30 Reviews in 30 Days, Day 1 – Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
There have been many reviews that we have intended to get up on the website. I personally have been needing to get several up, including the long overdue review of Street Fighter IV. It just seems like so many things come up. and the next thing we know, it’s so late that getting the reviews up just seems…cheapened somehow.
So I started thinking about a way to make it all work. To get the various reviews of games, both big and indie, up on the site. That’s when this idea came to fruition. 30 Reviews in 30 days: a challenge to review a game every day for 30 days straight. A chance to review not only some of the major games we missed, but also some retro reviews of older games and maybe a surprise or two.
And so it begins with the review of the DS game I have been talking about on the last several podcasts:
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
Puzzle games. Platformers. You don’t normally think of these two game types being combined. Then again, you would not normally think of combining a puzzle game with an RPG, and yet Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords proved it can be done. Add to that the fact the Nintendo DS has everyone looking at gaming in a new light. Companies are getting creative, finding new ways for gamers to play.
Enter Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, a new game by EA.
The premise is simple: take a challenging platformer, cross it with a match 3 puzzle game, add in a little bit of British sensibility, throw in a robot….
Okay, maybe the concept isn’t so simple. Let me see if I can explain a little better.
You are legendary British explorer Henry Hatsworth. Now in your older years, you set out on one last adventure and end up stumbling upon the Golden Suit, a legendary gentleman’s outfit that allows the wearer to rule the world. Each piece the suit gives the wearer different abilities, including the Hat you find in the beginning, which acts as a fountain of youth.
There are two problems with the suit, however:
Problem #1: The Puzzle World
In the game, there are two worlds: the real world and the puzzle world. The real world takes place on the top screen, which is where the platforming begins. This is where the platforming takes place, and believe me, this game is no slouch when it comes to platforming. You will find yourself trying to find that tiny piece of land where you can stand to make the next jump, trying to time it with the enemies you are trying to avoid.
Yes, there are enemies in this game, and they range from the typical canon fodder you see in games like this to much more intriguing ones, like tall ones that if attacked improperly break into four separate ones, or the ones with shields that are harder to take down. Combine these enemies with traps and other platforming pitfalls, and you have a much more difficult game on your hands.
You don’t go into this world unarmed, however. You have your trusty weapons, which include your cane/sword (depending which version of Henry you are, we will come back to that later) , a gun, bombs, boomerangs and more. You’ll use these weapons both the to solve puzzles and deal with enemies.
Balancing your time between the platforming and puzzle play can be a challenge.
These enemies are not normal, however. There is a hole open between the real world and the puzzle one, and these enemies have come through that hole. When you defeat them in the real world, they are sent back to the puzzle on the lower DS screen. This is the puzzle world: a variation of the match three gameplay of bejeweled, with enemies appearing as special blocks in the puzzle. You need to deal with these blocks before they reach the top (puzzle is slowly advancing upward) or they will re-enter the real world and attack you.
This is not as easy as it may sound, however. Remember those more difficult enemies I was talking about earlier? They become difficult puzzle pieces. The one that breaks into four enemies becomes a huge block that, once matched, breaks into four smaller pieces. The ones with shields you have to match twice, and the first block cannot be moved. To top that off, you can only spend a little time in the puzzle world. You gain time you can spend there by spending time in the real world and by making multiple matches rapidly.
Puzzle matches also give you energy, which is used to power your weapons, and health, allowing you to revert back to young Henry when you have taken too much damage in the real platforming world.
These are not the only enemies you have to face, however.
Problem #2: The Bosses
A treasure worth as much as the Golden Suit had to have more than one person trying to find it. Enter Leopold Charles Anthony Weasleby the Third, Henry’s chief rival in the Pompous Adventurer’s Club. And he did not come alone; he has hired people to try and stop you, including a former actress with a booby trapped wedding cake that throws vines into the puzzle and a singing “pirate” who drops anchors into the puzzle to try and advance it faster.
These boss battles and another unique element to the gameplay, both on the platforming and puzzle. In fact, the bosses combined with the enemies and the puzzle world could make you feel outnumbered.
That is, if you didn’t have upgrades.
The Help: Upgrades and “Tea Time”
Fortunately you have help. Henry’s assistant offers different upgrades you can buy with the jewels and coins you find in the real world. These upgrades include more health, more damage inflicted to enemies, more energy for weapons and more time to spend in the puzzle world. These upgrades are essential for making it through the platforming levels in the game.
There is one other thing that truly helps turn the tide in combat, especially during the boss battles. Build up enough energy in the puzzle, you get to declare Tea Time. Yes, that is right, in the midst of everything that is going on, you can call upon your British sensibility and have tea. This isn’t just about pausing the game for a quick cut scene. Tea Time also calls a robot suit up to the real world: powerful, invincible and able to help even score. You can keep this robot suit as long as you have energy, which drains slowly as you battle (faster as you get hit or use the special weapons) and which you can replenish within the puzzle level.
I told you there was a robot.
The boss battles can be a little crazy, but the upgrades and Teat Time help settle the score.
As much as I enjoy this game, there is one thing that makes it frustrating: the spiking difficulty. This game can turn frustratingly difficult at the drop of a hat (no pun intended). The platforming can be insane, sometimes bordering on sadistic. Not to mention the special puzzle pieces that can really be a pain to deal with. Fortunately you can gain extra lives by finding hats that become hat puzzle pieces. You are going to need them.
This game is truly something special. It’s a little hard to put into word just how much fun it is. Just trust me on this one: If you have a DS, you need to get this game. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure gets a 5 out of 5.