"Henry Hatsworth has been screwed over. Badly. Itís been released during one of the highest points in the DSís history; with stuff like Pokemon Platinum, Valkyrie Profile, and several other amazing titles taking the gaming scene by storm, itís been completely forgotten. Overshadowed, overlooked, and doomed to forever rot in obscurity on game store shelves. Such an undeserving fate isnít just pathetic. As Henry himself would say, it is bollocks! Utter poppycock! This fe..."
Henry Hatsworth has been screwed over. Badly. Itís been released during one of the highest points in the DSís history; with stuff like Pokemon Platinum, Valkyrie Profile, and several other amazing titles taking the gaming scene by storm, itís been completely forgotten. Overshadowed, overlooked, and doomed to forever rot in obscurity on game store shelves. Such an undeserving fate isnít just pathetic. As Henry himself would say, it is bollocks! Utter poppycock! This fellowís adventure is one of the most unusual, hilarious, and addictive games in years. So grab your DS and start practicing your best wannabe British accent. Itís tea time.
At its core, Henry Hatsworth is all about celebrating the glory days (and the various stereotypes) of the gentlemen of the British upper class. Those rich bastards with the insanely long moustaches and fancy eyewear, the guys that spent their weekends tracking wild animals in Africa and decorated their mansions with the stuffed bodies of their prey, or the ones that seemed to be perpetually chugging down Earl Grey. Itís so easy to ridicule such characters, but Henry Hatsworth makes it look good. As the holder of the #1 position in the Pompous Adventurersí Club, heís practically obligated to be a witty, monocle-clad, swashbuckling, wealthy old man. When a piece of a legendary suit of armor - crafted by the original Gentleman, of course - comes into his possession, he discovers that it unlocks a parallel dimension filled with monsters and treasure. Thus he embarks on an epic quest to find the other pieces and claim the glory and riches that await.
Hatsworth, armed only with a machete and laser shotgun, goes wandering into the jungle in search of the next part of armor. It seems like a straightforward platforming excursion; he trots down the vine-laden paths, leaps over bottomless pits, and carves his way through an assortment of throwaway lackeys. Thereís nothing particularly fascinating or original about itÖ At first. Donít let the initial levels fool you; this game gets tough. Really, really quickly. Once youíve made it past the first few intro stages, youíll be bouncing off hot air balloons while dodging flurries of cannonballs, barely staying one jump ahead of a screen-filling killer shark, and taking on small armies of the minions you used to take for granted. Thanks to some superb level design and enemy placement, youíll occasionally find yourself struggling to get past some crucial area because you canít deal with everything being shoved down your throat. Perseverance will be rewarded, though; completing levels grants Hatsworth more weapons and abilities. Between bombs, boomerangs, and wall-jumping abilities a la Mega Man X, Sir Henry is a force to be reckoned with.
But while your eyes are glued to the top screen, you probably wonít notice the real danger lurking beneath: the Puzzle Realm. As you progress through the level, rows of colored blocks will steadily rise from the bottom and eventually creep up into the top screen. While they donít look particularly fearsome, those things can prove to be your deadliest foe. When you slay an enemy, it crashes into the lower screen and gets crammed into a block. If it manages to get back up into the top screen, itíll seek vengeance by going pulling a kamikaze run on Hatsworthís monocled face. To keep that from happening, the game emulates what Panel de Pon and Tetris Attack established years ago: line up three of the same colored blocks together to make them disappear. If you take the time to position things correctly, you can pull off multiple combos to fill an energy meter running the length of the screen. Itís almost insultingly unoriginal, but itís so damned addictive that you probably wonít care. Youíve only got a few precious seconds to cut down the never-ending wall of blocks, so you better keep that stylus handy.
Sounds ridiculous, doesnít it? Platforming and puzzles? The beauty of Henry Hatsworth is how it blends these very different genres together. Since thereís an imposed time limit for the Puzzle Realm, youíll have to figure out how to balance your time playing on both screens. The switch is easy to make - all you have to do is press a button - but itís easy to forget about the other side. While the game is challenging, the Puzzle Realm does its part to support you. Some blocks contain items or power-ups that can replenish health, freeze time, temporarily shock enemies, and plenty of other handy little helpers. Youíll be relying on the energy meter the most, though; each successful combo grants you the power to wield your secondary weapons. Most importantly, it lets you have Tea Time. Not for drinking, of course. In Hatsworthís world, Tea Time means epically summoning a giant mecha (while the British flag flashes in the background, no less) and laying siege to your foes with lasers, fist cannons, and heavy metal galore until the energy runs out.
Oh yes, Tea Time is jolly good.
Itís that kind of parody and humor that makes the game so entertaining. Hatsworth might be British, but his voice is so muddled by his thick accent and burly moustache that it comes out as a series of unintelligible (but still gentlemanly!) grunts. His arch nemesis is Leopold Charles Anthony Weaslby the Third, and heís just as much of a pretentious bastard as his name implies. The same goes for Lance Banson, who sings opera and gets run over by his female admirers throughout his boss battle. Little details, like Hatsworth panting or cleaning his monocle when heís standing still, add even more charm. The levels themselves are pretty enough to keep you distracted from their brutal learning curves. Even if you are running over collapsible bridges or narrowly avoiding spiky walls, youíll still see them as lush jungle paths or beautiful coral reefs. Itís a shame that the Puzzle Realm didnít get the same kind of treatment. Sure, the blocks look fairly animated (the grimacing faces of the slain enemies especially), but thereís nothing particularly eye-catching or engaging. But when youíre playing something as addictive as a Panel de Pon knockoff, simplicity might be better anyway.
Look, folks. If you have a DS, you need to play Henry Hatsworth. At least once. Itís an incredibly fun and addictive game. It might not be as deep or have as much content as some of the heavy hitters in the handheldís library, but itís got the right stuff where it counts. An abundance of the right stuff. Hatsworth is one of the most hilarious protagonists in years; between his stereotypically pompous attitude and badass abilities, heís far more entertaining than whatever boring RPG hero youíre currently playing. But humor aside, the game delivers a truly solid and challenging platforming adventure that puts some of the DSís best to shame. Itís a difficult, but rewarding trek through some really well-designed levels. The Tetris Attack-style gameplay might not be original, but itís just as fun; youíll be spending just as much time leaping around the top screen as you will stylus-scratching away on the bottom. This is one of the few examples of how well the DSís two screens can be used together. What makes this game great is how it combines the best of both genres and comes out with something even better. Good show, Hatsworth. Good show.
Featured community review by disco (April 05, 2009)
Disco is a San Francisco Bay Area native, whose gaming repertoire spans nearly three decades and hundreds of titles. He loves fighting games, traveling the world, learning new things, writing, photography, and tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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