Rick Henderson comes to consoles as another in a long line of indie-designed shoot-’em-ups. It’s a retro genre that frequently given a modern lick of paint. Rick Henderson however, digs deep into the retro stylings and offers only a little inventiveness. As you’ll discover in this Rick Henderson review, it’s a game that will appeal to the genre’s biggest fans, but there are plenty of alternative out there.
The game features two gameplay modes. Endless Mode (standard and hard) are, as you might expect, a never-ending series of levels. Boss Raid Mode is a string of boss fights. Pretty simple. As is the gameplay. Rick Henderson is a straight-forward old school shoot-’em-up. There’s a couple of interesting mechanics, but nothing that’s going to rock your world.
Firstly, each ship has three shooting modes. Bullets, energy weapons and rockets. Enemies can be armoured, shielded or unarmoured, and each ammo type has a greater or lesser affect on a respective armour type. It’s an interesting mechanic that will see the player quickly switching ammo type as they encounter different enemies, though in truth it doesn’t really have much of a baring on the game for the first few levels.
The Graze counter is another new mechanic, and actually quite an interesting one. As bullets fly past you, close but without making contact, your Graze counter will increase. Upon hitting 10 your AI teammates will join you on the battlefield and help take on the enemy. It’s genuinely a thrill to see them join the fight against a difficult boss. However, it does seem that the requirements for adding a Graze to your counter are somewhat unreliable. You can go entire levels without adding a single check, despite closely dodging enemy fire numerous times.
Outside of this, many familiar shoot-’em-up conventions make their way into Rick Henderson. Upon taking damager a shield generates for a few seconds, which can be used to hurt enemies. Each of the three playable ships has a unique ability, and a scoring system brings in a multiplayer for successive kills without being hit. As you complete each level you’re able to get a power-up that can help in one of many ways, and new weapons can be acquired by killing transport vehicles. It’s a pretty by-the-numbers affair.
If you hadn’t worked it out just yet, this Rick Henderson review is pretty comfortable with the fact that the game is a solid, playable experience. At the same time, it’s an experience that you’ll almost certainly have already had. Rick Henderson doesn’t innovate like Sine Mora. It’s not as fun as Z-Warp. It’s not deep as Habroxia 2. Rick Henderson is, simply, a well rounded shoot-’em-up. Nothing more, nothing less.