooters past and present.

    I’ve also changed tack a bit from the typical arena shooter defensive gameplay style (where you run away from enemies and shoot them from a distance) and given you the ability to play aggressively, which changes the feel of the game quite a bit and lets you show-off a bit more. You can see me punching my way through some screen filling bullet fields in the video for example, that sort of thing isn’t very difficult to pull off, and feels pretty cool when you get it right :)

    Anyway, thanks again :)

    Cheers
    Charlie

    • Rhygadon says:

      Hi Charlie, thanks for stopping by!

      Interesting idea re: more aggressive play; that does sound like it could be a nice change of pace.

      It does also at least partially explain the worry I had while watching the video, which was something like “Hmm, there’s a wide-radius shot-destroyer that seems usable more or less at will. He’s never dying, and never seems at risk of dying. So is the challenge just to not-die in a way that racks up more combos?” If I remember right, the first death doesn’t happen until several minutes in, and even at that point it seems like just a matter of slipping up, of not having remembered to hit the shot-destruction button before reversing directions.

      I confess my memories of Bullet Candy are a bit hazy, but the common thread here may be a sense of disconnect between the survival pressure (which seems relatively low and constant over time) and the scoring tricks; a sense that high scores may be a reward for deftness but don’t involve doing anything *riskier* than usual.

      I certainly wouldn’t want to say that these two factors always have to be linked — that would be base genre-conservatism! But it might be worth thinking about what can *replace* risk-of-death as the source of visceral investment in a score-chasing game.

      Going with the aggression angle — are there things that would count as “defeats” or “near-misses” in the aggressive-score-chasing realm? For example, entites that you have to avoid because killing/collecting them will break your combo? Essentially, what I’m looking for here is a way in which the world can still “fight back” and make you sweat, even if what’s at issue isn’t survival …

  10. Will Tomas says:

    As Marine Hyde pointed out in the Guardian recently, there’s a very different type of Scoregasm to tie in with the World Cup…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/jun/03/world-cup-2010-tat-merchandise

  11. duncanthrax says:

    Looks Minterish. But it seems to be missing sheep. Strong buy anyway.

    • lhzr says:

      i like charlie’s games (heh) better than minter’s.

      minter – more psychedelic. charlie – more fun.

    • Rhygadon says:

      If you want to see why Minter is a god, I recommend picking up the original Gridrunner++ (available directly from llamasoft, cheap-ish, DRM-free). Gridrunner Rev I thought was OK, Space Giraffe was fun but got a bit old. But GR++ is astonishingly perfect, in ways that (as is par for his games) unfold for you over time as you get better.

      Don’t trust the demo, it’s OK but doesn’t let you get to the stages that put the thing over into divine territory. Get the game, play it for an hour or so, sleep on it, THEN go back and read the “strategy guide” page on his website, and your brain will explode. It’s unbelievable how much information and control he packs into a seemingly just “psychedelic” set of visuals. Once you adapt, you will be able to do things that seem impossible to you even as you’re doing them.

    • Rhygadon says:

      (Rereading my comment, I realized I come off as assuming that lhzr’s opinion could only be grounded in ignorance. Not my intent, so my apologies if it seems that way! Different (or no) gods for different folks, and all that.)

  12. charlie says:

    Hi Rhygadon,

    To explain the mechanics a bit more, the ultimate goal is to get a high combo, which is achieved by killing things. If you leave it too long between blowing things up your combo starts to drop. This is where the close range attack comes in as it allows you to link together waves of enemies by scoring combo points from the bullets they fire, and you can get double points for killing enemies using it.

    It does run out however, but you can charge it back up by shooting things, so when you see me using it almost at will in the video it’s because i’m balancing the enemies i’m killing between shooting them and using the close range attack. When i die in the video, i’m basically trying to show off too much and i’d left it a little too late to charge it back up.

    Hope that explains things a little better!

    Cheers
    Charlie

    • Rhygadon says:

      Aha. That makes sense, though I can’t yet tell whether the mechanism could yield the sort of pressure I was talking about. The worry is that if both the “bullets” and the enemies function mainly as resources to be harvested, the only real pressure will come from the desire to perfectly execute a score-maximizing combo. In my experience, that kind of goal *by itself* is not engaging enough to keep me coming back to a game after the first few plays. I need the game-world to be something I’m struggling with, not just a field of resources that I’m trying to harvest optimally.

      But anyway, thanks for the explanations, and when you reach the demo stage I’ll definitely check it out!

  13. charlie says:

    Well, the game world is another aspect also linked into the combo stuff. By getting a combo above a set target you open up different exits that can take you to different parts of the game. You might have spotted the level select screens in the video, each one of those warp things take you to a completely different level, so it’s possible to finish the game and see only a third of what’s there.

    The warps are designed so that you can play the game as you wish, so you can choose for example to play through the easiest levels, or just your favorites or which ever route you think will get you the best score or whatever. It also addresses an issue i have with some other games (Bullet Candy included) in that in order to get to the more challenging/interesting/fun sections you have to play through all the levels that come before, or skip to those levels and end up having a shorter game. In this you can take a hard exit at the end of the first level, and play more difficult levels without cutting your game short.

    Also, i’ll add that i’m more than likely making the game look much easier in the video than it actually is. I’ve been playing the game every day for a year, plus i know the game inside out. In terms of pressure, it’s there, skirting through those fields of bullets takes just a smidgen of practice ;•)

    Cheers
    Charlie

  14. Lucas says:

    The score-blipping-popcorn sounds in this video drove me nuts in mere seconds.

  15. kennycrown says:

    Thanks for the heads up though, I’ll check it out.