Help Wanted


posted 8/17/2009 by Dave Gamble
other articles by Dave Gamble
Platforms: Wii
So, times are tough. We all know it, and we all have our own personal challenges. Unemployment is approaching double digits and no relief is in sight. Even those that still have jobs are worried, and many of those folks, like myself, are worried because things are changing so very rapidly. It seems as if the ideas of debate, planning, and deliberation have been tossed out the window in favor of cramming massive new entitlements through Congress before we can collectively catch our breath from the preceding trillion dollar boondoggles. Debt is piling up faster than a sane mind can comprehend, and anyone standing in the way is trampled by a stampeding media that is more than ready to demonize those advocating a more measured approach.

There are certain industries that are targeted for vilification for alleged greed and malfeasance, and I have the misfortune to work in one of them. What can one do to prepare for the potential loss of one's job? Socking away money whenever possible helps, but that has to be tempered with the understanding that the inevitable inflation that follows unprecedented levels of deficit spending will erode the value of that nest egg mercilessly. No, the only thing to do is prepare to find a new line of work.

Which brings us to “Help Wanted,” a new game for the Wii. With the tag line “Saving The World, One Job At a Time,” it seems to have a messianic quality to it, although we've become somewhat inured to that kind of thing lately. In any event, desperate times require desperate measures and it also promises exposure to “50 Wacky Jobs.” One cannot afford to be too choosy, right? Now I will grant you that at my ever-advancing age things described as “wacky” don't hold the appeal for me that they once did, but it bears repeating: desperate times require desperate measures. Certainly at least one of the jobs would be suitable for me, so it was worth a look, right?

Well, no. Not so much. Help Wanted is a collection of what are essentially the mini-games that you would bypass with a shrug if you were to find them included in any other game. Adding insult to injury, the mediocrity of the games is overshadowed by the incredible awfulness of the surrounding story line. At the end of the day, Help Wanted comes across as a game developed by five year olds, for five year olds. There would be nothing wrong with that, of course, if it was a game that a five year old would enjoy, but I don't think that's the case. There are life lessons to be learned from the game, but they unfortunately are along the lines of “grandparents are mean and quite possible insane” and “your co-workers are idiots.” Seriously, let your kids discover these essential truths on their own, once they're old enough to understand. These are not lessons that need to be rushed into.

Another lesson to be learned is that some jobs are easy, some are hard, and some are fun. That's actually a pretty good thing for kids to know – if you can make a living doing something you enjoy, go for it. The problem here, though, is that the games are short. The ones that are actually entertaining don't last long enough. Naturally, the inverse is true in that it's a blessing when it comes to the ones that aren't any fun at all, and there are a few of those included as well. Even the short game play periods would be bearable if it wasn't for the time spent between games navigating through the storyline. It's also somewhat frustrating that jobs have to be unlocked through the purchase of the applicable uniform from a TV shopping network. I'm an instant gratification kind of guy – I learned that when I was, well, a five year old.

While there are some entertaining moments to be found with Help Wanted, it's $30 that can be better spent elsewhere.
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