Monday, 17 June 2013

Classic Game - Henry's House (Atari 800)

Honey, I Shrunk The Kid

Being tiny must be difficult for anyone, but especially for the Prince's son. For Henry, heir to the throne (at some point down the line) has foolishly being drinking strange potions found in the palace laboratory and now finds himself a mere 6 inches tall. There is a lesson to be learnt here kids! So, Henry sets off to find the antidote - which would surely be kept with the shrinking potion itself, but that is just nitpicking. We all know that story-lines are utterly irrelevant for any 8-bit platform game involves jumping over teapots, kettles and the the like. 

We are in classic single screen 8-bit platformer territory here. Each screen consists of multiple platforms to navigate and items to collect. Falling too far kills you, along with brushing against anything else for that matter. To use the exit door and finish the room, Henry must collect every item on screen, as well as a special item (usually a key) that appears after reaching a certain part of the room.

It's predictably fiendish stuff, with pixel perfect jumps regularly required, as well as spot on timing to avoid moving hazards. What Henry's House has over Manic Miner and its ilk, though, is that special items cause environmental changes and new hazards to appear – for example, nabbing a plug in the second room drains a pool of water, allowing you to drop in and grab the goodies contained within. It's extremely addictive stuff, with a just-one-more-go appeal that will keep you coming back again and again to master each room. Thankfully, when your three lives are kaput, you can continue from the room you died in, making completing Henry's House a feasible prospect (unlike something like Jet Set Willy). There are only 8 rooms in the game - with the game looping back to stage one upon completion - but each is a challenging prospect and will take many (many) goes to master.

The graphics are chunky and colourful and the rooms nicely designed and full of quirky enemies and objects to avoid. Indeed, it is actually an exciting prospect to see the next room and what novelty shenanigans are contained within. Things such as a working cuckoo clock, an over-active toaster, or bouncing teddy bears. There is little music to speak of, bar a short rendition of Rule Britannia that plays on the title screen and between rooms, but this suits the game to a tee as music (unless especially catchy) would probably drive you nuts.

I was very pleasantly surprised with Henry's House. I have had little experience playing Atari 800 games, but having recently tried out a multitude of platformers and maze games, it has opened my eyes to a wonderful little machine. This Atari iteration also manages to completely destroy the shoddy C64 version, so I am keen to try out more games on this platform.

Overall, Henry's House is a jolly little game that, despite being very challenging, is worth persevering with as it contains some nice ideas and enjoyable gameplay.

Title : Henry's House

Developer : Chris Murray
Publisher  : Mastertronic
Year :         1987
System :     Atari 800