Steal of the Week: Scoregasm

Over at IndieGameStand, you can pick up Scoregasm for a pay-what-you-want price ($1 if you want a Steam key). This is a great little dual-stick shooter that reminds me of Smash TV–granted, you’re flying through outer space, but each level has a different layout and series of hazards (from lasers to flamethrowers) and roughly a hundred different enemy types. Moreover, simply clearing the level is more than simply a matter of swiveling around to take out all the foes: you’ve got to reach a specific combo target which either requires you to fly exceedingly risky flights (using timed bursts of your shield to convert enemy bullets into combo charges) or to figure out the tricks behind some of the levels that will either hit otherwise out-of-reach high-value targets or conjure up hidden area bosses. The better you do, the more difficult the course that you’ll unlock: a normal game is only fifteen waves (or levels), but you don’t have to progress through only the normal, hard, or insane levels–you pick the path of least (or most) resistance, depending on the particular achievement you’re trying to pick up. But wait, there’s more! Perfectly clearing a level (unlocking all three paths without getting hit) unlocks an alternate version of the level in which the conditions change–in one, the area shrinks, leaving you almost no maneuverability; in another, you not only have to kill a harder wave of enemies, but you’ve got to collect the vegetables that pop out of their shattered hulls–vegetables, I might add, that don’t look all that different from the oncoming enemies.

All in all, there’s an easy three hours worth of pure gameplay in this–by which I mean non-repetitive, interesting, invigorating, and challenging stuff–and even more if you’re one of those people who likes to grind out high score challenges. For a minimum of $1, it’s an easy recommendation, one that blows away the last twin-stick shooter that impressed me, Symphony. (To be clear, they’re very different games; Symphony randomly generates levels based on your music library and has a decent story revolving around a virus that’s infiltrated your collection. It emphasizes grinding, since you level up your ship’s weapons by clearing your various songs and unlocking increasingly more frenetic enemy attack waves.) Innovation trumps repetition any day of the week, and Scoregasm never hesitates to throw a new challenge your way.

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