Hammerin' Hero's title leaves very little to the imagination. As a heroic young man named Gen, you wield a novelty-sized giant hammer and fend off waves of humans, robots, and anything else stupid enough to stand in your way. If only an adjective stressing how utterly forgettable your adventure is could have been added to the title, it could have perfectly captured this cartoonish adventure. Although you change into a variety of unique outfits during your quest, your different weapons don't change the combat much, making the game too bland and uninspired to entertain you for long. It can be fun to bash your angry pursuers for a few hours, but by the time the credits abruptly roll, you'll be hard pressed to remember anything that happened in this cute, unremarkable platformer.
The most enjoyable aspect of Hammerin' Hero is the ability to unlock different occupations. You start out as a humble carpenter, using your mallet of justice to strike down people who dare oppose you. The wackier jobs you earn as the game progresses don't deviate from the bash-bash-bash gameplay, but they offer a silly distractions from the monotonous combat. The stinky sushi chef uses a rock-hard fish to club angry attackers, while the sharp-dressed Man in Black relies on his trusty baton and blistering-fast kicks. There are 10 different costumes to unlock, and you can play through most of the 12 levels in whatever style you choose. The one exception is the underwater level, where you must don the oxygen-giving suit of the deep-sea diver. Although fighting underwater is different from fighting through a TV station or on a merry-go-round, the slight variety actually takes away from the fun. You move so painfully slow in the blue abyss that it lessens the simple joy of thumping your enemies in the face.
The platforming portions of your quest are rudimentary, so the focus is on the combat. You have two different attacks--a weak swing and a powerful one--as well as a super move you can pull off only a few times per level. Although your move set is limited, you won't have any problem mowing down enemies, because they are completely devoid of artificial intelligence. They weakly swing their weapons or toss slow-moving projectiles your way, but their telegraphed attacks are easy to avoid and they take only a few hits before they fall down. The bosses are far more interesting, and though they are just as easy to dispatch, they are clever enough to serve as worthwhile rewards for clearing a level. For instance, at the end of the amusement park level, you grow to mammoth size to take on a Godzilla-like balloon. You can see his tail swipe coming from a mile away, but there is a certain joy in taking down this inflatable beast.
The combat doesn't change much from the beginning of the game, but the quirks in each level give them each a unique appeal. Bystanders will frequently stand in the background, begging you for help. If you can bash the speech bubbles coming from their mouths, they will jump into the foreground and help you finish off foes. It's pretty amusing to have a few angry amusement park goers chuck soda bottles at the hulking robot ruining their fun or an umpire escorting a surly Mr. Met look-alike from the baseball diamond. There are also food items to harvest from fallen enemies that can be combined afterward into tasty recipes, souvenirs to collect for completing certain level requirements, and letters of thanks for helping distressed denizens. These touches add some personality to the adventure, giving you a reason to mindlessly bash through another wave of untrained attackers. The multidisc multiplayer has two players race to finish a level the quickest, but because you can't interact with each other, it doesn't add much to the experience.
The charming visuals add a lot to the adventure. Unlocking the outfits is fun and spices up the action a bit, even if the combat doesn't drastically change. The disc jockey, for instance, has a smooth walk that shows not only that he isn't going to take guff from his attackers, but that he's going to dispatch them in style. The backgrounds are colorful and enticing, with neat 3D touches that let you interact with objects that seem out of your reach initially. Some of the levels are also quite clever. As a baseball player, you run around a diamond. Your angry opponents slide at you with their metal cleats, and when you connect with a powerful swing, they fly into the stadium lights, shattering them like a scene from The Natural. When you reach home plate, an overgrown umpire stands in your way, and you have to bash him with your bat, acting out the fantasy of every disenchanted baseball player. It's a shame more levels don't follow this design, though; most of them are as bland as the combat.
The cute aesthetics and charming costumes in Hammerin' Hero go a long way toward masking the inadequate gameplay, but it's hard to ignore just how mindless and repetitive the combat is. Although bashing enemies with your bat or fish can be fun for a while, there isn't enough variety to make this interesting for long. A few of the levels offer some unique twists, and a couple of bosses are quite silly, but the gameplay is mostly unremarkable. Hammerin' Hero has a few interesting moments, but it's ultimately an uninspired, forgettable platformer.