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Happy Hammerin' - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Happy Hammerin'

WiiWare | GAMEBRIDGE | 1 Player / 2-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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24th December 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

I was quite pleased when GAMEBRIDGE decided to bring this game overseas from the Japanese catalogue. Sure, Whack-a-Mole has been around for ages, but the unique approach to reviving this arcade classic is what first drew me to it, even in spite of the silly name choice. And after having spent time with it, I can say that it's a fun game for a very reasonable price.

    Happy Hammerin' includes three different gameplay options: Mole Adventure, Mole Marathon, and Party Battle. The first mode can be played as a solo option or with a friend. Essentially, you'll encounter a series of backdrops that will either be moving or at a stand-still. Environments are centered on one of four different themes: Jungle, Space, Japan and Horror. And within each area are a series of atmospheric elements that make up the different stages. Mole characters will pop up from just about every corner, hiding in bushes, piloting UFO's, or coming up from behind screen doors. You'll need to act quickly and do your best to get all of the targets in question.

    Aiming your Wii Remote at the screen during gameplay will control a rubber hammer that you can use to eliminate the moles by shaking downwards. It's as simple as that. Each stage can be played on three different difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, and Hard. Players who want to be challenged will find that moles act faster with less time to react, meaning you'll just need to be even faster. If you take too long, targets will disappear and you'll not only lose your combo, but you'll also forfeit any chance of obtaining a Gold medal. Normally, though, medals aren't really difficult to acquire.

up is Mole Marathon, the mode that most accurately represents the inspirations the game takes its roots from. You have 5 lives to try to whack as many moles as you can before getting a Game Over. With each level up, 3 new holes will be added for you to manage, until it reaches a point where the screen is full of holes for moles to pop out of. Points are awarded based on your reaction time, and building up a chain of successful hits is crucial if you hope to earn an impressive score. From time to time, you'll encounter a series of golden moles which appear one after the other in quick succession, awarding you bonus points if you whack them. This option can be fun to test your reflexes, but little more beyond that.

    Finally, Party Battle is a multiplayer competition that can be played with up to 4 different people simultaneously. There are two different sub-modes to choose from: Colours Mode and Numbers Mode. The first one plays like a game of cards where you make a hand by hitting coloured moles. Depending on the kind of hand you create (whether it be a pair, 3-of-a-Kind or 4-of-a-Kind), you'll inflict damage on other players. In fact, if you manage to make a match with the same colour as an opponent's hammer, they'll receive more than the usual harm. And making no match at all will recover your meter by a bit. There are also item boxes, bombs and Rainbow Moles that act as Wild Cards. When you get a group together, it can be a lot of fun with everyone trying to think quickly to save their skins whilst also trying to get certain people out of the game.

Doing well in this game is rewarded in the way of new titles that act as achievements. You'll earn new ranks for performing such tasks as hitting a certain number of moles, or not missing any targets. But if you'd much rather earn bragging rights by seeing how good you are to other players, the game comes included with online leaderboard support. This gives expert players more of an incentive to keep playing on their own when multiplayer matches aren't possible. This high-score focus pulls the package up, especially since the average player shouldn't have much trouble earning all Gold medals.

    Overall, the game has a playful art style that looks decent. When moles are bonked on the head, their eyes turn from circles to X's. The environments are cartoony yet simple in their execution and design. There's a variety of music tracks, all of which suit the feel of the mode or stage you find yourself playing. The game allows you to assign your profile with your Mii for tracking high-scores, and to customize a cheerful in-game character that shows up on select menus. On seldom occasions, your cursor may appear erratic from constantly swinging the Wii Remote. When this happens, it would be good to press the Plus Button to pause the game, allowing you to re-align your hammer properly. But honestly, I didn't find myself losing control of it very often.

    All in all, Happy Hammerin' is a great game for the family. There's a limited sense of replayability for solo players but really, the focus of this release is the Party aspect. And so, if you're looking for a multiplayer game to play with relatives, I recommend you give this a purchase.

23/30 - Good

Gameplay 7/10 - Pretty straight-forward in its execution, offers slightly-different takes on the standard Whack-a-Mole formula
Presentation 7/10 - Simple cartoony visuals that go along with the playful art style, decent selection of music
Enjoyment 4/5 - Adventure mode is fun to play even on your own, multiplayer is good fun also especially the Party Battle option, great for the family
Extra Content 5/5 - High scores and medals to keep you motivated, contains a good number of modes and options, online leaderboards, good value for $ 

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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