Hidden Gems #X2: Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure (EA's Most Unique Offering To Date)


Ah yes, Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure, truly one of the most underrated games ever released, not just for the DS specifically but also for gaming as a whole. Seriously, this game is an absolutely FANTASTIC triple-A take on the classic "2D indie platformer" genre that Cave Story MASSIVELY popularized back in 2004 (more on CS later, trust me) and easily the greatest thing to come out of EA in a VERY long time.

Now let's pour ourselves a cup of tea and discuss this game like jolly old chaps, shall we?

STORY: Jesus Christ, the entire premise of this game is just plain hilarious. Cut from very much the exact same postmodernist "weird for the sake of being weird" vein as Bowser's Inside Story and boasting the exact same hilariously ANNOYING pseudo voice acting (and in many ways, the cutesy and charming yet deceptively dark sense of humor) of good old Banjo Kazooie, HHITPA (get used to that abbreviation) follows the adventures of the incredibly stereotypically British and cripplingly elderly (but still ludicrously badass regardless) treasure hunter Henry Hatsworth (duh), who goes on a quest to retrieve a mystical set of enchanted pieces of tacky golden clothing that will reverse his aging process and make him a "true gentleman" again.

Along the way, he meets a snobby British mixture of Dr. Eggman and the Penguin (from Batman), a literal corpse bride who shells her husbands with a giant military tank cleverly disguised as a wedding cake, an even more flamboyant counterpart to Gaston from Beauty And The Beast, a clinically insane and wheelchair-bound old man with a morbidly obese blow-up doll serving as his horrifically abusive nurse, and finally the unapologetically blatant ripoff of the Sentinel from X-Men that I honestly think I've ever seen.

Yeah, that's really all you need to know here. Simple but unabashedly self-aware.

GRAPHICS: Easily one of the best-executed and definitely best-looking art styles of anything on the system and also on the Nintendo handheld lineup in general; seriously, you could directly port this game straight onto the 3DS as an official Nintendo title, and it still would not look even the LEAST bit out of place, that's just how utterly beautifully this game captures the classic cartoon look it's aiming for. NEXT!

SOUND: Definitely one of the more fabulously eclectic video game soundtracks to one of the most fabulously eclectic games in recent years, Henry Hatsworth features everything from weird psychadelic "feel-good" hippie tunes (Shammerdoodle) to Great-Mighty-Poo-esque opera-house spoofs (Banson's Aria) and even arse-kicking heavy metal overtures that would make Satan himself weep with envy (Heavy Metal, in similar vein to how Yoshi's Island also used metal for its final boss music).

Oh, and the sound effects and voice clips are fantastic too, so there's also that.

GAMEPLAY: In case you couldn't tell, story REALLY isn't this game's focus (although it DOES have a rather shocking twist at the end that I'd much rather not spoil), but holy MOLY does the actual GAME itself make up for it.

Basically, what the "puzzling" part of this game's title comes from is the fact that when Henry began collecting the legendary Golden Suit that he is shown fully decked out in on the front cover, he also accidentally opened up a whole bunch of interdimensional wormholes between his own realm and the Puzzle Realm (which yes, you DO actually go into for one of the game's later worlds, and sweet shoehorned-in Tetris cameos, is it amazing), effectively meaning that about every thirty seconds or so, you have to check the bottom screen of the DS to make sure that the unapologetically blatant Panel De Pon clone down on the bottom screen doesn't become overstacked with blocks (of course, naturally, if it does, then the blocks will start attacking him).

Also, you have a sword and a gun, both of which you can completely ANNHILATE the vast majority of enemies pretty much effortlessly with if you know what you're doing; basically, HHITPA starts out as exactly the type of difficulty that you would expect from what might as well literally be titled "Professor Layton meets Wario Land with just a teensy little pinch of Devil May Cry thrown in for good measure: The Game" but then (largely due to its unfortunately short length) suddenly undergoes an inexcusably LUDICROUS difficulty spike once you reach Atlantia, with remarkably little time to collect money and upgrade beforehand, and just keeps getting progressively even worse from there.

Cheap bottomless-pit and instant-KO-hazard deaths become EXTREMELY commonplace, enemies begin swarming you like a bunch of crazy fangirls gathered around Link from the Zelda series, the overall level design becomes outright BAD in quite a few places, and the enemies start turning into such utterly insufferable damage sponges that it's not even funny anymore (luckily, however, the game has a giant tea-powered robot suit for helping you deal with THOSE knuckleheads).

So yeah, it becomes a pretty brutally difficult game pretty quickly (ESPECIALLY once you beat the main playthrough and unlock Gentleman Mode), but trust me; if nothing else, it's easily worth slogging your way through this entire game just for its boss battles ALONE. (Yes, even Tealand, when you consider the fact that this game has a flipping X-MEN SENTINEL as its final boss...)

OVERALL: For what it's worth, Henry Hatsworth is energetically fun (albeit ridiculously frustrating at times), extremely challenging, exceptionally charming and eccentric to the extremes, would make for a very GOOD SHOW indeed and is easily one of the greatest hidden gems to ever come out of handheld gaming, period. Though it sadly will never get a proper sequel at the rate that EA's going, this game is easily an 8.75/10