Patreon button  Steam curated reviews  Discord button  Facebook button  Twitter button 
3DS | AND | IOS | PC | PS4 | SWITCH | VITA | XB1 | All

Hammerin' Hero (PSP) artwork

Hammerin' Hero (PSP) review

"As proven by their cult classic Gekisha Boy, Irem knows how to make an amusing action game. The artwork is presented in a cartoony, colorful style sure to attract the bright eyes of children and nostalgic adults. The wide PSP screen is put to excellent use, providing plenty of room to maneuver while admiring the elaborate boss's antics."

Gamers with excellent memories may recall an old Irem arcade game called Hammerin' Harry. If you don't recall that one, then don't feel bad; I don't remember it either. According to hardcore gamer lore, it was a westernized version of Gen the Carpenter. North American players controlled a burly construction worker who smashed the evils of capitalism with his mighty mallet. Even though Hammerin' Hero's title makes a sly nod towards the western localization, it's actually a faithful translation of Irem's latest PSP sidescroller... so instead of managing a manly man with a hard-hat, we're controlling a Goemon-ish carpenter as he challenges the Evil Kuromoku Corporation.

The basic concept is about as simple as simple comes. Our mighty Gen stands on the left side of the screen. He walks towards the right side of the screen, jumping over obstacles and smashing enemies with his hammer as necessary. In other words, it's what we used to call a "platformer", and if it had been released back during the platformer genre's heyday -- the days of Super Mario World and Shinobi 3 -- I doubt it would have made much of an impact. Gen's limited to three attacks, he walks slowly, and most of the enemies spread throughout the game's 12 very short levels aren't particularly challenging.

That doesn't mean Hammerin' Hero isn't fun. As proven by their cult classic Gekisha Boy (aka Polaroid Pete), Irem knows how to make an amusing action game. The artwork is presented in a cartoony, colorful style sure to attract the bright eyes of children and nostalgic adults. The wide PSP screen is put to excellent use, providing plenty of room to maneuver while admiring the elaborate boss's antics, such as the evil volleyball champion who challenges Gen to a deathmatch on the beach. I defeated his scoundrelous serves by passing the ball to a lovely lady who set me up for a hammer-iffic (and blatantly illegal) spike.

All of the bosses are a joy to battle, but the normal enemies -- although nicely animated -- don't behave nearly so elaborately. Nonetheless, the game challenges players to seek out and hammer all enemies to unlock "personnel files" which reveal curious traits about each Evil Corporate Employee. For example, according to the personnel file, the robotic Black Gill has the most detailed fish AI ever. Ever!

It swims.

As the game progresses, as Gen smashes mechanical fish, titanic battleships, and devious Men In Black with his hammer, he learns new jobs, such as "sushi chef" or "baseball player", that let him smash things with his...

Big Fish!
Baseball Bat!
Powerful Laughter!
And other things!

Gen's not quite as cool as Mega Man -- he can't switch between jobs infinitely -- but his girlfriend Kanna will cook him box lunches that provide transformation power. She's such a nice girl; she even cooks after Gen's gone on dates to haunted hospitals with older women. Appropriate selection of occupation is important because, as Gen saunters through each brief level, he'll encounter a number of troubled people. Some of these people are innocent citizens, some are Kuromoku employees, and some are dogs. These troubled individuals are denoted by an "empathy bubble" that Gen can smash away with the appropriate occupation.

Or the inappropriate one. Yoshio Shinoda's one dream was to build a home for his family, so that they could all live together again. I saw his "empathy bubble", depicting a picture of a home, and I smashed it. With a baseball bat. Yoshio collapsed to the ground and grabbed my legs, wailing "MY DREAM! MY DREAM!" as tears streamed from his eyes. This slowed me down, so I wiggled the D-pad around until the sniveling fool let go.

After the level was over, Mr. Yoshio Shinoda sent me a "thank you" note. Ahem:

"Dear Dream Crusher,
My tiny dream of reuniting my family was all I held on to. I just wanted to build a good house, but I guess SOMEONE didn't want me to have that dream. Thanks for crushing my world. Now I'll go back to living for nothing. Thanks."


Since I could replay levels, I went back and tried a new approach. Instead of smashing the poor man's dreams with a baseball bat, I used the carpentry hammer to help him build a house. The ensuing thank you note was decidedly more positive. Some grateful citizens even go so far as to join your fight; enemies occasionally give up their evil ways and seek redemption.

So, in this basic platformer where Gen travels from the left side of the screen to the right, smashing things with a hammer, Gen can rejuvenate peoples' empty souls with his unique brand of tough love. It's a bit weird, but incredibly cool, and it adds a bit of longevity. Just earned a new job? Great! Go back and replay earlier levels to see if whacking those dreams with new weapons earns a different note!

This is the kind of game I'd normally play through once, but Irem has provided some nice and unusual incentives for repeat play, proving they've learned a thing or two since Gekisha Boy. And when played at harder difficulties, the already-entertaining boss fights become even more challenging and require new tactics. Hammerin' Hero isn't the rebirth of the classic platformer, but it's a charming, unusual, and genuinely witty diversion.



zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (April 07, 2009)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

More Reviews by Zigfried [+]
Attack on Titan (PlayStation 4) artwork
Attack on Titan (PlayStation 4)

Koei's latest not-a-Musou lives up to the source material.
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PlayStation 4) artwork
Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess (PlayStation 4)

Tecmo Koei continues to stake their claim on PS4 with quality software.
One Chance (PC) artwork
One Chance (PC)

One Chance is a bad game for obvious reasons. The graphics are poor, the music is repetitive, the guy walks slowly, the story is silly, player interaction is minimal, and victory is achieved through repetition instead of mastery. Its claim to fame is that you only have one chance unless you game the syst...


If you enjoyed this Hammerin' Hero review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

You must be signed into an HonestGamers user account to leave feedback on this review.

User Help | Contact | Ethics | Sponsor Guide | Links

eXTReMe Tracker
© 1998-2020 HonestGamers
None of the material contained within this site may be reproduced in any conceivable fashion without permission from the author(s) of said material. This site is not sponsored or endorsed by Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, or any other such party. Hammerin' Hero is a registered trademark of its copyright holder. This site makes no claim to Hammerin' Hero, its characters, screenshots, artwork, music, or any intellectual property contained within. Opinions expressed on this site do not necessarily represent the opinion of site staff or sponsors. Staff and freelance reviews are typically written based on time spent with a retail review copy or review key for the game that is provided by its publisher.