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Platform and puzzle games collide with Henry Hatsowrth in the Puzzling Adventure...
EA dresses up with a top hat and cane, becoming quintessentially British with the quirky DS platform/puzzler Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. In search of the fabled Golden Suit, Henry Hatsworth owes much to the likes of Super Mario, Devil May Cry, and Tetris. An unlikely group of games that somehow manages to pull together to offer an alarmingly unique and engrossing amalgamation of two improbable genres.
Taking control of Henry Hatsworth on the top screen in the 'real world' is reminiscent of the classic platformer, albeit with an emphasis on the action. Armed with a sword and projectile weapon (gun, bomb, boomerang), combos play a crucial role in the action of the real world. Defeating the many strange creatures that come before him, Henry Hatsworth's use of the projectile weapon is limited by his Super Energy. Switching between forms like Mario and Super Mario, with the ability to briefly transform into an invincible robot when the Super Energy gauge is completely replenished - Tea Time - the trick to replenishing Super Energy is by switching into the puzzle realm to finish off the enemies you dispose of in the real world.
The puzzle realm - on the bottom screen - is a variation on the classic Tetris formula. By linking together at least three blocks of a certain colour you'll complete a chain, replenishing a little puzzle energy (needed to stay in the puzzle realm) and super energy. Finishing off the enemy blocks before they advance towards the top and back into the real world is the main challenge, however the puzzle realm also brings extra benefits such as Item blocks that bring all manner of bonuses to Henry in the real world. Jumping into the puzzle realm also allows hidden blocks to appear in the real world to access secret areas and make things a little easier for Henry, whilst his projectile firepower can also be increased by quickly switching to the puzzle realm before the bullet has hit an enemy.
The way in which Henry Hatsworth weaves its disparate elements together is the game's biggest quality. Everything is finely balanced to the point of near perfection, resulting in a flow to the gameplay that could have quite easily come unstuck. There's also a tremendous sense of urgency throughout the entire game. The sword/gun combat ensures the game plays at a fast tempo, whilst the constant ticking of the puzzle realm and encroaching threat of enemies re-appearing creates a need to juggle tasks continuously - the gaming equivalent of spinning plates. There are even shades of a Miyamoto-san quality in the design of the platform stages, with plenty of Mario-like secrets to discover and come back for.
Although Henry Hatsworth offers a pretty stiff challenge, the five worlds are over pretty quickly once you've got the hang of things. Further replay value comes from an unlocked tougher difficulty upon completion, but nevertheless this is a game that's best savoured in small doses.
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