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Hats Off to Henry Hatsworth

This DS-based combo platformer/puzzle game from EA Casual is extremely British and looks awesome.

The platforming and puzzling are interrelated in a really clever way.
Remember when Electronic Arts split itself into multiple divisions each focusing on areas like sports, the Sims, and casual games? Did you haughtily assume, like I did, from that day forth you'd never again care about anything EA Casual put out? Time to eat your words! EA Casual has a new Nintendo DS game that looks pretty sweet indeed, and drew a lot of attention at EA's summer showcase.

It's called Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, and amazingly it's not actually some kind of Professor Layton rip-off. Instead it's a traditional 2D action platformer. It's also a match-three puzzle game in the style of Panel de Pon. The weird part is, both of these seemingly disparate styles of gameplay occur simultaneously, with your platforming antics taking place on the top screen while the puzzle board hangs out on the bottom screen.

Henry is a refined old English gentleman of leisure who wears a bowler hat and monocle. He can run, jump, and attack with a sword he pulls out of his cane (because what fine gentleman carries a cane without a sword in it?). The platforming is pretty much by-the-book in that regard. But every time you kill an enemy, it zooms down to the puzzle board and becomes a colored block along with all the other blocks. Like in any good puzzle game, those blocks are slowly inching upwards all the time, and if they start spilling into the platforming screen, they'll turn back into enemies and gang up on your ass. So every once in a while, you have to hit the X button to pause the platforming and get your puzzling on down below, before you can go back to the adventuring up top.

You have a limited amount of time to match and clear blocks governed by the meter on the left, though, so the game becomes a sort of balancing act as you fight enemies up top (adding to the blocks at bottom) and then expend your puzzle time trying to clear those blocks out without getting overwhelmed. The puzzle gameplay feeds back into the platforming, too, because clearing blocks fills up a special attack meter on the right that you can use to get more ammo and pop off special attacks.

Henry Hatsworth's style is super British and really endearing. In addition to the general class and refinement of the main character, there are some silly cultural touches in there. One of the special moves you can invoke with a full special meter is called Tea Time! When you hit that button, Henry sips tea in front of a frantically animating Union Jack background, and then turns into a giant steampowered robot that can flatten enemies and fly around the level. I mean, what happens when you sip on some Earl Grey?

It's also easy for a video game nerd such as myself to get excited about Henry Hatsworth because the game is being created by all of seven people down at EA's Tiburon studio, which is primarily only known for Madden and other sports stuff. It's got clever design, it hearkens back to oldschool genres like platformin' and puzzlin', and it's being made by hardly anyone at all--Henry Hatsworth has "little game that could" written all over it. Look for it in early '09. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
19 Comments
Posted by Brad
The platforming and puzzling are interrelated in a really clever way.
Remember when Electronic Arts split itself into multiple divisions each focusing on areas like sports, the Sims, and casual games? Did you haughtily assume, like I did, from that day forth you'd never again care about anything EA Casual put out? Time to eat your words! EA Casual has a new Nintendo DS game that looks pretty sweet indeed, and drew a lot of attention at EA's summer showcase.

It's called Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, and amazingly it's not actually some kind of Professor Layton rip-off. Instead it's a traditional 2D action platformer. It's also a match-three puzzle game in the style of Panel de Pon. The weird part is, both of these seemingly disparate styles of gameplay occur simultaneously, with your platforming antics taking place on the top screen while the puzzle board hangs out on the bottom screen.

Henry is a refined old English gentleman of leisure who wears a bowler hat and monocle. He can run, jump, and attack with a sword he pulls out of his cane (because what fine gentleman carries a cane without a sword in it?). The platforming is pretty much by-the-book in that regard. But every time you kill an enemy, it zooms down to the puzzle board and becomes a colored block along with all the other blocks. Like in any good puzzle game, those blocks are slowly inching upwards all the time, and if they start spilling into the platforming screen, they'll turn back into enemies and gang up on your ass. So every once in a while, you have to hit the X button to pause the platforming and get your puzzling on down below, before you can go back to the adventuring up top.

You have a limited amount of time to match and clear blocks governed by the meter on the left, though, so the game becomes a sort of balancing act as you fight enemies up top (adding to the blocks at bottom) and then expend your puzzle time trying to clear those blocks out without getting overwhelmed. The puzzle gameplay feeds back into the platforming, too, because clearing blocks fills up a special attack meter on the right that you can use to get more ammo and pop off special attacks.

Henry Hatsworth's style is super British and really endearing. In addition to the general class and refinement of the main character, there are some silly cultural touches in there. One of the special moves you can invoke with a full special meter is called Tea Time! When you hit that button, Henry sips tea in front of a frantically animating Union Jack background, and then turns into a giant steampowered robot that can flatten enemies and fly around the level. I mean, what happens when you sip on some Earl Grey?

It's also easy for a video game nerd such as myself to get excited about Henry Hatsworth because the game is being created by all of seven people down at EA's Tiburon studio, which is primarily only known for Madden and other sports stuff. It's got clever design, it hearkens back to oldschool genres like platformin' and puzzlin', and it's being made by hardly anyone at all--Henry Hatsworth has "little game that could" written all over it. Look for it in early '09.
Staff
Posted by c_rakestraw

Sounds interesting. I'll be sure to check it out, when it comes out.

Posted by Terrell

"Henry Hatsworth has "little game that could" written all over it."

So did/does Braid, and that game turned out to be over-hyped, highly pretentious, and just plain boring....so....yeah....

Posted by seanbooker

Finally, I can get way into my DS again, almost of month is too long.

Posted by albedos_shadow

That sounds fucking awesome. I'm always up for English hat-based action.

Posted by Milkman

@Terrell
Uhh..no. That game turned out to be the best Xbox Live Arcade game to date. Get your facts straight.

This game gives off a big Professor Layton jibe for me.

Posted by smellyfarts

I love puzzle games.  I can't wait for it to come out.

Posted by Chaos

This game sounds cool. I'm always happy to hear about games coming to the DS.

Posted by zoozilla

What is this company and what have they done with EA?

Not that I'm complaining...

Posted by Erdie

This just reminded me that I haven't bought a game for my DS in ages.  I'll have to keep an eye on it, I'd probably like this sort of thing.

Posted by wefwefasdf

Yes! I love platformers!

Posted by deaux

It's great to see something really promising on the DS.
Could they do it without having you pause?  Maybe in a challenge mode or boss battles?

Posted by sneaky77

This title looks interesting, I'll have to keep an eye on it

Posted by SuperJoe

Henry seems like a jolly bloke

Posted by HumanTorch101

Instead of a pimp shotgun, he has a pimp sword which is even cooler IMO.  When I drink Earl Grey, I just stay myself.  Maybe he put something else in the tea, like cocaine or heroin.  Anyway, the game itself sounds pretty sweet but I don't have a DS.  Maybe I should get one.

Posted by slowpantz

could be good

Posted by Scooper

Henry Hatsworth is the best name ever, what a bloody smashing bloke.

Posted by SpecialBuddy

Monocle...check
Awesome Moustache...check
Umbrella Fighting...check
BEST GAME EVER!

Posted by Mexalen

nice art. and the gameplay sounds interesting. oh, and the name is excellent.
I think it'S great that more games that feature puzzling in combination with any other kind of genre.