Physics-based 2D time trials are a great way to test your gaming skills. This new addition to the genre may not improve upon the familiar formula much, so let's see how it lives up to modern classics such as Trials.
When Trials first debuted, it was immediately praised due to its simple and addictive gameplay. At every failed attempt, any player would be compelled to give it another go. In 2010, a similar yet more cartoonish game called Joe Danger came out that made crashing harder to do and featured multi-track stage layouts. It was initially criticized for being too much like Trials, but it set itself apart enough to make it a unique experience. Now, we have Action Henk. Although this fellow doesn't ride a vehicle, it follows the same formula established in the previously mentioned series. You control him by running, jumping, butt-sliding down slopes to gain speed, and even using a grappling hook in some stages. The physics-based gameplay is generally well done with a few twists that keep it feeling somewhat fresh throughout such as spring boards and speed belts.
The cast of Action Henk is made up of action figures that are quite ugly. Ironically, this adds a lot of charm to the presentation. One aspect of the visuals that's very well done is the environments. The first five areas take place in a toy room yet the developers did an awesome job of implementing various themes such as disco and Halloween. The later areas put Henk outside in locations such as tropical island docks and a colourful beach. The level of detail is impressive with layers of background objects and loads of references to films and other games (like Ibb and Obb). The music is over-the-top with energetic beats that match the prominent sound effects and general sense of craziness perfectly. In the end, it all adds up to one zany adventure.
The campaign consists of over sixty stages which seems like a lot but most of them can be finished in under half a minute. Therefore, it's far from a lengthy game. That being said, you'll likely try the majority of them over and over again because earning gold medals (and the elusive rainbow ones) can be excruciatingly difficult. As you progress, you'll uncover a race at the end of each area. Defeating your opponent unlocks them as a playable character but there aren't many because most are identical folks in different costumes. Don't get me wrong; it's fun to unlock stuff, especially when you discover hidden coin collecting challenges and other nifty content. On top of all this, you can compete against your pals in local matches for up to four players.
As I've already mentioned, the campaign is quite short. Similar games may have just as many stages but the ones here go by much too quickly. I definitely would have liked to see at least twice as many of them. Also, the later stages are ridiculously difficult. I know that games like Trials are notorious for insane challenges but the tough situations here can get complex to the point where merely knowing what to do becomes a tricky endeavor. For example, not being able to see past large gaps in the tracks can result in you falling to your demise or taking a wrong path that leads back to a previously visited spot. Simply put; it's super-frustrating. My last significant issue is that the gameplay isn't enough to keep the average gamer engaged throughout. In fact, I find it to be downright stale at times. Why couldn't they add more features like vehicles? Instead, you just run, jump, slide, and occasionally swing which gets boring fast.
Action Henk is an enjoyable little experience but it doesn't live up to the games that it clearly draws inspiration from. The only gamers that I can recommend it to are those who just can't get enough of the genre.
- + Fun physics-based gameplay with a few twists that keep things somewhat interesting
- + Great looking environments
- + Nifty extras and unlockables
- - Difficulty ramps up way too much in the complexly laid out later stages
- - Gameplay is mostly flat and uninspired
- - Not enough stages in the campaign