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Hammerin’ Hero – hands-on

Just when you thought side-scrollers were a thing of the past, Atlus brings it back with its ultra-addictive, action-packed upcoming PSP release, Hammerin’ Hero. You get to play as the young carpenter-protagonist, Genzo Tamura, who is on a mission to stop the Kuromoku-gumi from their evil carpentry practices. The game is full of various stages to complete, each with its own boss to defeat. And though the stages are pretty short, they are full of fun collectibles and enough incentive to keep the game going. We’ve played through a good chunk and we gotta tell ya – it’s been pretty hard to put down.

The gameplay itself is simple. You have to get through each stage and kill any enemies in your way until you get to the boss using really only five basic moves: light attack, heavy attack, special attack, jump and crouch. You get a score at the end of each stage based on a number of factors, including how quickly you’ve completed the stage, how many special attacks you’ve used and how many times you died before completion.

Though you start off with Gen wielding an oversized hammer, no surprise given the game’s title, you eventually unlock new jobs with almost every stage completed. Each job has its own weapon and special attack. For instance, with the DJ job, you can whack enemies with a boombox, and with the Slugger job, you can send enemies flying at the swing of a baseball bat. So yes, you’re still mostly just clubbing things, but it’s good fun.

Before you start each stage, you can visit your childhood friend, Kanna, who will make you a bento lunch. Different bentos give Gen the ability to change to different jobs in the middle of a stage. Ask Kanna to make you a random bento, and you can get a variety of ability-boosters and score multipliers. Ingredients for bentos can be collected from boxes and enemies throughout the stages, as well as power-ups and other beneficial surprises.