by Blackened Beans
reviewed on NDS
Cheerio! A Novel Idea!
While the DS has no shortage of platformers, it does lack creative platformers: games that try new things and succeed brilliantly. Sure, hopping from platform to platform is fun for a while, but the formula is no longer fresh enough to sustain a full game. And that's what Henry Hatsworth is here for. It combines two unlikely genres seamlessly into one game. If you're a fan of the original Mario games, Tetris or Castlevania then you'll pick up the gameplay almost immediately. It uses standard controls, and Henry has some pretty standard moves, but there are so many creative ideas thrown into the mix that it feels like an entirely new game, despite the fact that it's really just a combination of two well-established genres that we've seen done time and time again.
Henry Hatsworth is a game that practically oozes nostalgia. From its 2D platforming goodness to its Tetris-esque puzzles, Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is one of those games that you really have to play to understand. The concept is relatively simple, but until you get hands-on with the game you likely won't be able to comprehend just how well this unusual formula has been executed. The main game takes place on the top screen, where you control Henry as you run about, hopping on platforms and besting baddies. Meanwhile, the bottom screen fills with blocks that you can destroy for powerups. It can be a little hectic is situations where tons of enemies are popping up on-screen or you're in the middle of a difficult platforming sequence, but the two, entirely different gameplay mechanics actually mesh quite well together, and the result is one of the most fun and original DS platformers to date.
Fancy a Spot of Creative?
Naturally, you play as Henry Hatsworth, and your goal is to find the golden suit that only the most handsome and spiffy gentleman can wear, so that you may control the “Puzzle Realm” and obtain plenty of valuable goods. But of course, nothing is ever that simple. Henry finds a golden hat that opens up the Puzzle Realm, which is shown on the bottom screen and is basically a Tetris-style block matching game. Meanwhile, Leopold Charles Anthony Weasleby (the Third) is trying to obtain the golden suit pieces so that he can control the puzzle realm. He does this by hiring henchmen to do his dirty work. These include the lady's man, Lance Banson, who uses the power of song to fight, the Captain, who is an old man in a wheel chair being pushed around by a behemoth nurse, and a whole load of others that will all result in some really fun boss fights.
The storyline is a relatively simple one, but it's helped by all the cute and hilarious characters you'll meet along the way, as well as plenty of laugh out loud humor and interesting environments. You'll travel through lush jungles, underwater temples and fiery dungeons as you progress through the game's lengthy storyline, and the pacing is good enough that you never get bored of one location. Sure, you'll spend a lot of time in each environment, but each level on its own is relatively short, and there's enough variety in their designs to keep things interesting. Of course, there is a rather large difficulty spike in later levels that increases the length of the game, and as the check points are spaced quite far from each other, many of the scenes more frustrating than they should be.
Tetris and Buttered Crumpets
The design, as mentioned, is a combination of Mario-style platforming and Tetris-like block matching. It's a pretty risky design choice, but it's been done extremely well here. You'll rarely feel like you have to juggle between the two screens like mad, and the Stylus is hardly ever needed (you can generally use your finger instead). When you kill an enemy in the real world it moves to the bottom screen, where you have to match it with two other blocks of the same color to destroy it, or it will come back and attack you. In addition to enemies, there are also powerups, such as extra lives and health. Destroying blocks gives you energy which you can use to fire your blunderbuss, but if you save it and let it fill to the top, you can tap the screen to transform into a giant robot suit which is invincible and can take out virtually any enemy with ease.
Spit and Polish, How Dandy!
The graphics in Henry Hatsworth are extremely cute, with enemies that look like they were pulled straight out of a children's cartoon and character designs that are original and likable. The environments are mostly things you've seen before, but they're designed well enough that it's forgivable. The sprite work isn't the most impressive you've seen, but it's serviceable. There aren't too many animations in characters and they can occasionally feel lacking detail, but the characters are still extremely cute, and the cartoon characters shown during cutscenes have plenty of goofy facial expressions.
Hatsworth's sound is reminiscent of an old Nintendo 64 game, with silly character grunts and mumblings replacing voice acting. The sound effects are all exaggerated and spot on, and the sound of your sword swinging and hitting in particular is quite satisfying. The music changes from time to time and always fits with the level, while the hectic puzzle music playing in the background while you're mixing and matching fits the puzzle theme nicely.
This puzzling adventure is fun, creative and nostalgic, and anyone who's interested in platformers or puzzle games will be glad to know that both of these aspects are done extremely well in this game. Hardcore gamers will enjoy the steep difficulty in the later levels, and even the more casual gamers will eventually be able to just power through it, so there's something for everyone. The story is a great length for a platformer, and there are tons of upgrades for Henry and his weapons that make it worth searching for treasure. Like all good platformers, Henry Hatsworth has some excellent level designs and great boss fights, while also offering plenty of cool powerups and hectic enemy attacks that make the puzzle element just as satisfying, and just as fun.
No Pros and Cons at this time