Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure DS
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Electronic Arts
In Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure you'll play as the titular Henry and at the beginning of the game he's about to set off for the jungle to look for the legendary golden hat. Henry isn't deterred by the rumour that the hat is cursed. As it turns out, the hat is cursed but it's just one part of a golden suit that's required to enter a magical world that's filled with gold and gems. On finding the hat, Henry puts it on only for it to lose its golden colour and look like a normal bowler hat. The hat also makes him look younger for a time. Not that Henry notices that however because only seconds after putting on the hat the tomb he's exploring begins to break up and he comes under attack from monsters. Of course Henry also has competition in his quest to locate the lost treasures, from Weasleby who happens to be the second best adventurer in the Pompous Adventurer's Club.
It's awkward attempting to pigeonhole Henry Hatsworth into a single genre. The game has platform game elements, there's a fair amount of action and you also have the puzzle elements too. The interesting thing is how all of these different elements combine to make Henry Hatsworth feel like a unique experience. The enemies you defeat in the platform/action sequences are sent in block form to the puzzle realm which is located on the lower screen. These blocks constantly ascend however and enemies can escape the puzzles when blocks ascend to the top of the touch screen. The idea is to switch to the puzzle realm on the lower screen (by pressing the X button) to get rid of them before they can cause you further nuisance. The idea on the lower screen is to match three or more blocks of the same colour to remove them and you'll want to match up the blocks containing your enemies and any power-ups which were also sent from the top screen. The amount of time you can spend on the puzzle is determined by the Puzzle Meter. As soon as it runs out you'll return to the action on the top screen. You can refill the Puzzle Meter by defeating enemies on the top screen.
What makes the game so pleasing is that all of the different elements come together so well. The 2D side-scrolling platform game elements are enjoyable and the controls feel just right. The action elements are also good and feel just how they should do. There are some interesting boss fights with some rather bizarre characters. Henry has both a sword and a gun meaning he's adept at both melee and ranged attacks. Even the block-busting puzzle elements can be hectic and having a time limit when you're playing the puzzles really serves to ramp up the tension and prevents you from being able to take it easy. The game also works because it keeps things interesting. As you find different parts of the golden suit Henry will gain additional abilities and be able to perform new moves. The various worlds you'll explore in the game remain interesting throughout.
If there's one complaint to be made with the game, it's that the difficulty level doesn't rise as gradually as it could have. The difficulty level initially feels very comfortable but as the game progresses it rises dramatically, with many enemies to deal with, and this can lead to frustration creeping in. Early on in the game your assistant, Cole, opens up a shop from which you can purchase an assortment of different items ranging from health meter upgrades to items that can increase the amount of damage your attacks do. Purchasing such items can definitely help to take some of the sting out of the game's difficulty but I would rather have seen the difficulty progress more evenly.
The game is rather pleasing from a visual standpoint. The game has a unique visual style that definitely has a certain charm. Henry looks like something of a cross between Donald Sinden and Windsor Davies whilst his assistant Cole looks like a nineteenth-century cockney urchin. The colour palette is bright and cheery. The game's dialogue sequences use static 2D images but the character portraits do look good and are completely in keeping with the nature of the game.
The dialogue in the game is text only. There is no speech, apart from the occasional "Good Show" from Henry (which isn't subtitled) and the characters speak a garbled kind of gibberish that hearing gamers will probably find slightly irritating after a while. The game's main dialogue is accompanied by character portraits and names so it's always clear who is saying what. Tutorial messages are shown visually with icons showing you the controls. You're always aware of the time limits you'll have when in the puzzle as you'll see the Puzzle Meter deplete. On the whole then, the game is fine for deaf gamers.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is one of those rare games that manages to combine different genres in a effective and enjoyable manner. It's arguably one of the best platform games on the DS but there's more to the game than simply being another 2D platform game. The puzzle elements work well and switching between the platform/action and puzzle elements really helps to keep you on your toes. What's really impressive is how all of the different aspects tie together so well and don't simply feel like isolated features. The sharp increase in difficulty in the latter half of the game is a problem but for the most part this is a very enjoyable game and a bargain at just under £20.