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 Post subject: Rick Henderson (XB1 - X|S - PS4|5 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2022 9:11 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 593
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Time to hit the shmup scene with Rick Henderson.

To begin with, the game features three modes: Standard Endless Mode, Hard Endless Mode and Boss Raid Mode. But before you start your mission, you'll have to make a choice.


That choice is to select which ship you want to use. The eponymous Rick Henderson is the balanced type character with a fair amount of shield and speed that summons a holographic projection of his ship as a bullet decoy, Ben is the Speed Type with few energy and high speed and uses a dashing move to dodge bullets instead of an attack kinda like the Zero Teleport from Alien Soldier, and finally Thoraxx is the slow but strong character that has a functional "offensive" special attack that pelts the screen with bullets pretty much like the F-14's "Tomahawk" bomb in Aero Fighters. Whoever you select, their starting weaponry is the same: Pulse Gun (Bullet), Turboblaster (Energy) and Fire Flash (Missile).

Prepare to be challenged everytime in this game.

Regardless of the difficulty selected, Endless is the main game and like such it loops after completing six stages. The core gameplay is basically a clone of Steredenn/Steredenn Binary Stars as it throws the randomization thing to the whole game. Every single mission is unique from the previous one, from enemy formation and even weapon drop from Transports granting an unique experience every single playthrough. But the main feature of this game is the bullet grazing pretty much like Risk System and Psyvariar, and with bullet hell elements being involved in this game this might sound interesting and fun at the same time. But guess what? Is not like you've expected. To begin with, the grazing mechanism is very unclear at the point that you'll be taking damage more often than increasing your score multiplier and taking a single hit drops your hard earned multipliers to x1.00. Believe it or not, every single bullet or enemy destroyed adds a .01 to the multiplier, making the score multiplying feature dull and unfun. When I said "Taking more damage" is because the hitbox is the whole ship sprite. In a bullet buzzing/grazing game you have a small hitbox for damage/death and the "tolerance" space for bullet grazing. Risk System got that right, Raiden Fighters and Raiden III did. The ship's speed is quite sluggish even on Rick Henderson's ship and this and sometimes this could be fatal for the gameplay. Weapon dropping is also very uncommon in the game, and most of the times they give you a weapon that causes you more troubles than helping you. A great example is the "Razor", a thin red laser that recoils your ship back in random directions. Sometimes it will bounce you up or down, and the "Sprayer", which is the spreashot weapon with the annoying flaw of pushing you back as you fire. And don't get me started with the Hawkeye, the "Aim and shoot" weapon of the game that leaves you vulnerable as you have to time the single shot. With the exception of the Valkyrie (fast pass-through "Energy" bullets), the Needler (an Auto-aim "Energy" laser) and the "Waver" missile, the majority of the weapons are useless at the point that you'll be much better with the default weapons they send you.

Time for a "Head-to-Head" battle.

Back to the fun aspects of the game, along with the bullet grazing and random elements, you are given a "Graze" attack gauge that will summon your partners as support fire for a while and as shields since they can absorb the enemy bullets. While the Graze attack can be recharged as much as you want, the bar will be depleted entirely if you take a hit and there's no "manual activation" as it is triggered automatically as soon as the gauge is full. You can get rank promotions by picking Ranking items dropped by enemies and defeated bosses. Once you've collect all six of them you'll be ascended in rank. It was very interesting the idea of giving the bosses unique attack patterns that make them more unpredictable, forcing you to pass from an offensive strategy to a more defensive one. While you are not granted extra lives or health recovery items, you have a very generous amount of hit points for the three ships, and you are also given an invencibility moment after each hit, making the game even more playable (100% free of Turridamage). According to the tutorial, weapon types are meant for specific enemies, like the Energy weapons as Anti-shield weaponry, but weak with enemies or using the missile as the power weapon.

Only one choice...

After defeating a boss, the boss will drop four Perks that will grant you randomly selected skills, but you are only allowed to pick one following the same predicament as Steredenn. The more convenient are the 10% of damage to enemies with any weapon, especially the "Bullet" and "Missile" types and the best part is that you can pick them again if they appear a second time, adding even more power to the ship's weapons. The game has also the courtesy of refilling your health after picking a perk.

Redefines the quote "It's alright, dancing in the Laser Light".

Every once in a while you'll be facing "Events", which are unique objectives that will add bonus points and they're also part of the achievement progression. The first one is "Asteroids" which will require you to fly through an enemy-less asteroid field without crashing (like the second stage of Assault Suits Valken/Cybernator), "Laser Barrage" will throw laser beams throughout the stage like in the level "Disorder" from Natsuki Chronicles. Then we have the "Meteor Storm" which is adds diagonal raining meteors throughout the stage, and finally the "Minefield" where destructible mines are scattered across the area. You'll notice that an event was triggered when the upper part of the screen has a message like "LASER BARRAGE - SCORE x2". The "Asteroids" and the Laser Barrage are the most common by far, while the Meteor Storm and Minefield are rare, even with the Jinxed perk to trigger them more often.

Due to its roguelite nature, the game only grants you one life (but generous amounts of HP to make some good progress), after that it's Game Over and you have to start all over. Picking "RESTART" (obviously) sends you back to level 1, but with the character you've selected. If you want to change characters you have to go back to the Main Menu by choosing "MAIN MENU", but one word of advice: If you select "MAIN MENU" after dying, you've better not press any button or move anything until the background begins to move. If you play with the pad or buttons there's a chance that the game doesn't respond when you're in the menu. You'll hear the cursor move/confirmation sound, but there's no response from the game. You're permastuck until you close the game, open it, watch the EastAsiaSoft and Fatpug Studio logos, then press any button on the title and you're back to the menu. Looks like someone at Fatpug Studio has some bugfixes to check.

Boss Raid Mode pits you in combat against the games bosses. On this mode, the game will remove the multiplier and looks like the objective is to complete the battles in the fastest time possible. Once again, that depends on the weapon and the perks the game wants to give you.

Stunning pixel-art backgrounds!

When it comes to the graphics, looks like Fatpug Studio took lessons from Steredenn as it gives us an incredible universe with bright, vibrant colors despite being based on outer space the whole time. There's some instances of surrealism like a skull shaped nebula in one of the stages, making the whole thing not just retro, but also artistic as well. The music is a combination of synth-wave with modern electronic elements which brings a good approach on being retro-esque kinda like Black Paradox did. Unlike the common "each stage has its theme", this game plays more like a music playlist. Once a song ends, the next one enters.

- The weapon name "Metal Storm" is a reference to many things, but in gaming is known as the mecha platformer from IREM and Kohful's sub-weapon in Aero Fighters.

Ah, no big deal.
Just the usual Gamerscore Milker.

In the end, Rick Henderson is a shmuper that fails on its main feature, but it has some interesting graphics and music that are worth watching and hear. My recommendation is to pick it and play it until you get all the achievements/trophies. Uninstall it or not is just up to you to decide.

Not convinced, yet not disappointed.
The scale is on a stalemate this time.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup and video game reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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