As part of our Game of the Year Awards, Nintendo Life is inviting you to choose one game as your Reader’s Game of the Year. You can vote for anything released on a Nintendo platform in 2009, be it WiiWare, DSiWare, Wii or DS, but you only get one vote, so use it wisely!
To remind you of some of the stellar titles we’ve seen in 2009, we’ll be writing a series of articles recommending some games that you may have forgotten about in the traditional Christmas rush. Now, allow Jonathan Wahlgren to remind you why a ludicrously stereotypical English gentleman's adventure was the best of 2009.
Back in March, EA Tiburon dropped DS gamers a nifty little package that mashed up platformers and puzzlers with a hefty dose of charm. That game was Henry Hatsworth in The Puzzling Adventure and it's almost criminal how many people seem to have forgotten about it already.
The old geezer's adventure is unlike anything else on the handheld, or on any other platform for that matter. In Hatsworth's quest to locate the lost pieces of the golden Gentlemen's Suit before his rival, Weasleby, you'll be doing equal parts old-school platforming and puzzling, the latter of which is essentially Puzzle League. What you do in one directly impacts the other: offing an enemy with your sword while platforming will send them to the puzzle realm, who must then be matched away before reaching the top screen again to wreak havoc upon you. Building up your puzzle meter enough will allow you to transform into a giant robot and absolutely destroy everyone around you.
Yes, that's right: a giant robot. You transform your little old Englishman into a giant robot; if that's not Game of the Year material then I don't know what is.
The puzzle/platforming mix is a clever and innovative balancing act that adds a lot of depth to an already great game. And unless you're a cold-hearted git, you'll succumb to the Hatsworth charm and humour that is marinated into every aspect of the game. Whether it's Gene Rozenberg's exquisite soundtrack, conversation babble, secret stages or the Quartermain-send-up of a protagonist himself, there's bound to be something that strikes a chord in the tea-drinking heart of every gamer.
If you wrote Hatsworth off as an easy novelty of a game with a cartoony demeanour, well, you couldn't have been more wrong. Hatsworth brings the challenge in spades; the fiendish level design and onslaught of enemies will test your mettle in a way seldom seen in platformers nowadays that aren't Contra. Enemies are relentlessly placed and eager to overwhelm you and boss battles are unforgiving without feeling unfair — you have so many abilities at your disposal that death always feels like your own stupid fault.
The bosses deserve special mention for being some of the best implemented foes on DS. Never content with battling you in only the platforming bits, they will frequently break into the puzzle realm and cause all sorts of difficulties. Besting a big bad takes a lot of frenetic fingerwork, and you can't help but be surprised and smile at what they throw at you. Destroying the final boss, without giving anything away, is one of the most satisfying gaming experiences I've had in a long time.
There is a whole lot to love about Henry Hatsworth's debut adventure. Where New Super Mario Bros. Wii plays it safe with its traditional brand of platforming, Hatsworth tally-hos into unexplored territory. It's unique, challenging, innovative, hilarious and, most importantly, a pure distillation of fun. And isn't that why we play games to begin with?
If you think Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure deserves your vote as Game of the Year, make sure we know about it! Use the Contact Us form, message it to us on Twitter or leave a voicemail on our Skype line at the username NintendoLife. We'll have more games lined up for your consideration in the near future, so keep coming back to see which games we think deserve your vote as Nintendo Life Reader's Game of the Year!