Hammerin' Hero Hands-On

We smash the living daylights out of pretty much anything that moves in this wacky side-scroller.


As a title for a game in which you can unlock a variety of new occupations, Hammerin' Hero isn't entirely accurate. Yes, you'll begin this action-heavy side-scroller as a hammer-wielding carpenter on a quest to literally smash corporate greed, but the game's main draw is that you'll soon be crushing evil industrialists under such guises as a sushi chef, a professional baseball player, and a deep-sea diver. If that all sounds a little strange, it's because Hammerin' Hero is precisely that. But fear not: We've been spending some time with Hammerin' Hero in an effort to clear things up a bit before this PSP game's April 7 release.

Smash enemies to bits with your boombox while playing as a DJ.
Smash enemies to bits with your boombox while playing as a DJ.

The eccentric storyline goes like this: You play as a carpenter named Gen, a young man whose trade allows him to craft buildings with a ludicrously huge hammer. But when an evil corporation led by a man named Kuromoku comes rolling into town threatening to smash Gen's residential neighborhood in order to build more profitable structures, Gen takes justice into his own hands--by running and jumping from left to right smashing every bad guy he can. The Japanese neighborhoods that make up the game's environments are filled with all manner of evil construction workers, evil bulldozers, evil corporate helicopters, and so on. And your job is to smash them using a simple control scheme that allows you to jump, light attack, and heavy attack.

Every few levels, you'll unlock a new occupation that lets you do that job in a slightly different way. As a deep-sea diver, you can take out enemies from afar using an anchor on a chain, for example, while a DJ can toss records at people. More up-close-and-personal options include taking a full home-run swing with a baseball bat as a ballplayer or slapping enemies with a giant fish as a sushi chef. You commit to one occupation before the level starts, but you can visit your girlfriend and have her make you a magical bento box that gives you the ability to transform into another occupation midlevel, but only if you've picked up the necessary ingredients (for example, a tuna or a salmon) throughout previous levels.

The action in Hammerin' Hero is quick and challenging. The levels are short but are packed with a number of bosses for you to take on. And the environments are delightfully absurd, too. They start out ordinary enough, with levels taking place in Japanese residential neighborhoods and amusement parks, but eventually you'll get to a place like a live baseball game that requires you to fight your way through a demonic pitching machine and a spike-covered catcher who shoots missiles from his chest. Making things even more hectic is that you'll almost always see frantic civilians attempting to run from harm's way. The overall look of the game is chaotic, quirky, and thoroughly Japanese.

Hammerin' Hero is being brought to North America by Atlus. It may not fall into the strategic role-playing genre most people know the publisher for, but it's every bit as eccentric as their previous work. You can expect to see Hammerin' Hero released for the PSP on April 7.

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