Can Hudson Soft make working hard and earning a day’s pay on the Wii fun?
How ironic that in the midst of one the worst economic downturns the world has ever seen, Hudson Soft has released a game all about working hard, earning money, and buying all of your heart’s desires. Mini-game collections are a dime a dozen on the Wii, so it’s a good thing that the title is very solid and creative despite its present warts.
Help Wanted tells the story of two children, Tom and Maya, their senile grandfather Gramps, and their family, who loves shopping for things on TV. After Gramps realizes that the comet he discovered one night is really a deadly meteor on a collision course with Earth, Tom and Maya decide to do something about it. They decide to participate in odd jobs and save enough money to buy a Transformowatch and stop this threat once and for all.
The title was developed by Hudson Soft, known by Nintendo fans as the developers of the famed Mario Party series. Those who have played said titles will see some gameplay similarities in Help Wanted, despite its different presentation and theme.
Help Wanted’s main mode is “The Employment Office”. It's the game’s main single-player mode and where the story is developed. The player is given a week with six working days and one day off to prevent the arrival of the meteor. Using the character’s computer in his or her room, you can go online and participate in one of the available job offerings, take the day off, spend time with the family, or, most importantly, watch the TV Shopping Channel and buy items that will enhance your performance at any specific job. You can also buy new uniforms unlock new jobs and each day there will be special items that will either damage the meteor or delay its arrival by a set number of days.
Like in Mario Party, there’s an element of strategy and luck involved in Help Wanted. When you wake up in the morning, you are sometimes greeted by an event that affects your performance. For example, a well-intentioned family member might buy you an overpriced support item, forcing you to pay them a great deal of money from your hard earned cash, or he might give you an item that gives you good luck. You can even participate in employment opportunities that pay you triple the regular salary if you are able to meet the established conditions (such as surpassing your previous score or getting a perfect rating). It definitely keeps the player interested and guessing as to what may happen next.
The strategy comes in the decision of what to do during the day. As already mentioned the key element is working part time jobs and earning enough money to buy the Transformowatch. But the meteor doesn’t stop its collision course while this is going on. The players must keep note of the in-game events or else the game penalizes them for not acting as quickly as possible. Even taking the day off and doing some shopping can turn things around in unexpected ways. And like in Mario Party, even the surest of things can go wrong.
Outside of story mode, there are two additional game modes. Employment Battle is Help Wanted’s multiplayer mode. Up to two players can compete in 15 of the 50 jobs available. The available options within the multiplayer include Free-For-All, Goal Money (in which you set a goal to aim for), Total Money (where you set the number of bouts the player wants to play) and last but not least is Wins (in which you set a number of wins for the player to achieve). Finally, there’s Career Fair, a practice mode where you can go practice the jobs before you take them on in the story mode.
Help Wanted is in essence a mini-game collection. But despite the genre being so abundant on the Wii, Hudson Soft has done a very good job of presenting the mini-games under a fresh theme and with unique gameplay ideas. The storyline might not be Pulitzer quality, but manages to entertain in its Saturday morning anime aesthetic, and it even pays tribute to other games such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The jobs are also quite inventive in their implementation. If you believe that something as mundane as the job of an interpreter, a cameraman, or even an interviewer would never make fun videogame activities, then Help Wanted have a thing or two to say to you.
But despite its strong assets, like with any mini-game collections there are some flaws, mainly related to the controls and the quality of some of the jobs. For the most part the controls work. The most basic Wii functions, such as pointing with the Wii Remote and controlling your character with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, work well. But the games that require precise twisting can be troublesome due to how sensitive the motion controls are. Jobs that require precise movements of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk also have issues. Even if you master the controls, considering that this title tries to be inviting to everyone the developers should have fine tuned them a little more.
The story mode can also get repetitive, even though it attempts to liven up the pace with random story events. Players are likely to stop playing once they have seen enough of the game due to the repetition. The Employment Battle mode works well as a multiplayer mode, but with only 15 jobs available and only 2-player support, it’s quite weak despite its honorable efforts.
In the end, Help Wanted is easily one of the more interesting mini-game collections on the Wii. Its flaws prevent it from being truly special, but the core mechanics and presentation of games make it one to watch for, especially if you enjoy any of Hudson Soft’s multiplayer/mini-games on the Wii or any other gaming platform.