The Mayans were wrong and the apocalypse is here three years early. Earth is in the path of a string of decidedly large, random objects hell-bent on Earth's destruction. Our only hope rests on the withering shoulders of a decrepit grandfather and his two ambiguously gendered grandchildren. As if we weren’t screwed enough, the only way this ragtag team can save our planet is to work the 9-to-5 every day and build enough wallet fodder to buy gizmos from one of the four channels on TV. On the plus side, 75% of said channels are dedicated exclusively to selling you items that earn money and destroy objects in space.
And so begins the highly unlikely and (at times) entirely unlovable story of Help Wanted: 50 Wacky Jobs!, a minigame compilation from Hudson. Immediately, the deck is stacked against Help Wanted - an absurd story, been-there graphics, seen-that character models, and bargain pricing - all reek of another half-baked minigame collection desperate to ride the coattails of the Wii. However, love it or hate it, the game is more addictive than a tabloid filled with crack and skittles.
This is due in no small part to the minigames actually being fun. They are varied enough in scope and visuals that after 200 game days have passed, there still seems like a lot to choose from. You can be a CEO stamping legal documents one day, and the next day a farmer milking cows like there is no tomorrow. The game controls are spot on for each designated task and, despite a few duds, generally entertaining and challenging. Once you accrue enough dough, you can buy new outfits, which unlock new games, buy new support items to help you perform better in your jobs, or memorial items to fill a museum ala Animal Crossing.
Despite the fast-paced minigames and a rather straightforward shopping program, the gameplay of Help Wanted is rather staggered. Each new game day wastes several minutes to show you the same cutscenes you’ve already seen before. The rinse-and-repeat mechanics of buying objects to earn points don’t really help either. Luckily, the shortcomings in pace are countered by a sense of constant urgency in the game; after all, you’ll only have a few days to save the world as each new comet resets your doom clock to “impending.”
Help Wanted has three run-of-the-mill modes to choose from, but in the end none of them are quite as addicting or fun as playing through the single-player mode with a friend and just handing the controller back and forth.
All in all, Help Wanted: 50 Wacky Jobs! is more successful as a single-player experience, which can be seen as good or bad depending on your inclination. At times, the unnecessary story slows the pace to an almost unbearable crawl, but the constant desire to collect items and save money makes it tolerable. Ultimately you’ll end up having fun even if sometimes it feels a lot like work.
Jun 26, 2009