Thanks to breakout hits such as Puzzle Quest, the hybridisation of genres into new mixtures of interactivity is continuing apace.
So it was that we decide to shout "Hut, hut, hut" and snap some questions over to sunny Florida. Kyle Gray, creative lead at EA Tiburon, was in the end zone to receive...Pocket Gamer: We're confused. Are there lots of old English gentlemen in Orlando?
Kyle Gray: Haha. I couldn't say. I hear Hatsworth has a cousin there.Can you explain how the idea for the game came about?
It all started with a pack of puzzle-blocking-dropping monkeys in a little prototype I made called Monkey Business. At the time I was trying to make something I hadn't seen on the DS before - a game that used both screens for gameplay.
Also, growing up, I was weaned on a heavy amount of British stereotypes so the idea of a tea-drinking Britishism-spouting gentleman was a no-brainer.
Oh, and for some reason giant robots entered prominently into the scene, but you really can't go wrong with giant robots. I'm not even quite sure where that came from - probably Japan.Why do you think Hatsworth will appeal to casual DS gamers?
For one thing, he's a humorous and quirky character, and all of the bosses have unique personalities, which are funny as well.
Since the game was designed exclusively for DS, we were able to give players a unique gameplay experience that they won't have seen before. The two screens allowed for the two genres of gaming [match-3 and 2D platformer], while the most appealing part is how they are intertwined.
We've also designed the game in a fashion that's easy for casual gamers to pick up and play, but has the depth and complexity that experienced gamers look for.How much of an influence was Puzzle Quest?
There were a few games that were an inspiration but really Henry Hatsworth was born from the series of flash prototypes I made.Can you explain how the interaction works between the two gameplay elements?
The game is split between the two screens. On the top screen, the player controls Hatsworth, manoeuvring him through the world using the B button to jump and Y and A buttons to attack. But with a quick tap of the X button, the player is able to effortlessly switch between screens.
In the lower puzzle screen, the goal is to remove any puzzle enemies or activate power-ups by matching three blocks of the same colour. These can be swapped horizontally using the B button.How difficult has it been to balance these two elements?
The team has been constantly balancing the game to make sure the player doesn't get overwhelmed by both screens simultaneously.
We found early on that the savviest players were the ones who figured out the puzzle is a resource - there to help Hatsworth when he needs it.
To that end we tried to add little cues to let the player know when they need to drop into the puzzle: all enemies and items drop into the puzzle, for instance, and there's even a small alarm that sounds when an enemy is about to escape back into the top screen.Is it the case that the better player you are, the less time you'll spend in the match-3 part of the game?
The beauty of the game is players can make it what they want. Some people plow through the platformer, using the puzzle as maintenance, and some people love the match-3 and spend lots of time down there, keeping the puzzle low and clean.
However, as you advance in the game, you find that you need to use the puzzle strategically to power your platformer. Once you get really deep in the game, it's extremely hard to beat some enemies and bosses without utilising the puzzle to the max.What is Super Exciting Robot Juice and why is it super and exciting?
Also known as Tea Time - when you fill up your super meter twice, you can don a giant, indestructible yellow robot suit. Again, used strategically, it can help you get past difficult enemies and bosses. As the game goes along, your robot suit gets additional power ups. The question is really, why not?How big is the team and what have been the main development challenges?
The size of the core development team is unique for EA. We currently have a tight knit team including our executive producer, lead designer, level designer, lead programmer, tools programmer, art director, lead animator, and me - the creative lead.
The challenges mostly revolved around the issue of manpower. Since we are so tight knit, everyone knows what needs to be done and what is missing, but we lack the numbers to execute everything in a timely manner.
The team is passionate however, so even if we haven't managed to get EVERYTHING done in a timely manner, it still gets done.
This game has been a labour of love for everyone; we're all very excited about its release.Do you have any plans to bring Henry Hatsworth to other platforms?
We're just focused on making the game a great experience on the DS.Thanks to Kyle for his time. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure is due to be released in Europe on 20 March.
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