Action Henk: The Review
Multiplayer Running Mayhem that may actually make you sweat!
Have you ever wondered about what your action figures do all day when your not there? Well even if you haven’t, the action heroes at RageSquid have made a game to answer just that: THEY RACE! The action-figure form of Henk’s arch nemesis “Dr. Kentony”, has stolen Henk’s “Toy of the Year” trophy, and Henk will stop at nothing until he gets it back. Players control Action Henk as he runs, jumps, butt-slides, and hook-shots at speeds that shouldn’t be “plastic”-ally possible.
With the increasing popularity of runner games like Bit. Trip Runner and Jetpack Joyride over the past 5 years, there has been countless new entries into the genre. Many runner games fall short with challenge-less gameplay and lack of content, relying solely on theme to entice. This is not the case with Action Henk. Action Henk blasts through the monotony, delivering hard challenges and smart mechanics.
Starting the game I was immediately tempted to try out Multiplayer mode, but unfortunately after a quick scan of the house, I found that I was home alone. Selecting solo mode, I began my adventure. Players are presented with a series of obstacle course races, all starting left to right. Like most games, early stages are set up to help introduce Henk’s running mechanics: butt-slide down slopes (L1 or L2), run up hills, jump across gaps (X), and hook-shot swing over gaps (R1). Sounds easy? Not quite. Timing is everything. A long hold of “X” may give you extra jump height, but hold too long and you’ll lose valuable speed. Butt-sliding downhill grants you a speed boost, but slide for too long onto level ground and you’ll lose that boost.
Action Henk makes learning to efficiently use your character fun and easy, with an excellent restart system. Placed throughout each course are various checkpoints. If a player falls off the tract or would simply like to retry a stretch of course, pressing “Triangle” will INSTANTLY teleport your character back to the last checkpoint. If you feel the need to retry the entire stage, simply pressing “O” INSTANTLY restarts the stage. I found myself restarting stages over and over again to practice perfectly timed maneuvers and potential shortcuts. Completing races under specific time benchmarks awards the player with Medals: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Rainbow.
Achieving a Rainbow medal is no easy task, but Action Henk provides a really useful training tool: the ghost runner. Lets say there is a level you just can’t seem to achieve a gold medal in; if you select the gold medal ghost runner, a semi-transparent gold model of a random character will run alongside your character performing jumps and slides that if mimicked will reward the you with the gold medal. This is amazingly useful! Instead of settling for a bronze medals on new courses, I began selecting the gold ghost runner and going for gold. Even if you miraculously achieve a rainbow medal, the ghost runner can be set to mimic your best time, successfully compelling players to best themselves.
It is important to try and collect as many medals as possible. New stages are unlocked by acquiring a certain amount of medals and by completing challenge courses. The last course in a stage is always a challenge course. As oppose to racing the clock, challenge stages pit you head to head against the computer. Once completed, challenge courses unlock a new character or new character skin like this awesome Xena: Warrior Princess skin for Betsy:
Action Henk makes me feel like a kid again with its playful childhood aesthetic. Beginning levels take place in a child’s bedroom full of toys and various posters. In fact, I found myself spending a lot of time stopping my character to browse the background and laugh at easter eggs like: a “Henk the Hedgehog” poster, a Jaws poster comically titled “Boned” instead, several Rubik's cubes, or an mountain shaped to look like a Donkey Kong mountain but with Henk’s face.
Using wooden blocks and plastic ramps, courses are made to look like crazy Hot Wheels tracks you could only dream of making as a kid. RageSquid even goes as far as making one of my favorite childhood games a mechanic: HOT LAVA MONSTER! Falling into the lava for the first time granted me with a hilarious trophy, and a pair of burnt underwear.
In later stages, players will find themselves sliding down color changing tracks to a funky disco beats, looping over tentacles flaying out of lava while spooky jack-o-lanterns fly overhead, and wall jumping over beaches of sand to tropical island tunes. The graphics are clean whether using vibrant disco ball displays, or beautifully designed tropical trees. My only real complaint is the music is very repetitive, with each song being nothing but short musical phrases looped over and over again.
A beautiful thing happened in my time with Action Henk. Upon returning from grabbing a $5.00 foot-long for lunch, I walked into my room to find it full of laughter. Apparently my wife and roommates had returned from work to find Action Henk still running on my TV, and decided to tackle multiplayer.
They were loving it, shouting “WOAH” when someone pulled of an awesome move or “DAMN” if they fell into the lava. It was obvious right off the bat that there were different skill levels between them, but one great feature in multiplayer allows dead players to jump back in the race at the next checkpoint. This kept the fun rolling, instead of leaving other players in losing ruts. Action Henk is clearly a game meant for fun, while still providing a challenge for the most seasoned runner gamer.
Thank you for reading. Nolan — Totaltoad
Action Henk gets a 9/10 (Superb)
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