Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
Remember those old Reese’s Cups commercials – the ones where two people would bang into each other, one guy eating peanut butter, the other eating chocolate? The two flavors would get mashed together, and the unsuspecting pedestrians would rejoice over the exciting, new taste sensation they’d discovered. That’s my anecdote to describe Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. It’s a blending of plaforming action and match-three puzzling that has come together to make for a fresh adventure sure to satisfy hardcore DS gamers.
I want to make one thing abundantly clear before getting into the nitty gritty: Hatsworth is hardcore. Though it’s colorful and cute, it’s a game that will kick your ass. So, if you were expecting a casual romp through a quaint and humdrum world, you might be knocked for a bit of a loop. The level of challenge, however, is mostly fair, and folks who can muster that extra bit of effort will be rewarded with a great time.
The game begins with a hilarious tale about a legendary hero who, with the aid of a magical, golden suit, conquered the world with his suaveness. Other, great leaders throughout the ages attempted to make use of the suit, but none were worthy, thus the suit became a myth. Hatsworth is interested in acquiring the golden suit solely for its monetary value, but upon discovering the first of its nine articles, he unleashes the Puzzle World.
With dangerous creatures now streaming in through the Puzzle World, Hatsworth must find the remaining suit pieces in order to close the portals to the real world. The first piece – the hat – fills Hatsworth with youthful vigor (and extra health), as well as giving him the ability to enter the Puzzle World (the bottom screen). Throughout the adventure, you’ll be running through platforming levels and defeating baddies, all whilst keeping track of the Puzzle World as it continues to rise up toward the real world. When you press the X button to enter the Puzzle World, real-world time stops, allowing you to match colored blocks and fight back evil.
If you were concerned you’d have to contend with both gameplay elements at once, fear not. For the most part, you’ll be going back and forth from adventure to puzzle, and the two forms fit wonderfully together. However, the Planet Puzzle League-esque Puzzle World continues to slowly rise toward the top screen, and if you’re not mindful of what’s going on down there, you may find monsters springing back up to take their revenge upon `ole Henry. Enemies you defeat in the real world are sent back to the Puzzle World, but if let loose, they can become especially troublesome.
In the adventure realm, you’ll move Hatsworth with the D-pad, jump with the B button, and attack with the Y button. You’ve also got special attacks and an alternate robot form, which you can climb into when your energy gauge is at maximum. In robot form, Hatsworth is pretty much invincible and does mass amounts of damage, though your energy continues to dwindle.
In the Puzzle World, the game plays very much like Planet Puzzle League or Tetris Attack. You’ll match colored blocks, which will then be converted into energy. However, you’ve got two different gauges: the Puzzle Meter and the Super Meter. Energy from the Super Meter allows Hatsworth to use special and ranged attacks and, as mentioned, eventually affords him the ability to change into robot form. The Puzzle Meter, however, gauges how long Hatsworth can remain inside the Puzzle World, and this meter is built up by attacking enemies in the real world, as well as matching blocks in the Puzzle World.
The Puzzle World opens up the opportunity for quite a bit of strategy, since you’ll find power-ups that can be matched with like-colored blocks to affect enemies in the real world, as well as acquire boosts and extra lives (hats) for Hatsworth. You’ve also got power-ups that temporarily stop time in the Puzzle World, or add extra energy to your Super Meter. There’s a lot happening on both screens, and the two elements come together with a great ebb and flow. You’ll often be forced to enter the Puzzle World mid-jump in order to match a set of blocks that will create a wall for you to jump off of in the real world, or you might want to simply build up your Super Meter so you can change into robot form during one of the game’s incredibly challenging boss fights.
Though the adventure portion is very entertaining, it can also become a tad repetitious, especially when you’re forced to redo long segments of a level. Checkpoints are extremely sparse, which is perhaps at the heart of what makes the game’s level of difficulty so steep. Combat is totally satisfying and the controls are spot-on, but using the same few attack moves over and over can wear thin after a while. Again, though, the Puzzle World really helps to break some of that up, and with new enemies, environmental obstacles and abilities thrown into the mix every so often, Hatsworth remains a really fun ride the whole way through.
Your young chum, Cole, will walk you through the basics at the beginning of the game, and being a precocious lad, he’ll constantly keep you updated on lore related to the suit and its abilities. Cole also serves as the game’s vendor, and you can use all that treasure you’ll find throughout the game to purchase upgrades to Hatsworth’s abilities. The game’s a bit skimpy with respect to the amount of money it gives you throughout the adventure, and ultimately, you’ll have to replay levels in order to make enough loot to afford the more expensive upgrades.
On the production front, The Puzzling Adventure is a tight and pleasant package. It’s all 2D, hand-drawn art that looks really pretty on DS. Everything animates fluidly, though you’ll see a lot of the same monsters throughout the early parts of the game. Environments, however, change up quite drastically, and in the long run, there’s actually quite a bit of variety here. The Puzzle World is cute, yet everything is strategically designed to make matching blocks a straightforward process.
The audio is also very entertaining, due in large part to the over-the-top, British garble that spews forth from the main characters during cut scenes. Everything is over-exaggerated, and the vibe of the game is utterly charming. The music, too, is simply delicious, though it’s sometimes sad to have to leave the Puzzle World when there’s a really cool, hard-rockin’ tune you want to finish listening to. When Hatsworth changes into his robot form, however – Tea Time, as it were – it’s a total riot. Heads start bangin’, as super-robot dude flies forth in all his British glory.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure may have seemed a puzzling combination of gameplay elements, but it came together with wonderful grace. It’s a fun and funny adventure that’s almost impossible to find fault with. Its greatest shortcoming, perhaps, is its level of challenge; this is simply not a game that can be enjoyed by all. That said, it’s still one heck of a “Good Show!”
Eight out of ten
- Fun, evolving combat system
- Great marriage of match puzzling and adventure
- Looks great, sounds great, and offers a very fun vibe
- The level of difficulty will, without doubt, deter a large segment of the gaming audience
- Some minor presentational issues
- Repetition eventually sets in, especially when forced to replay levels for extra money