You know what causes the downfall of an empire? Academics cite socio-political reasons, but we know the truth: a lack of save points. Men like Henry Hatsworth set out to discover lost treasures and plunder their way round the world, but weaker-minded souls admit defeat after covering the same ground 20 times in a row.
Hatsworth, of Tealand’s Pompous Adventurers Club, is made of stern stuff, however, and even after he has walked away from another thwarted attempt to get though a level, he will be back to try again before long. With its mix of action-platforming and tile-shifting puzzling, this is a game that’s been sprinkled with Just One More Go™ powder. Yes, more regular save points would have been nice, and certainly kinder for the ‘casual’ gamer this is aimed at, but hey, challenging’s good, yes?
The basic gist is that the top screen is a platformer while the touch screen is a puzzler. Up top, Henry jumps and fights through five (slightly generic) worlds. Slain enemies drop into the grid, where matching them with like-coloured blocks finishes them off. Powerups are collected in a similar fashion, meaning the two games are linked. Ignore the grid and enemies rise up from it to pester you; clear enough blocks and you can activate Henry’s awesomely silly robot destructo-suit in Tea Time mode.
Alone, neither of the elements would impress much – they’re well presented but basic. Together, though, they create a game that lures you in with its simplicity and then kicks you in the plums – and yet you love it. Beyond the initial basic task of picking the right time to switch screens there are more subtle tricks that have to be mastered: chaining combos in the puzzle grid to power up a projectile, juggling enemies on your sword, holding powerups in the grid until they’re needed without losing them off the top of the screen… Fail to pick up on Hatsworth’s nuances and you won’t get far.
Like Henry himself, this game harks back to a bygone era. An age of simple concepts done well, of patience-testing but rewarding challenges. The sun never sets on great ideas like these.
Mar 18, 2009