The cap with the golden touch.
The platforming genre has been a part of every generation – actively – since the Atari 2600 and Pitfall. The genre is responsible for some of the greatest games of all time, with the Mario, Metal Slug, Contra, Castlevania, and Mega Man series being the most stubborn over the years, keeping their roots visible and traditional. But for all of the classic-loving and retro-gamers like me, we know this genre is, in a sense, dying. [or being integrated into everything else ~Ed.]
[image1]But thankfully, it isn’t going down without a fight. There is a story wrapped up in all of this, and it’s about as classic as it gets. You are the British gentleman, Henry Hatsworth, master explorer, on a quest to retrieve the ultimate, most sophisticated suit… ever. It’s completely gold in color, and gives its wearer only the most worthy special abilities throughout, like being able to breath underwater (not swim though) and leap off walls. But look out! You have to fight another guy looking for it, and get this… he’s a rich snob!
Building a title like this one can be tricky, but Henry Hatsworth holds its world together well. The action is well-paced, never outright-overwhelming, with piles upon piles of enemies all swarming at once, yet managing a medium level of difficulty at the same time. At points, they’ll come at you in a non-scrolling area, and come from all sides. Each part of the platforming feels well thought-out and controlled, almost like a high-end NES/SNES title, and it’s never so difficult that you feel like quitting.
Then, when you think you’ve got yourself going, there’s the puzzle on the lower screen. In truth, it’s basically Pokémon Puzzle League (or any of its variants) with a few adjustments. During your time in the puzzle which is limited as the blocks continuously rise, you can finish off baddies that you defeated in the platforming section. Every enemy defeated is then sent to the puzzle as blocks… and if you don’t remove them in time, they will return to the screen in very annoying fashion. Strategic puzzling will also earn you power-ups ranging from health to a few-second freeze on the main screen and even extra lives.
[image2]The coup de grâce is when your secondary meter is filled up to capacity, by defeating enemies in the puzzle. When it’s empty, you’re just an old fella with a big knife (I don’t think it’s a sword…); when it’s full, you are a legendary explorer of the unknown… or at least a massive and bloody British robot.
Yup. British robots. They’re out there. With a fast-moving Union Jack blurred behind them to remind you of their sheer power.
Dialog throughout the game is hilarious, mostly because the writing is amusing and the “voices” are perfectly fitting. Imagine a “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”-ish fella just… grunting. Barely making actual words. It gives the game an extra boost of humor in its already amusing scenarios. One of the bosses is a senile old man – who has the shoes for the suit – and his fat nurse is swinging him around like a weapon!
[image3]Even though the whole package is so fun and well put-together, that doesn’t mean all is perfect in the world of Henry. The puzzling is very simplistic and somewhat bare, and has been used multiple times before under multiple pseudonyms over the years. So while it’s as fun as it’s been (especially with the improvements complimenting the platforming adventure), it’s stale. And it’s the same with the platforming itself – there just isn’t enough new here. The hybrid of puzzler and platformer is innovative, but the pieces by themselves are not original enough.
However, the whole package is very much worth playing through, even if it doesn’t do much of anything outright new apart from the genre combination. This is the title, like Retro Game Challenge, that is helping to keep the classics around. And for good reason: everybody should get the chance to play them.