Henry Hatsworth Review «

When I say Henry Hatsworth is a platform-puzzler, does that mean anything to you? Calling it that seems pretty self-explanatory; it’s one part platformer, with you jumping around 2D levels and killing monsters, and one part puzzle game, of the now-standard match-three variety. But that’s simplifying things a bit. The expert blending of those two game types is what really defines this DS adventure. The top screen contains the “real world,” wherein the safari-suited Hatsworth leaps from ledge to ledge, swatting away at baddies that’ve leaked into his reality from the puzzle world, represented on the bottom screen by an ever-rising grid of colored blocks. As separate games, the two sections are mundane takes on their respective genres. But put together, and, more importantly, integrated in such a way that inextricably links the worlds to one another, the two pieces fit like hot tea and crumpets. It’s a shame, then, that little missteps keep this game from being entirely enjoyable.
You would think having to control elements from both the top and bottom screen would be one of those missteps. But in reality, it’s not cumbersome at all (though if you use the stylus to move the blocks on the bottom screen, it can be). You easily swap between the platform and puzzle worlds by pressing the X button at any time. When you’re focusing on the top screen (where you move Hatsworth around with the D-pad and kill things with the attack button), the grid on the bottom slowly rises. And when you switch focus to the puzzle screen, the platforming portion freezes in time, the D-pad changes to your block selector, and the attack button becomes the puzzle’s “swap” button.

Click the image above to check out all Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure screens.

Monsters you kill in the top screen fall to the bottom screen and become blocks in the puzzle, and you won’t want to ignore them, or else they reach the top and leech back into the real world as deadly falling blocks that target Hatsworth. What’s great about the puzzle portion is that each match you make adds a little to your special meter, the power source for your special attacks (high-powered lasers, bomb shields, etc.). And when the special meter is full, it supplies you with first youth (Hatsworth gets younger and more spry) and then the ability to don a killer robotic suit for a short period of time. But time is limited, you can only make matches as long as your puzzle meter isn’t empty. It drains over time as you stay in the puzzle realm and regenerates when you’re focused on the platforming realm (slowly, while you’re jumping around, and more quickly as you deal melee damage to enemies).

You can also activate power-ups through the puzzle realm — blocks that freeze time, or zap all enemies on the screen with lightning. It’s tempting to just clear the bottom screen whenever possible, but it’s in your best interest to time when you activate the blocks in order to maximize your efficiency in the top screen. The action up top may be distracting, but you’ll want to keep a constant eye on the bottom screen — balancing between the two is what makes the game interesting. Especially when you’re fighting against a hard boss — you’ll actually relish the little break you can take to focus on matching colored blocks.

The non-boss platforming sections are fast-paced and occasionally tense, but then you start hopping up your umpteenth narrow section of wall, or sliding down a long chasm, and you’ll start getting déjà vu. And after a while, all the monster types are just variations on one another — look, it’s the same skull-headed cannon bearer, only he’s mobile and a slightly different color this time!

Click the image above to check out all Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure screens.
But that would be fine if it wasn’t for the numerous “locked rooms” sections present in each level. Inevitably, you come to a room where you can no longer progress until you clear out waves of enemies coming in from both sides. Hatsworth has got a good amount of moves at his disposal, including powerful special attacks, a ranged attack, and a few melee combos. He even has the ability to juggle enemies in the air long after they’ve died in order to squeeze from their corpses a few more gems (the game’s currency used to purchase upgrades like more heart meters for Hatsworth). But despite his skill set, Henry is frail. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by enemies (and in fact, some sections start to feel like you’re in some sort of bullet-hell shooter); even in mid-combo, the monsters can hurt you. Worse yet, each hit knocks you back, and your temporary invulnerability after a hit is way too short, making it all too easy for you to get chain-hit to death by the massive mobs of enemies.

The game mostly manages to walk that fine line between catering toward the casual and the hardcore, but in those moments when it leans more toward the hardcore crowd, you experience DS-shaking frustration. Perhaps I’ve just outgrown the taste for that punishing, old school flavor, but Henry Hatsworth can be genuinely trying. Despite its colorful graphics, whimsical appeal, and charmingly silly dialogue, this game may just be too difficult for the non-gamers in your life. Heck, I’ve run through my double digits worth of lives on one boss fight while reviewing this. (Or, alternate theory, I suck.) It’s still worthwhile to check out so long as you have realistic expectations, but don’t be surprised if your not-so-game-savvy mother can’t get past the third world.


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