i just had an idea that would reconcile icycalm and everyone else: make a game where, if you do not reach a sufficient score by the end of a stage, you die
that way, score means something
e.g. let's say level 2 has 30,000 possible points if played perfectly. if you beat level 2 and didn't at least get 20,000 points, you'd explode, and have to start at the beginning of level 2 again
i don't even mean this in a joking way, on paper i think it'd be a good system, with a good balance between skill and survival. of course we'd have to see how it works out in practice to be sure of that
Funnily enough, within the shmups thread
Caruso linked, this idea was eventually brought up. Turns out your idea was done, to the letter, in Macross II
The problem with this idea is that, in the shmups realm, the scoring systems are pretty crazy. They're based on a lot of "fuzzy" systems like multipliers and stuff, which are often disjointed from survival/intuitive play. And occasionally, scoring oversights are even found (like in Cave's latest game, which features both a hyper-recharging exploit and an overflow bug!)
. This all means that a "perfect score" is usually significantly higher than what most people would achieve when playing for survival.
For example, playing the first level of Armed Police Batrider for shootin' game gets me around 320,000 points. Playing for score, I can usually net a good 700,000. However, the record score for that level is I think around 1.4M, which is a significant step up. So where do you set the bar? Macross II gets around this problem by having a very strict scoring system. However, this sorta takes away from the fun of scoring, which is the open-ended "unlimited possibilies" nature of the goal.