Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure - Retro Reflections

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure by developer EA Tiburon and publisher Electronic Arts—Nintendo DS retro reflection written by Hamza. 2009.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The result you get when you mix a British professor, platforming with puzzle elements and solid fun is Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. To sum up the game; Tomb Raider with elements from Columns. Though the controls are a little finicky and a pain to get around to, the gameplay is original and always on its toes. Other games have originality that only seems to come in short bursts... here, it stays with you always and never gives up for a second.

The story sees the titular protagonist on the search for the Golden Suit – a grab that will allow the user access to the Puzzle Realm. At first skeptical that the suit has any alleged magical powers, he succumbs to the old wives tale when he personally witnesses what it can do, despite only finding the hat. When he dons it, he immediately becomes younger and fast, opposite of his current, original self. Intrigued, he then seeks out to find the rest of the suit, solving puzzles, fighting critters and knights along the way.

The story is simple and positively reeks of old school adventure and action, with exploring and battle elements. Quite reminiscent of King Solomon’s Mines – but without the macabre, of course. At first glance, Henry Hatsworth looks and acts very similar to the old, bygone platform games, namely Super Mario Bros. and looks all set on becoming a repetitive clone, rather an original title. It is only when the tutorial levels end and the actual game starts does it bring distinct, original ideas... and it is from precisely here onward you’re given no reason to unappreciate the enjoyable and satisfying gameplay.

With traditional platform designs in check, with throwaway similarities to Castlevania, our protagonist is at first armed with only his trusty shotgun and a sword, which you shortly get afterwards. Though the shotgun can fire three bullets in succession, the sword is easily the most promising weapon in your arsenal, as it inflicts more damage. Occasionally, when the meter on the right in the puzzle section is filled to the max, a mode, called “Tea Time” is activated via tapping on the screen. In the so-called “Tea Time”, Henry can man a mecha-suit, or robot-suit, that can shoot lasers and stomp enemies. As great an addition the suit was, it was disappointing for two reasons. One: the robot-suit wasn’t exciting enough, and due to its awkward size and controls, it wasn’t fun to control and inflicted just about the same amount of damage as the sword, so it wasn’t cool at all. Two: it only activated for a disappointingly short period of time, and I’m talking mere seconds; in heavy contrast to how long it takes to fill up the bar.

Going back to the level designs, as much traditional as they were, the levels were alive and full of spirit. With impressive parallax scrolling, they reminded me of a 3D version of A Link to the Past. Unlike most other platformers where cheap deaths can occur if one misjudges the gap or ill-times a jump – *over here, the author looks askance at Super Castlevania IV” – this game is forgiving in that fact. If you don’t make a jump, don’t worry, as you will only fall in the green river below. But you must be careful, as you can drown. This “no-cheap-death-feature” was very inviting as I had one less thing to worry about.

The enemies vary from purple, stun-faced critters to knights to fire-breathing shamans to others. At every successful defeating of the enemy, he will go down to the puzzle section and become a block. Anyone who has played Columns or Hexicor other puzzle-matching games will know how the drill goes. When three or more blocks of the same color or icon are matched, they will disappear. If you match three blocks with faces on them – they are the enemies you fought in the “real world” – then the timer on the meter on the left will fill up. Likewise with the blocks with glowing spots in the center. The thing is the timer-meter is always decreasing, so you need to match and disappear as many blocks as you can in that time period. Quite-uncommon in other similar games, the blocks in Henry Hatsworth keep gradually moving upwards. Should an enemy block be at the top and should you fail to match him with two others or bring him down to a lower level, then the block will come out to the “real world” and start attacking you. Though they are easy to evade and one bullet does the job, it does become something of a pain when you are already fighting a horde of enemies or a boss. Once you kill the block, it is gone forever.

Like I said before, this game is always on its toes to trap you and keep you coming up with strategies. Never once was I frustrated by its difficulty, but after re-playing one level one-too many times just because I didn’t see the fire-breathing shaman and that three blocks escaped the puzzle section; I started getting a little hot under the collar. Calling it a day didn’t do the trick because by the time of where the difficulty got to me I had become quite-aiddicted and was determined to finish it, by any means necessary.

Every game, no matter how perfect, has its issues and the player, his/her qualms. The game’s main issue lied in its tight controls and one-sided originality. You could see love went to its puzzle sections and the layout of the levels, but even then, they bore too many similarities to other games that had me thinking that somewhere down the line, the developers had become lazy. The introductory level is the same as the first level in Braid. Going to the tight controls, sometimes Henry would get all awkward and wouldn’t turn, while the knight’s sword would rain down upon him... killing him.

Also, the speaking parts are hilarious in the fact that they don’t contain any actual vocals; just screaming, yelping, and odd sounds from the throat. When Henry’s assistant ‘talked’, it seemed as if he was voiced by Link. But these are minor problems and nothing worth losing sleep over. I just wish they hadn’t existed or had some thought gone behind it.

The boss battles were very reminiscent of Megaman 2: The Power Fighters. The battles weren’t too impressive and had in them the same old “hit-once-and-dodge/duck” mentality that is witnessed in a-many other games, especially Mega Man Zero and its sequels. 

In conclusion, Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure was a pure joy and satisfying in every level. It is likable, has considerable challenge and will provide old-school 80’s platform action with a modern touch to anyone wishing to give it a try. Like they say, there’s nothing like a good tea can’t fix. Henry Hatsworth knows that. And by the time you call it a day, you too will be craving for a cup of the greatest beverage the world has ever seen.

Note: Screenshots from all platforms that were available at the time can be found here at Moby Games.

Score: 9.0 / 10