Score Rush

Score Rush was one of the inaugural games made available when the Turbulenz site opened its doors and went into public beta in April 2012. Created by Jason and Matthew Doucette of Xona Games this is a browser based port of their Xbox 360 original that rocked the Xbox Live Indie charts upon release. Although still in beta and constantly evolving, along with the platform on which it lives, this is already one heck of a gaming experience.

Xona are masters of the bullet hell shoot-em-up sub-genre and Score Rush is no exception. Powered by the Turbulenz SDK it screams along at a blistering pace, with boss after boss to defeat and thousands of bullets delivered in lethal but mesmerising wave patterns to avoid. Although the on-screen action can get visually overwhelming it always feels fair, and there’s no death-by-dodgy collision detection to be found.

You can tweak the visual effects in the options screen to tone things down if you prefer, but something about the franticness of it kept me striving for the next achievement. Needless to say if your PC/Mac isn’t up to spec then you won’t get far running this game. Yes it may be “browser based” but you’ve still got to have the equivalent GPU horsepower of an Xbox under the hood to really appreciate it.

Special note must be made to the soundtrack. Dragon Music Productions provide the audio that rocks along as your adrenaline flows as you desperately bid to clear just one more wave before inevitable annihilation. If you’ve got a joypad and browser capable of supporting it, then plug it in as this was a dual-stick shooter at birth. Although it maps well to mouse and keyboard it’s still best experienced the way it was meant to be played.

If you’re a game developer then the Turbulenz SDK is well worth checking out. There is a real elegance to the framework and it is blatantly clear it has been constructed by a team of professional game developers. Although it obviously has deep links into the Turbulenz social system for things such as achievements and leaderboards the performance, physics system, asset streaming and ability to update any part of your game, at any time, opens up a lot of options should you wish to create for their network. It will be fascinating to see how it progresses and what the developer adoption rate will be like.

Turbulenz themselves are in very early days, constantly shifting and changing as they expand out upon their original goals. But even at this point they seem to have something no other portal has at the moment: genuinely console quality games. Personally I find this approach highly interesting. There are hundreds of places on the web to enjoy good quality games, from 5 minute coffee-break fillers to epic Flash masterpieces, but they still feel like browser games. Whereas Score Rush and its ilk are like peering into the guts of an Xbox that’s beating inside your browser. It appears as if Turbulenz are coveting an as-yet unexplored “high-end browser gaming” market as part of their strategy. Will this work out in the long term? Time will tell. But for now it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Play Score Rush on, free registration required. Add me as a friend (username: photonstorm) if you’d like to see the local achievement streams in action – and to lay waste to my pitiful highscores :)