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Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure

 

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: Platformer, Puzzle
 
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Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA

As I sit back to write this review I have been asking myself whether or not Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is the best game I have played on the DS to date. Well, if it is not the best game I have played on Nintendo’s handheld machine it is certainly the most fun I have had in quite some time. Being a fan of puzzlers and platformers, Henry Hatsworth is truly the best of both worlds. Not only is it an enjoyable platformer but the puzzle aspect of the game is fantastic. Developed by EA Tiburon, Henry Hatsworth arrived with little fanfare, which is not uncommon for DS games. Any hype the game has received this far is well deserved. So why should you spend your hard earned money on Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure for DS? Read on.

Graphics

Henry Hatsworth is a wonderfully presented game and visually the game scores top marks. The game has an old school feel to it and looks as if you are in a Super Mario world-like environment. It is presented in 2D and looks very good as the colours are bright and vibrant. The game will remind of you of many of other NES and DS games you may have played over the years but its overall execution and graphical design is bang-on.

For starters, our main hero, the old quirky British treasure hunter Harry Hatsworth, looks very good on the tiny DS screen. In fact, all the characters and enemies have a clean and slick look about them. I have no major complaints when it comes to the games characters and enemies. The level design is also very pleasing as there is plenty of eye candy present on all the levels. I especially liked how the screen fades a tad when you switch from the bottom screen to the top and vice-a-versa. I will explain more of this below. Bottomline, your focus is where it should be at all times. In addition to the charming looking characters and level design, the game does a nice job with the cut-scenes which feature nice looking and cleanly presented picture stills. All in all, Henry Hatsworth is a good looking DS game.

Sound

Overall the audio in Henry Hatsworth is pretty good but you do have to keep your expectations to a minimum considering the limitations of the hardware. There is no voice work, instead Henry and the other characters speak gibberish as scrolling dialogue appears at the bottom of the screen. It would have been nice to hear some voices but alas you get none in the game. The gibberish is humorous at first but does get old in a hurry.

The musical soundtrack is about what I expected and sounds remarkably similar to the many Mario-esque games already on the market. The music is dynamic and amps us as the action becomes more intense. It is repetitive but catchy nonetheless. All other in-game sound effects are typical of similar games but it does work. In the end I would say the whole audio package is solid enough, but there was still some room for improvement.

Gameplay

Before I get into some of the gameplay aspects I absolutely loved, let me give you some background information in terms of the games storyline. Henry Hatsworth, our quirky British hero, is on a mission to find the lost pieces of the Gentleman's Suit. The suit is special armour that allows you to control a world known as the Puzzle Realm. Control this world and you will fall into valuable treasures inside this world. Henry begins his journey deep in the jungle where he stumbles upon a legendary hat. This hat causes imbalance as it is cursed. Undeterred by the curse, Henry continues on his journey to collect the pieces of the suit and stop the curse. Unfortunately, Henry isn’t the only adventurer searching for lost treasures. Henry’s rival, Weasleby, will stop at nothing to prove he is a better adventurer than Henry. And so the game begins as we follow Henry on his pursuit battling monsters, jumping cliffs, scaling walls, and eliminating enemies in the Puzzle Realm.

As I mentioned at the top, Henry Hatsworth is not only a platformer but also a puzzler. On the top screen we have the platformer game where Henry moves from point A to point B battling monsters and making death defying leaps. On the bottom we have a Tetris like puzzle game. Using the stylus pen, which I preferred, or the DS button pad, you attempt to align a chain of three or more blocks of the same color. Align the blocks in the set of three and they disappear and any blocks which sit on top of the cleared ones will fall into their place just as they do in any Tetris type game. You can trigger all sorts of chain reactions if you align the right blocks.

So how do the two games (platformer and puzzler) relate to one another? As Henry embarks on his journey he runs into many enemies which he has no problem defeating. But the work is not done yet. Once Henry defeats the enemies they are sent to the bottom screen as puzzle blocks. As the blocks on the puzzle screen rise, the blocks that touch the upper edge of the screen are revived as enemies once again. So the game forces you to switch back and forth from the top screen to the bottom screen as you attempt to clear out the enemies that have been sent to the Puzzle Realm. Clearing out the enemies below is accomplished by swapping blocks to form the same groups of three or more, resulting in them being destroyed. Destroying the enemies adds energy to your “Super Meter”. This Super Meter is displayed on the bottom right screen and shows Henry’s primary energy and his weapon/ammo capability. Keep this meter filled and you can unleash all sorts of damage to the enemies. But it does not end there as Henry Hatsworth has so many cool and addictive elements to the game which coming back for more.

Another cool feature about the Puzzle Realm is the fact that certain combinations allow you to restore Henry’s hearts (e.g. his health meter). So if the action becomes a little too intense up top and Henry is taking a beating, simply hit the X button to go to the bottom screen where you can work to get combinations and restore his health. Additionally, keeping the Super Meter filled keeps Henry younger, and his health also increases. If the meter is filled to double its capacity you can activate a mode called "Tea Time". This causes a giant mech-like machine to appear which Henry pilots. While in this machine, Henry is invincible and becomes a power house destroying anything in his path. When the playing surface is flat, the machine is easy to use and it is quite a blast to play. Unfortunately there are occasions where you activate “Tea Time” and the machine appears in an area where you cannot proceed due to the layout of the level which may feature small areas that only Henry can proceed along. These times can be frustrating but fortunately the game allows you to deactivate the mech and proceed as normal.

The game also features a unique upgrade system. As you defeat enemies and collect treasures in the game, you earn money. After you complete a level, you can go into Henry’s Assistants’ shop where you can buy various upgrades. Upgrades include such things as an extra heart, the ability to upgrade your melee attack or upgrade your power meter, to name a few. It is a cool little upgrade system which gives the game plenty of replay value.

The controls in Henry Hatsworth are very easy to pick-up and the game contains several tips on how to perform the moves. In fact, the first level shows you a detailed tutorial of how to play in the Puzzle Realm. Although the Puzzle Realm is still a little too difficult for my 6-year old daughter, the platforming aspects of the game are very easy for her to control and navigate.

The save system is my only major complaint with the game. The checkpoints are few and far between. As a result, when you die you do have to go back quite far and work toward the point where were met your demise. It is not a major deficiency but more of a small annoyance especially in those instances where you die in the same location more than once.


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