Friday, 19 October 2012
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure Review (DS)
Henry Hatsworth is not the sort of game you would associate with a company like Electronic Arts. Instead of fast cars and high production visuals we have a rather innovative and clever platform-puzzle-game-cross about a well-dressed gentleman looking for a magical golden hat. Henry also has to deal with his rival, Weasleby, who wants the hat for himself.
The innovation comes in the unique way that players must use both screens of the DS. Henry is controlled on the top screen in an enjoyable platform adventure, while at the same time on the bottom screen a simple puzzle game is in operation. It may sound complicated but everything is balanced well.
Any enemies dispatched on the top screen are sent to the bottom screen where they become coloured blocks or power ups. If the enemy blocks on the bottom screen are not dispatched they gradually make their way back to the top screen and attack Henry. While the bottom screen is always moving slowly up, when you actually switch to the puzzle game the top screen freezes. This means, unlike The World Ends With You, only one screen requires your full attention at any one time.
The platform aspect is enjoyable but is pretty standard fare. You move Henry around and dispatch enemies by hitting them with your walking stick or sword. You also have various different projectile weapons such as bombs and boomerangs which can be picked up and gain new powers as the game goes on.
Level design is not massively inspiring with five worlds similar to many other platform games over the years. There are certain exceptions such as levels based in the puzzle world which link the two different types of game cleverly. However, all the levels are executed well and with flair. A decent amount of varied enemies are on show, with problems to overcome. The only real drawback is that some boss fights go on for a little too long and occasionally players can fall foul of slightly spaced out checkpoints.
When it comes to the puzzle part of the game things are straight forward but effective. The aim of using the bottom screen is to match three or more of the same colour to make the blocks disappear. If the line of blocks contains enemies then they are permanently removed. Power up blocks can also be used to give benefits on the top screen such as giving back health of using lightning bolts to shock all the enemies on the screen.
Removing blocks on the bottom screen also fills up a power bar. The bar has two levels, when it is filled once it transforms Henry into his adventurer clothes which give him the use of a sword and extra health. If you manage to fill the bar up a second time you can transform him into an invincible tea powered robot. This is started by the animation of Henry sipping tea and is followed by the robot flying across a British flag.
As you continue through your adventure you pick up coins and gems which can be used to power up our hero. The benefits range from simply giving him more health and special moves to having the power meter fill by having him take or give damage. As you progress, the timing of using the different benefits of the power meter becomes paramount as it can be dangerous to be in the robot form in tight platforming areas or absolutely vital in others.
Overall, Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is a real surprise. The game has come from out of nowhere and is an accomplished title. The platform and puzzle elements mix really well and the game shows an attention to detail that demonstrates a fun and playful attitude from the development team. Gamestyle would be more than happy to see more of this ethos of fun, innovation and enjoyment in other releases. The only real reservation we have is that we can't see many people playing through it again after reaching the end. However, this is a whimsically wonderful adventure at a near budget price and is well worth a look.