You should remake the stage 3 boss in some way. That one had really fun patterns.
Anyways, here's some feedback after trying to play the bloody thing for score:
- Spread seems to be best for score, but point-blanking doesn't seem to increase the multiplier any faster during boss battles
- Homing would be great in some areas if it could hit the enemies half the time. It's alright against the stage 2 boss due to the blind spots, but it's still more efficient to just laser bomb it to death. It also really sucks at maintaining or raising the multiplier for some reason. Maybe I'm using it in the wrong places? Or is it meant to be that way? I find it to be unfriendly to use for any situation, even for the second half of the first stage.
- Mid-boss spawns/parts don't give any score, I thought I was milking when I actually wasn't
- Bombs no longer stock upon reaching 0, is that a bug or not?
- Are there secrets or do I just suck at finding them? I've only found 3 extra lives, but nothing much outside of that.
- You'll probably fix the enemy values later but I'll list it here anyways
- Stage 1 thruster entrance multiplier, I think it's supposed to be there but I just want to confirm its existence
- Stray bullets upon defeating a boss during a certain attack. Might want to lengthen the bullet-clearing time to get rid of that.
I've figured out how to break into a 6X multiplier on both stages so far, could reach upwards of ~230k by the end of stage 2 assuming I can get a perfect run. Might be able to go higher if you can elaborate on how the stage clear bonus is calculated. My score sometimes drops by as much as 10k for reasons I don't really understand.
Outside of all that, I don't have much to complain about. I think having three speeds is redundant since you can just tap-move or focus instead, but seeing that you kept the system from Shmoop 1, you've probably found some practical use for it. I haven't found a reason to go less than top speed. Difficulty is about on par with classic arcade normals, stage and boss designs/patterns are both quite good, I find. It's certainly far from awful, generic, or being pointlessly difficult. Breakables for extra points would make it a hell of a lot better I think (breaking the legs of the stage 1 boss, breaking the shields before the mob during stage 2, maybe blow off the head and legs of the stage 2 boss, etc).
The small change to the burst mechanic makes it a lot better and doesn't feel like half a death anymore. Burst might prompt more use (outside of boss battles specifically) if you can exchange something for the multiplier (such as a special attack, temporary damage boost/level 4 attack, just something in exchange for cancelling [X] amount of bullets or exchanging [X] amount of multiplier to make it a little friendlier for non-scoring players/1CCers), but doing so might require the entire game to be re-balanced or changed entirely. It's certainly better than before, but it's still not quite fun to use. I don't exactly recall how the burst was in the initial demo, I might be imagining the invulnerability time and cancel radius to be increasing with each multiplier. I can't really tell since I'm something of a death-bomber, but it feels like that on higher multipliers. If I'm not imagining it, I'd say it's a good addition. If I am, I'd say it might be a good addition.
That's about it from me. It's good the way it is, but there are a lot of little details you can add where you'd want it or a player might expect it. It's fun enough that I've found myself playing for score at this stage of development. If you can clean up the point values, add a few more break bonuses, and polish the burst mechanic a little more, I'd say you'd hit a gold standard. All that should be left after is the presentation and how all the mechanics come together.
Take care. I look forward to the next demo.