It's a lot harder now to break the 10k mark. (But I done it - eventually...)
If you play perfectly (without dying) I believe that you should clear 10k points on Level 7.
I have had the experience a couple of times lately where the brand new ship gets killed before I can even start - i.e. the 'repulse' effect doesnt work - this is hard when it's your last
man ship - could that be because I dont have the mouse button fully pressed (dont think so but I'm not sure).
This is an intended feature of the game. It's a bit unfun to experience as a player, but it adds a little bit of "luck" factor in there. The "repulse effect" (as you call it) greatly reduces the chance of this happening, but it does still happen sometimes.
It happens when the asteroids are too close to the new ship when it first appears, there is then no replulse effect -- ship dead before it can even get going.
It should be noted that the repulse effect still happens (and you'll probably notice the asteroid start to spin wildly due to it), it's just that due to the proximity of the asteroid, it's not able to effectively push it away and the ship respawns in the same location that the asteroid is currently occupying.
On another note - I'm curious how the scoring works:
one time I got to level #9 with only 6.5k points - my highest score is over 12k - but only at level #8 (?)
Points are awarded based on three factors:
1. What size of an asteroid is destroyed.
2. What level you're on.
3. How many extra lives you have.
The reasons for this are:
1. The smaller asteroids are harder to hit, so they give more points than the larger ones.
2. The further you progress in the game, the more you're rewarded.
3. The better you play the game (i.e. the less you die), the more you're rewarded.
So in your case where you got to level 9 with only 6.5k, you probably died a couple of times in the first few levels, greatly reducing your score. When you got over 12k on level 8, you probably played a nearly perfect (no deaths) game up until level 7 or 8.
I think I've mentioned it before in this thread, but if you play a perfect game, you should reach just over 7k points when you start level 7.