A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game's hero is full of comic mischief and goes around whacking enemies on the head with a mallet that can be made bigger via a powerup. In defense, enemies do try to kill him first. Hammerin' Hero spins and falls to the ground when he's hit (although there's no blood). There are occasional references to tobacco (cigars) and alcohol (billboards for fake products). The game is supposed to be irreverently funny.
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What's it about?
He's short, stocky, and ready for almost any job. HAMMERIN' HERO, stars Gen, a transformed carpenter who carries a large mallet and loves his bento box sushi. While the game is a fairly short Japanese import rejiggered by Atlus for U.S. audiences, it is a graphically rich 2-D side-scroller. As Gen, you don't just fight against enemies as you take on jobs like a baseball player, DJ, and sushi chef; but you also fight against corporate evil. Your big nemesis is Kuromoku, a mustachioed tycoon, who treats his employees badly and wants to buy all the houses in town for his dastardly plan of domination.
You'll choose one of four levels of difficulty. Gen jumps, hits vertically and horizontally, and can use his bento box food and a combo of buttons to start a power move. You can get Gen's bento box in the kitchen, served by a nervous but ever-affable cook. And Gen can change jobs or locations on the map via the main menu screen. You can also play online coop with a friend through a wireless hub.
Is it any good?
Real love must have been used for the graphics which almost seem three-dimensional. Not only can you see a roller coaster zip in the distance while you're battling on a Ferris Wheel, but you'll see expressions change and hear the screams of a couple when you jump on one of the Ferris Wheel's cars. While this side-scroller's story isn't deep or even that understandable, you'll enjoy the variety of jobs. These include a deep sea diver and a baseball player, and with your bat, you can hit enemies into the stands like a home run superstar.
There are a few minor challenges with Hammerin' Hero. Load times are long. Disconcertingly, there's a short lag time between the time when the level loads and when Gen is able to move. Also, sometimes when Gen hits an enemy, he gets killed as well (it really should be one or the other). Although the most enjoyable move is the horizontal smash (which lofts an enemy into the horizon), this move doesn't seem as quick and accurate as the vertical smash. Yet these are minor quibbles to which players can adjust. Overall, the variations on classic platformer gameplay show some undeniable ingenuity that translates into 12 levels of fun.
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