Publisher: Hudson Entertainment
Developer: Hudson Soft
Release Date: May 12, 2009
Help Wanted is a tough nut to crack in terms of actually defining it. It's one part simulation, one part mini-game and one part collecting. To create a new word by combining all three terms, it's a siminicol. Here's the basic premise: You have to save Earth by accepting different jobs to save up enough money to stop an impending meteor collision. So I guess it's a siminicol meets "Deep Impact," minus Morgan Freeman.
If we skip past the premise for a second, you're essentially taking on 50 fun little jobs. Just off the top of my head, I was a babysitter, a farmer, a dentist and a firefighter. The good news for the instant gratification crowd is that each job performs as a mini-game, and each one only takes a few minutes to complete. With fishing, for example, you'll flick the Wii Remote to cast your net and then reel it back in. It's fun, simple and pretty entertaining. The bad news is that you have to repeat many jobs simply to build up more money, which, in addition to the purpose of saving the planet, you'll use to buy new items to unlock additional jobs. It's not necessarily a bad thing because some games you'll want to play more than once to get a perfect score or to build up funds, but some of the mini-games absolutely get repetitive.
Let's look a little more into the actual meat of the gameplay. In the game, the world is in danger because of a meteor's impending crash, and apparently only you and your grandpa can help. The best way to help is by taking on enough jobs to save up money to buy disaster prevention goodies from the local television shopping show. Each job essentially takes up one day of the calendar, and if you're not working, you can go shopping to unlock trophies, collectibles and even more jobs.
Help Wanted is the kind of game that really only exists to take advantage of the Wii controls, which is what I really look forward to on this platform. Anybody can port a game to the Wii and slap on some generic motion controls and accelerometer features, but a very small subset of games really pushes things further. Help Wanted falls into the good category, along with titles like Raving Rabbids 2, Monster Lab and the gold standard, Wii Sports. Help Wanted's not perfect, but it's pretty darn close. There were only a few mini-games where my movement wasn't recorded or interpreted as I intended. Maybe it was extra flailing on my part, or maybe it was just a glitch, but generally speaking, the game is solid when it comes to controls.
OK, so a meteor is hurtling toward the planet, and you're saving up money, but don't think you can just play firefighter all day and rack up the cash. Help Wanted presents a day-to-day update in the game, complete with a little calendar to let you know of the fateful final day. Different jobs will be available during any given week. Some will be for lower pay than others, some mystery jobs will be available for double the pay, and other times you'll be presented with a challenge to earn more than you did from a previous job or day (hence the repetition of certain job challenges). Lest you worry about earning enough money in time, you'll find that the game helpfully has random events that postpone the meteor's impact date. Without spoiling anything, let's just say that there is even more to do beyond saving the world from the meteor.
In your game calendar, along with updates about the meteor, you'll get a bunch of random events that spring up, well, randomly. Some are good, and some are bad. One day, for example, a burglar showed up and swiped some of my cash (bad), and a week later my grandparents showed up and gave me a few extra dollars (good). It helps increase the depth of the game, for what it is. That way, you're not just grinding on playing dentist or superhero all day, every day. It's these little distractions, coupled with the occasional shopping trips during your working downtime, that help extend the single-player game beyond that of just a mini-game platformer. The only positive thing I can say about the mini-game repetition is that as you play the same job over and over — babysitter, for example — you'll "rank up" in the career as you improve, eventually becoming a professional. It's a nice incentive for you to play the same job multiple times. The difficulty increases, but so does the pay.
Outside of the single-player "career," there is a multiplayer mode that functions similarly, where it challenges multiple players against a set of jobs to see who can make the most money. It's not as lengthy or as detailed as the single-player aspect of the game, but it's definitely enjoyable for a quick pick-up game that doesn't require tons of advanced knowledge or lengthy build-up. Help Wanted is the kind of game that I consider a "10-minute game" — something that you can throw in the Wii and play for a quick 10 minutes while killing time. It doesn't require elaborate save points or having to grind a lot of time or effort into. It's the very definition of casual game for casual players.
The graphics for Help Wanted are decidedly Wii-esque and have that Cooking Mama look and feel. I suppose that can be good or bad, depending on your preferences. The only complaint I had with the graphics was in the font used in the job titles and on-screen updates. It looked clunky, outdated and forced into many of the menus and windows. Audio-wise, it's not stellar, so don't expect full musical scores or in-depth sounds outside of some basic effects within the mini-games. I don't feel that it detracts from anything, but it's certainly one of the more lacking aspects of the title. The multiplayer addition is a nice touch for rounding out the title as a fun party game, but it certainly won't topple titles like Rabbids or Mario Party. Given the lack of quality motion titles and siminicol games (part simulation, part mini-game and part collecting), Help Wanted is a nice addition to one's game collection.
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