Daily Archives: April 23, 2009

First Impressions: Henry Hatsworth

On a day like today, what on earth could be more British than Henry Hatsworth? Putting aside that it’s developed by a Florida based studio, Mr Hatsworth is the epitome of Victorian adventurers. A gentleman, if you will. With a bowler hat firmly on his head a fine moustache flowing from the upper lip, he’s ready to set off into the deepest darkest jungles to recover lost treasures from the savages and give Johnny Foreigner a damn good hiding, what, what!

Just as with the last DS eccentric, Professor Layton, the character style is the first thing to set this cartridge apart from the competition. Opening cutscenes will present Hatsworth, his younger friend Cole and their nemesis Weasleby as clichés of a by gone Britain. Cole, in particular, is only a hair’s breadth from uttering the word “Guv’nor” whilst offering to shine your shoes. Playing up to this, their speech, whilst presented in the form of text boxes, is accompanied by samples that match their character with Hatsworth continually huffing and making pompous noises whereas Cole’s sounds seem to be snippets of cockney charm.

The game itself, however, is a platformer. You’ll take control of Hatworth and run and jump him through jungles in search of a mysterious golden suit that is rumoured to have the power to control the world. The locals aren’t too keen on giving up their shiny attire and so their resistence must be put down with swings from your machete and shots from your hunting rifle.

The early levels are very straight forward and the only time that you should see your life counter go down is either through misadventure or experimentation from seeing if that pit in front of you is actually as bottomless as it seems. I’m told that later levels do gain in complexity with the addition of a walljump, allowing access to higher areas, but so far it’s quite a standard affair. Enemies are easy enough to dispatch given enough blows from either weapon, although the odd boss fight crops up, too, to test your resolve.

Where Hatsworth differs from traditional platformers is the delightful inclusion of a Tetris Attack style “parallel world”. Some how your hunt for the suit has opened up a rift between your world and the Puzzle Realm. Any enemies killed in your world are transported to this alternate plane and transformed into blocks. If they are not also disposed of in the Puzzle Realm then they will only return to try and thwart you again.

An interesting narrative but an even more interesting gameplay angle as also hidden within the puzzler are powerups and health boosts for you, too. A tap of a button will see you switch screens and then its a classic “match 3” puzzle setup. Link three of more coloured blocks together and they will be removed along with any monsters they contained and granting you any powerups that they held. Obviously the more that you can remove in a single go the better and so you can always find your eye drifting down from the platforming screen to the grid of squares seeing if there’s an opportunity to setup a devastating combo.

I think it’s fair to say that neither component is exceptional; I’ve played far better platformers and there are many addictive puzzlers out for the DS but both are good and what’s more important is that work exceedingly well together. Much like the Grand Theft Auto, it is more than the sum of its parts.