Below is the third entry in my countdown of five epic games (native to Nintendo consoles) that really should get sequels. As part of my series, I wrote to some of the designers and developers behind these deserving titles.
Kyle Gray, the main brain (and Director) behind the DS-exclusive Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure, took the time to respond to my email and sent me the following letter. As expected, it isn’t a very positive response, but I got his permission to publish his email here anyway. Enjoy the news update and leave me any comments below. If you have substantial questions or follow-up inquiries, I can gladly pass your thoughts or questions along to this legendary designer.
Unoclay, 24Nov11 to Kyle Gray:
. . . blah blah blah . . . .I’m simply writing to inquire if there has been any update to the situation with Hatsworth, and whether the probability of a sequel is any more likely than it was a few years ago.
As a devotee of the DS, I’d gladly say it ranks among the best titles on the system–and that is most definitely “saying something” imho. The game is of the purest, highest quality, and I pray you’re able to someday sequel this item. I suspect your reply may have something to do with IPs, ownership by EA, etc….but tell me it’s possble, or even likely…the fans WANT to know!
Kyle Gray, 29Dec11 to Unoclay:
Greetings, my fine fellow!
I would love to do a sequel, but as you are no doubt aware, I ceded my rights to the game long ago when I created it at EA. Having quitted the company, it is doubtful that they would ever let me create a derivative work, and I lack the funds to purchase the necessary rights from them. Nor have I heard of any sequel in the works through whatever EA contacts I still have.
Be that as it may, perhaps I’ll try my hand at a spiritual successor at some point. Apologies for the late response.
(he called me ‘fine fellow’! How cool is that!?)
Too bad, but much what I expected. If you want to support Mr. Gray’s general sense of creativity, check out The Experimental Gameplay Project, easily one of the coolest things on the web.
(below is the text of the original blogpost)
Nintendo Games that DEMAND sequels (part 3)
Full disclosure: I REALLY WANTED to make the following game #1, but it’s probably best to end on a high note and finish out with a game that might actually get a sequel. . . which #2 probably won’t. But if I could have my wish, this #2 game would get a followup before anything else on the list–its a strong contender for my all-time favorite game of the original DS catalog (which is saying a lot). It deserves a sequel SO badly…and I envy anyone who hasn’t played it yet. You’re in for a HUGE treat.
If you missed the first two entries in this series (#5, #4, and #3 Nintendo games that DEMAND a sequel), find them here:
#5 and #4: http://tinyurl.com/6twbm5n
And now with no further ado, #2.
#2: Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
Hilarious. Addictive. Challenging. Innovative.
Some titles can claim a few of these labels, but very few video games are such perfect mixtures of LOL humor and rock-solid gameplay, or successfully merge fresh, original ideas with adult-level difficulty.
If there is one single element that makes Henry Hatsworth so unforgettable, it must be the way the game perfectly weds the worlds of puzzle gaming (ala Tetris) with the familiar conventions of platform adventures. When you invest in this cartridge, you’ll truly be getting two games in one package–and both are insanely addictive.
The upper DS screen is where the majority of the action takes place; you’ll guide Hatsworth through a variety of environments, thwaking enemies with your melee sword and blasting tougher baddies with Henry’s cartoonish elephant gun. Even Henry’s basic attacks are satisfyingly addictive; HH is one of those games where the basic combat mechanism never gets old, thanks largely to the ability to juggle enemies with multiple hits and earn extra item drops. The environments are colorful and fresh, there are a high number of longish levels to explore, and most areas include hidden side-rooms full of treasure and items. Meanwhile, the music is simply awesome; reminiscent of a Tim Burton film, the brilliant score serves to amplify the themes and cartoonish atmosphere of the game. If you don’t believe me, DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE SCORE HERE (thanks EA!) and listen for yourself!
But the platforming is literally only half the fun. The lower DS screen is a Meteos-style, ever-rising sea of colored blocks that must be matched into chains of 3 colors or greater. Let the pile climb too high, and enemies will start to swarm upward into your platform adventure. This steady climb of the puzzle requires the player to switch between upper and lower screens every few seconds. At first glance, this mechanism might sound disruptive or annoying, but trust me–you’ll be completely blown away by this ingenious, entertaining hybrid of two addictive games. Furthermore, the puzzling serves purposes beyond mere entertainment. Bonus items (that affect play on the upper screen) and enemies are buried within the puzzle pieces, meaning that a player has incentives (beyond basic survival) to motivate frequent visits to the lower screen. And lest you make the mistake of thinking the puzzle aspect is merely a tacked-on concept with lots of flash but no true pizazz, just consider the reward for becoming a puzzle master (thereby filling your super meter to the max):
If you have any doubts about this game, look deep inside your soul and ask the burning question that has troubled philosophers and sages through the ages:
WHAT OTHER GAME COMBINES STUFFY BRITISH TEA-TIME with HEAVY METAL MECH WARRIOR COMBAT?
Finally, no review of this 10/10 game would be complete without a mention of Henry Hatsworth’s legendary sense of humor. Not only is the game’s basic setup fundamentally hilarious (Henry discovers a magical golden bowler hat that allows him to manipulate the puzzle realm in a quest to acquire the lost pieces of the magic ‘Gentleman’s Suit’), the entire adventure is colored with a ridiculous caliber of goofy polish and running jokes. If you love the Mario & Luigi RPG series for DS, this game will simply knock your socks off with equally-awesome comic moments. Characters speak in nonsensical voices of parodic British pidgin, something between Charlie Brown’s gargling teachers and outright Monty Python lunacy. It’s some of the most entertaining”voice acting” I’ve ever heard in a game, and boosts this game beyond “merely funny” to the hallowed level of clownish soul we loved in games like Earthworm Jim and Dragon’s Lair. It’s tough to describe what I’m talking about, so check out the following video.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that finishing the game (a feat in itself–some of the final scenes are notably difficult) opens a “hard” mode. It is a testament to this game’s greatness that I immediately started a second playthough, hungry for the extreme challenge of the bonus mode.
With so many games that aren’t worth the time we spend on them, Henry Hatsworth In the Puzzling Adventure stands out as one of the most interesting, worthwhile titles I’ve played over the last generation. If you don’t believe me, then listen to what IGN’s own legendary Mark Bozon had to say about Henry Hatsworth (just before awarding it an overall 9.0 and an Editor’s Choice distinction): “There isn’t much more that can be said about Hatsworth without coming right out and telling you to buy it, which is exactly what I’m doing.”
WILL THERE BE A SEQUEL?
In a 2009 Nintendolife.com interview, HH lead designer Kyle Gray (who has since left EA and gone on to found the ultra-awesome Experimental Gameplay Project along with Kyle Gabler of World of Goo) had the following to say about the possibility of a Hatsworth followup:
KG: If I got a call from EA that gamers were clamouring for a second Hatsworth (call me EA!) then I’d once again don my bowler hat and set to work on the sequel. I think we only managed to scratch the surface of British stereotypes, and I’ve love to broaden out – into French stereotypes, for example!
Otherwise, the web is not overflowing with any recent information. In researching this article, I emailed the Experimental Gameplay Project to request any update from Mr. Gray, but have received no response as of yet. If anyone reading this article has any additional information, PLEASE share it….I know I’m not the only one thirsty for another Tea-Time with Henry Hatsworth.
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