Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Good Times: Henry Hatsworth & The Puzzling Adventure

Today I had a bit of a personal breakthrough. I was feeling as though I had just become a completely negative bastard who could find no enjoyment in any games. Today I realised that this may have been because I adored Fallout 3 so much. Not that I consciously compared every game to Bethesda's masterwork, it was more that nothing could give me that much enjoyment. Fable 2 tried and failed miserably, Street Fighter 4 is a wonderful distraction but lacks the immersion I require and Resident Evil 5 is just a bit too disappointing for me. This happens to me every spring it seems, as if somehow I anticipate the onset of the dreaded 'summer lull'. Last year, I retreated to my ever-plucky DS, this year, I have done the same and in doing so, have discovered Herny Hatsworth and his delightfully Puzzling Adventure.
Henry is some sort of turn of the century toff explorer who goes looking for a fabled golden suit, once worn by the legendary 'Gentleman'. Only a particular brand of chap can inhabit this suit and dear old Henry considers himself worthy enough to justify embarking on the aforementioned puzzling adventure.

Henry is adorable with his Rare-inspired jumbled toff language and monocle. His simple one-button combat arsenal and pop gun makes him a joy to control as you adventure with him through dark jungle ruins and graveyards to name but a few of the charmingly rendered locations. The presentation is endearing enough to hold my interest so far, but in an unusual turn for myself, this game captivates me not with it's style, but it's substance.

Henry Hatsworth is essentially, two games in one. On the top screen you have a fairly straightforward action platformer replete with boss battles, collectibles and power ups. What makes all of these elements far more interesting is what takes place on the bottom screen. Below the combat you will find a block-sliding puzzle game that could quite easily be just another Columns/Puyo-Puyo/Tetris knock-off if it wasn't so well integrated into the platformer. Defeated enemies re-appear as puzzle blocks and power ups that must be finished off by combining them into chains of three. The blocks move up the bottom screen, towards the top with uncleared enemy blocks threatening to re-appear by poking their heads over the bottom edge of the top screen. This is a delightfully cute touch that encourages you to shift your attention to the other half of your game (done by pushing the Y button). This pauses the action in the top screen, making sure that you don't take any damage from oncoming enemies.

You have two power gauges to manage; the first dictates the time you can spend in the puzzle mode and is refilled by defeating enemies. The other makes you more powerful and when full, will give you 'Tea Time' which sees Henry getting a super-powered steampunk mecha suit that causes havoc on the top screen. This is refilled by clearing puzzle blocks and forming chains.

I like cups of tea, I like steampunk mecha Suits, I like toff adventurers and I love the way that this game wonderfully blends two genres together to breath new life into both. This game is getting me through a rough patch on my gaming road so I urge all of you DS owners to check it out. Switching between the two game styles becomes a skill in itself as the difficulty accelerates, seeing you switch into the puzzle mode at the end of some brilliantly executed combos and when done right will make you feel like some sort of God. Henry, I take my Hat(sworth) off to you. *heh*

The Faux Bot

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