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Nintendo DS Review: Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure

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Peanut butter and pickles, chocolate and doughnuts, milk and sausages; each of these represent unlikely combinations that few would expect to succeed. If one of your friends expressed an affinity for these above delicacies, it would probably cause you to give him a weird look.

That same look of initial skepticism can also be applied to Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure. Like your unusual companion, this title combines dissimilar elements, in this case platforming acumen and puzzle expertise, into a brew that may initially appear repugnant. However, as your comrade is able to combine peanut butter and pickles into an enjoyable meal, Henry Hatsworth is able to make its incongruent elements gel successfully. The resulting concoction is an adventure that is not only one of the most unique titles on Nintendo’s DS, but also one of its best.

As Henry, you will be on a quest to acquire pieces of the “Gentleman’s Suit,” an ensemble made out of solid gold. You will have to navigate through treacherous forests, sky temples, volcanoes and hazardous city streets in order to claim your prizes. Blocking your path is a menagerie of enemies, ranging from lemming-like toads to crazed ax-men and wacky ballerinas. Stopping them will require you to use your wits and weapons; you will come equipped with a gun that can shoot bullets and an effective melee attack. As you progress, your gun will be able to shoot bombs and boomerangs, and Henry will become richer for his toils, as you will happen upon treasure that will come from defeated foes and in the form of a large chest that will greet you at the end of each level.

Foes that taste the business end of your armaments will not simply disappear; they will merely fall onto the game’s second screen in a puzzle sequence that mirrors Bejeweled. Here, you will have to match colors and blocks in order to take them out permanently. Fail to accomplish this, and they will return to harass you on the top screen, where your platforming exploits take place until they are disposed of permanently.

Your journey through this adventure will start out rather tame, as money will arrive quickly and resistance will be minimal, causing you to cover ground quickly. However, these moments of respite will not last. Stronger foes and challenging obstacles will promptly arrive on the scene, aiming to turn your adventures from a cakewalk into a catastrophe. This is most evident in the “arena battles,” where you will have to take on many different types of foes at a time, with nary a rest in between them. These battles become more numerous as you progress; fortunately, they can be handled through careful upgrading, done by accessing a shop on the Level Map. It carries advancements for your melee and projectile attacks, as well as extra pieces of life and items that will allow you to extend your puzzle meter, which determines the amount of time you have to spend in that area. The “Gentleman’s Suit” will help you as well; locating pieces of it will allow you to obtain new abilities. Though you start with a mere hat, you will eventually wear items such as speed-boosting shoes and wall-jumping pants.

This sharp rise in difficulty, akin to figuring out simple algebra on one test and immediately moving to the Pythagorean Theorem, is one of the game’s biggest disadvantages. So much that it can cause novices to feel overpowered by what is present. Your life bar comes in the form of hearts, which will decrease as you take damage; enough hits will cause you to “become old” and diminish your Super Meter, with additional hits equaling death. Conversely, if you are able to fill up your Super Meter with successful puzzle combos, you will gain temporarily invulnerability in the form of a super robot, capable of various attack maneuvers.

When the game is not pushing the limits of your skills with its various obstacles, it successfully puts on a great audio/visual presentation. Henry animates well and humorously says “hoo” and “hah” in between his jumps and his attacks. The enemies give amusing expressions when they take damage in the top screen, and are equally funny when defeated in the puzzle realm. The backgrounds are simple, providing a nice backdrop for the action, and the game’s music provides catchy tunes and entertaining ditties that will cause you to hum in enjoyment even when the going gets tough.

Those moments when you are tempted to throw your DS into the nearest compactor will not be due to sloppy controls – Henry’s actions respond crisply to your commands and every mistake he makes will clearly be due to your own error rather than his.

Other frustrations aside, playing through Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure is an experience that you will never forget. Despite its various difficulty potholes and disparate gameplay elements the game is able to provide a satisfying experience worthy of “being much greater than the sum of its parts.”

Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Cartoon Violence.

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About Jason Townsend-Rogers