Toys in Games, Games as Toys, and Action Henk as Both, with Roel Ezendam


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ETAO Podcast, Episode 20.
Action Henk is out (of Steam Early Access) today, and to celebrate, here’s my conversation with Roel Ezendam of RageSquid Games.

Action Henk is a game about momentum, perfectionism, and making things that actually are as amazing as we remember things being in our childhoods—not just recapturing former glory, but surpassing it. Or to put it another way, Action Henk is the game that we all expect Sonic the Hedgehog to be, but that it never quite is. Or it’s Sonic by way of Trials, maybe.
Roel is the kind of guy who gets deep into the nerdery of in-game physics (albeit mostly in Dutch rather than English), and who talks consummately and lucidly about the hard science behind that most squishily of goals, making it feel good to control a character. (For Roel, this comes down to thinking of the player-character as a “toy” within the game, compelling even without gameplay context).

It’s such a tough thing to pin down, and yet it’s what puts Action Henk a cut above—and for that matter, it’s the main thing that separates Super Mario World from Shaq-Fu. Powerful stuff, then.

• Here’s that thing Ben Kuchera said about Spelunky. That quote was on my mind because Gabe Durham used it in his work on Bible Adventures for Boss Fight Books (which he also runs, and which is quite worth checking out).

• I haven’t written about Lethal League (yet), but it and Gang Beasts do both come highly recommended.

“All The People Say” by Carpe Demon.
“Henk’s Theme” from the Action Henk original soundtrack, by Wiklund.

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