|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Irem||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 7, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
a Big Hammer
by Cole Smith
Our diminutive hero is literally hammering home his message to the evil corporation that has invaded his 'hood. Gen is a carpenter. His tool and weapon of choice is a large hammer that he employs to eliminate the threat of the construction company that is overtaking his town. Throughout the game, Gen will change his occupation resulting in the use of different weapons, ones specific to each particular discipline. For example, when Gen becomes a professional ballplayer, he will wield a baseball bat. As a DJ, he will bash foes with a large ghetto blaster. It sounds like fun, and it is, but the good times are in short supply, as this game itself is short, and the gameplay repetitive.
Hammerin' Hero is a novelty game. It's a traditional side-scroller with the requisite platforming and boss battles. It's done very well for the most part. The presentation is excellent, and the mechanics are good despite some slowdown. It's difficult in places, somewhat overly difficult I might add, which extends the perceived length of the game artificially. Targeting a younger demographic, Hammerin' Hero awkwardly straddles the fence, as it tries to be simple and entertaining while attempting to humor the hardcore market with tough boss battles and swarming enemies. The problem this poses is that it will frustrate the young, casual gamer, while the simplicity and repetitive nature of the gameplay will alienate hardcores within a half hour. You can't be everything to everybody.
Gen reminds me of a stout, LEGO figure. In fact, all of the characters are short and squat with oversized heads. The graphic style is pure anime but it's done exceptionally well with different and diverse levels, although there are only a dozen of them. The worlds are colorful and well detailed with layered scrolling backgrounds that give it a 3D look. Camera angles also shift synchronously to provide different perspectives, helping to add more dimension to this 2D side-scroller.
Control-wise the game couldn't be more simple. You have two basic attacks: strong and weak. As long as you're pressing the attack button at the right time, you'll have little problem clearing the enemy from your path; the hammer swings and the enemy falls. Just before the whole hammer thing becomes "so ten-minutes ago," Gen becomes capable of picking up a new weapon as he changes his occupation. Aside from the previously mentioned weapons and occupations, Gen will also flay a massive fish as a sushi chef, wield an anchor as a deep-sea diver, and swing a nightstick as a Man in Black. In addition to these weapons, there are also some punches and kicks that can be administered. A super attack is also part of your arsenal, but it can only be used once or twice in a level.
Levels include an amusement park, sports arena, restaurant, apartment building, TV studio, a beach, and a haunted house. Checkpoints are fairly generous. The levels aren't huge but they can be tough, especially since you have to defeat the boss with your limited allotment of lives. Sure, you'll start at the last checkpoint if you die, but when you've run out of lives, you'll have to repeat the level from the beginning.
By eating his bento lunch prepared by his potential girlfriend, Gen can transform into one of his professions in one of the levels. You can only change one time for each level. Unlockables, collectibles, and special power-ups keep things interesting. You can acquire special ingredients for your bento lunch by knocking enemies and other items into the background and harvesting the residual goodies. This is accomplished by hitting the Triangle attack button instead of the main attack button. You'll also receive items for your trophy case, such as souvenir hammers, enemy's documents, and letters of recognition for helping change people's moods from bad to good.