Action Henk, a buff, sunglass-wearing hero, was the world’s fastest superhero and an idol who went on to become the world’s fastest action figure. Sadly for Action Henk the figurine, his glory days are long behind him, and the brief opening movie at the start of the game sees him reminiscing in front of the TV, rotund belly protruding from his vest, sat atop a shelf in a toy filled bedroom.
However, it’s not long before our hero has to get going – literally – as the despicable ne’er-do-well Kentony purloins Henk’s prized Toy Of The Year award, and he has to get back in action in an effort to not only show he’s still got it, but to regain his prized possession.
Action Henk currently features in the PlayStation Plus Vote to Play scheme, going up against Broforce and Assault Android Cactus. Depending on how you’ve all voted – it started last Tuesday, so many votes will already have been cast – it will come out of the other end either as part of the Instant Game Collection for March, or with a launch discount. But the big question, of course, is does Action Henk deserve your vote?
Your role in this quest for reclaimed glory is to lead Henk through a variety of speed-running courses, attempting to beat the tight time requirements while facing the odd challenge from other toys. Anyone that’s played games like Trials will immediately understand the draw of the physics-based gameplay, and that same hook of scraping one more tenth of a second from your record is fully present and correct here.
As with the best of these types of games, the controls are simple, but making the most of them is certainly not. You control Henk’s direction with the left analogue stick, jump with Cross, and butt-slide with L2, and at the outset that’s it. However, the nuances of that set-up immediately affect how swiftly you make it through a level, from tapping Cross or holding it down to manage the height of your jump, and of course knowing when the best time to slide on your butt is – which is a useful thing to know generally.
You’ll be restarting each level a number of times if you have any hope of earning the highest medals, so it’s a good thing that you have a pair of face buttons that will instantly drop you back to the beginning of the course, or to the last checkpoint. Using any checkpoints is best suited for learning the courses, as the various time challenges for each medal are tough from the very beginning.
Henk does gain more abilities over time, with things like a hookshot, which will suddenly have you swing around, while trying your best to nail a smooth landing, before continuing straight into a butt-slide followed by wall-jumping. It’s at this point that things really begin to click, and you discover the rhythm of Action Henk as you strive to be the best.
You’ll be able to see if you’re the best very easily, with the game boasting global leaderboards, alongside ones for your friends list as well, and the thrill of knowing you’re third in the world can only spur you on to be at the top. Of course, it’s a little easier to be third in the world during the game’s preview period, but I’m taking it and you can’t stop me. Yet.
Such online boasting probably pales in comparison to local multiplayer, and the thrill of giving your friends a lesson in butt-sliding in person, and luckily Action Henk allows exactly that, with up to four players battling it out to be Toy Of The Year, across a range of levels.
Your opening location certainly feels like the right spot for a toy showdown, marrying the look of Pixar’s Toy Story with Signal Studio’s Toy Soldiers franchise, and the hastily constructed courses of wooden blocks and plastic tracks look perfect, while the cheery music drives you on.
Though the courses become more elaborate, and you unlock different locations., the ultimate set-up remains the same, and it all comes down to the strength of the tight controls and the pull of being the fastest toy alive. As Henk repeatedly says “Gotta be the best!”, and so far at least, it feels like you’ll want to be.