There are a lot of minigame collections on the Wii, but none are quite like Help Wanted: 50 Wacky Jobs. For starters, it's premise is pretty wacky. You have to save Earth from a meteor by working an assortment of odd jobs (read: minigames) in order to earn money so you can buy items from a television shopping network to postpone the meteor's impact and eventually destroy it. Every weird element becomes progressively stranger as you play the game, ensuring that the game's oddball charm holds up for a good long while. And surprisingly, Help Wanted is quite long. There is no shortage of intergalactic objects queued up to smash into Earth, and by working hard, you can level up in any of the 50 jobs and earn even more money. The result is a long-form minigame campaign, almost like the career mode in a sports game. This unique structure gives Help Wanted more longevity than many of its peers, but the exposition and activities between minigames can begin to drag. Though Help Wanted is still vulnerable to predictable pitfalls (even good minigames are fun only so many times), its robust structure and good-natured wackiness make it uniquely entertaining.
Like most teenagers living with their parents and grandparents in the suburbs, your primary concern is to save Earth from imminent peril. Your gung-ho grandpa is the only other person who seems to care much about this impending crisis, and he serves as your guide throughout the game. Through him you learn that the items needed to delay and destroy the meteor can be purchased from a television shopping network. The goofy presenters are happy to sell you a variety of merchandise, but the disaster-averting items can only be purchased with points. To earn points, you must use money to buy other items on the network, including uniforms that unlock new jobs, support items that boost your job performance, and mementos that go in your trophy hall. To earn money, you must work jobs by playing minigames. One job is one minigame that takes up one day of the in-game calendar. As the days and weeks pass, you fall into the rhythm of working and shopping, working and shopping, taking breaks occasionally to socialize with your family or to use a defensive item on the meteor. You will likely manage to destroy the meteor in a few short weeks, at which point you'll be greeted with a new threat from outer space. Back to work!
Though this cycle can get repetitive, there are a number of things that keep Help Wanted feeling fresh. First and foremost are the variety and availability of jobs. There are a whopping 50 different jobs in the game, but you can only unlock them as fast as they become available for purchase. This forces you to do some jobs more than once, introducing you to the concept of leveling up. The more money you earn in a given job, the closer you'll get to becoming a professional in that job. Pro-level jobs are tougher, but you can earn much more per day. You get a maximum nine job opportunities to choose from per day, so your favorites may not always be available. Your work week becomes a diverse mix of working brand-new jobs, leveling up in your favorite jobs, and taking the best of what's available. This helps keep you from overplaying one particular minigame, which is crucial, because like most minigames, there isn't much to them.
This isn't to say the job minigames are bad, however. Some of them are quite enjoyable. Cruising around a well-stocked patch of sea and throwing your fishing net with the Wii Remote is fun, and running around the red carpet and interviewing celebrities is oddly amusing. The minigames don't last more than a few minutes, but each represents a thoughtful slice of activity from a given profession. You'll use the remote to iron out wrinkles as a Dry Cleaner, memorize and repeat a sequence of images as a Newscaster, spook timid visitors as a Haunted House Crew member, and yank rotten teeth out as a Dentist. There is a delightful variety of things to do, but not all jobs are created equal. There are a few that suffer from control issues (Line Judge will sometimes interpret remote motions incorrectly), while others are just poorly designed (the Action Hero controls are awkward and unrewarding). Some jobs are just plain difficult, and using support items to help you out is the only way to complete them. Fortunately, problematic jobs are usually avoidable thanks to the sheer number of other opportunities.
Sometimes the number of opportunities available may dwindle, thanks to the random events that pop up throughout the work week. Some days you will oversleep, leaving only a few jobs available. Other days you may be offered a mystery job for double pay, or you may be challenged to beat your earnings from the day before. Burglars, mischievous siblings, traveling gamblers, and grandparents will make helpful (or harmful) appearances and keep your daily grind from becoming too routine. The downside to all of these entertaining interruptions is that while there are many different varieties, they aren't so diverse that you won't see plenty of repeats. In addition to these events, you'll weather a parade of unskippable notices as you progress through the game. Notices of the date changing, package deliveries, paycheck tallying, and meteor updates pad your days and can make the downtime between jobs seem a bit too long. This isn't always the case, though, and generally Help Wanted moves along at a good clip, interspersing surprises with reasonable frequency.
You'll also have to work some shopping time in to your weekly routine, because that's the only way you'll get the items you need to save the world. You can use items to delay the impact of the meteor or destroy it entirely, at which point you'll be faced with yet another doomsday object. There are a lot of threats to Earth's safety, apparently, and it will take you a long time to work through them all. Beyond the lengthy single-player campaign, Help Wanted offers some competitive multiplayer modes in which players compete to earn the most money in a particular job, or across a series of activities. These modes don't have as much charm as the single-player action does, but they are an amusing way to get a friend in on the action.
Help Wanted is a minigame collection that owes its appeal to its creative premise (the discount price doesn't hurt either). The vocationally themed minigames run the gamut from clever and enjoyable to awkward and boring. Fortunately, you can generally avoid the bad ones, and the fact that you're doing it all in an effort to save the world makes the whole endeavor more enjoyable somehow. The people you meet and the things that happen to you along the way create a bizarre sense of charm and community, which helps the game stay fresh even when you're hours into it and have already saved the world multiple times. The formula eventually does wear thin, the minigames grow tiresome, and the sometimes too-frequent interruptions can make it feel like a bit of a grind. Such are the pitfalls to which all minigame collections ultimately succumb, but Help Wanted is so courageously nutty in the face of this looming boredom that you can't help but enjoy yourself.