Perhaps it's the SHMOpera from Drunken Gamers Radio that's got me in the mood, but lately I've been fascinated by the shoot-em-up genre. The problem is that much like Cory's troubles with Starcraft 2, I simply don't understand the basics of the genre. I have absolutely no clue how to dodge the ridiculous amount of bullets on the screen. My problem with “bullet hell” just happens to be dodging bullets. If only I could get on the other end of the gun—that seems like the easier side to be on.
Turns out it's not. Boss Rush is a SHMUP where you play as the enemy boss, shooting down rebel ships. You take up half the screen, moving slowly, but you can fill the screen with your various attacks as the rebel ship tries to make it's run at you. You have a standard bullet-spray attack, supplemented with several special attacks such as beam weapons, giant laser orbs and, of course, just spraying bullets like crazy.
As fun as that is, there's always the rebel ships to contend with. They come at you from the bottom of the screen, like a standard SHMUP. However, they start off fairly puny. They can receive weapon power-ups fall from the top of the screen to upgrade their weapons. This makes the rebel ships more powerful until you are going to have a seriously hard time dodging their fire, which matters because they can knock off pieces of your ship with their weapons, which can destroy your guns and removes some of your attacks. If they flake off enough pieces to destroy your core, you are dead.
This can get seriously difficult as you face harder and harder challenges. The game is broken-up into discrete missions with specific objectives such as “survive for 30 seconds” or “destroy 10 enemies”. As you progress, you have the option of unlocking other bosses to play as. There are six bosses to play in the game, though one is only available to those who support the game with a $5 donation. There's a giant, slow moving ship, an evil centepede, a robot who drops drone ships, a lunar-lander-type ship and another one that I haven't unlocked yet. There's plenty of variety here.
The graphics are clean geometric shapes that work well when trying to aim for a tiny ship among a background of bullets and laser beams. There's also a 2-player versus mode which I unfortunately haven't tried out, as well as a survival mode which I haven't unlocked. A $5 donation also gives you an extra boss to play and a cheat menu to extend the life of the game, which I immediately purchased. I did mention how I really, really suck at SHMUPs, right?
Why You Should Check This Out: A twist on the shoot-em-up standard gameplay, Boss Rush lets you play as the boss ship taking on fast, maneuverable fighters who are chipping away at your armor and weapons the whole time. Fun gameplay, challenging levels, varied boss characters and several game modes keep this game interesting throughout. If you like shoot-em-ups or just occasionally to “play as the bad guy,” there's plenty here to enjoy.