Here’s an idea for a game: You are a space marine fighting for your life against the demons of Hell. Also, you have just moved to a new town and need to meet all of your animal neighbors and run errands for them. Henry Hatsworth is similarly trans-genre in his first outing, and I mean that with no reference to his sexual orientation, even if he does like to have it both ways.
Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is one half platformer and one half puzzler. The eponymous hero is on a quest to locate all of the pieces of the ultimate gentleman’s suit. The suit’s former owner was able to lock away the evil puzzle world with its powers, and now that it’s been unleashed again it is up to Henry to do the same.
The platforming adventure takes place on the top screen. There are scores of foes to face off against, and you will need every trick in Henry’s arsenal to survive. Each golden-suit piece found unlocks a new ability that is necessary to progress through future levels. Along the way, new enemies are introduced pretty frequently. None of them are particularly difficult on their own, but things get harder than a week old scone when multiple types are thrown at you all at once.
When enemies are killed they fall and become bricks in the puzzle on the bottom screen. The puzzle aspect is your standard” match three in a row to make them disappear” bit, but with a few added twists. A meter on the left shows how long you can stay in the puzzle before being forced back to the top-screen gameplay. If an enemy’s block stacks up to the top of the screen before you can remove it, it rises to the top screen, resurrected as a pain in the fanny.
As you can imagine, the game gets intense. Fortunately, a meter to the right of the puzzle builds up to Tea Time. And this isn’t your grandfather’s tea time. Henry takes his tea inside an unstoppable robo-suit, unleashing havoc on his adversaries. Power-ups within the puzzle also prove useful. By matching them with the appropriate bricks you stop time, regain health, and damage top-screen enemies.
The game does have its share of frustrations. Bad guys are able to get off cheap hits a little too often, especially when you are switching back from puzzle mode. It’s also easy to get stuck in a spot in Tea Time’s mech suit. It is too large to fit under several openings, and you lose extra abilities such as wall jump when wearing it. So sometimes you have to end Tea Time prematurely and start the meter back at zero just because you could not physically progress across the level.
These are minor issues, though. Most of the time you will be having too much frantic fun to worry over them. Side-scrollers are making a strong comeback on the DS, and EA’s outstanding game is by far one of the best. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is really two games that could have been successful separately combined in one magical package. Anyone who disagrees needs to clean his monocle and take another look.