Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
By Jove, this new puzzle and adventure game from the chaps at Electronic Arts is a most splendid adventure.
Henry Hatsworth is your new grandpa. Congratulations. Pick him up, play with his mustache and give him and hug, because if you're lucky, he'll let you wear his awesome hat and monocle. Then you can skip around going "pip, pip" and bristling with the confidence of a real man (or woman). Oh yeah, and he stars in this new DS game from EA (of all companies) in which he's collecting treasure and attacking enemies with his sharp wit, but this isn't your standard issue platform romp. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is a hybrid puzzle/adventure game, and we need it in our pockets.
Henry is a treasure hunter looking to get his greedy hands on anything valuable and shiny. He also lives in a land where the "real world" (called Tealand) and the puzzle world coexist, and for matters of convenience, the puzzle world is loaded with riches and monsters. So, he sets off to pilfer things while at the same time searching for fragments of a golden piece of powerful armor that imbues the wearer with extreme power. Naturally, enemies get in his way, and Hatsworth can make short work of them through slashing, shooting and even juggling.
Here's where it gets especially interesting. Every time you defeat an enemy, it becomes a block and plummets to the bottom screen. The more foes you vanquish, the more blocks flood this screen, rising and rising until the top row breaches the screen and reappears on the top as more powerful bad guys. To prevent this from happening, you can leave the adventuring portion and focus solely on the puzzling, horizontally matching three or more of the same blocks to make them disappear. Then you can go on your merry way.
That said, there's more to the puzzles than simply destroying blocks. As EA explained, you can also use this mode to power up Henry's abilities, allowing his gun to carry much larger bullets. In addition, filling a meter by eliminating blocks allows Henry to enter Tea Time, a state of being in which he sips some presumably delicious tea, dons the aforementioned suit of armor and gives his adversaries an English gentleman's beating.
Naturally, not all enemies will die easily. During the course of this 30 level adventure, you'll run across bosses, all of which fit the game's whacky theme. One, in particular, is an opera singer (appropriately dubbed Opera Man) that uses his voice as a weapon. He also has a nasty habit of throwing new puzzle blocks onto the playfield, so you'll need to not only deal with him on the top screen, but also solve puzzles on the bottom. Do this successfully, and you'll send a mob of screaming fans his way and they'll deal a significant amount of damage.
At this point, it's much too early to tell whether EA can pull this off. It's hard enough creating one video game, let alone two at once, and for Hatsworth to be successful, the adventure and puzzle elements will both need to hold our interests. For now, however, we're all about Henry and his monocle, and can't wait for the game's early 2009 release. By jove, indeed.