The Ill Communication

Work Time Fun

Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc.
Publisher: D3 Publisher
N.A. Release: October 17, 2006

Box Quote: "WTF is Super Fun Job Game!"

It was inevitable that minigames would eventually show up on the PSP.  It was a popular fad during the first half of the 2000s for handheld games, so it only makes sense that the trend would continue on Sony’s handheld console which came out in '04 and '05 in Japan and North America respectively.  Nintendo saw its share of minigames with titles like WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgames! and Rhythm Tengoku for the GBA.  It continued with the DS when games such as Feel the Magic: XY/XX, The Rub Rabbits!, and Rhythm Heaven debuted.

Not implying minigames are a bad thing.  In fact, they make an incredible amount sense for portable gaming as they are a collection of extremely small games that normally take a few seconds to accomplish and involve minimal input from the player.  And of course it fits well with a culture that’s increasingly known to have ADHD, so it's the perfect companion for gamers who fit this mold (or it could be the opposite where they helped warped kids with their vulnerable brains by developing their minds with shorter and shorter attention spans).

2006 is when the PSP got what is probably its weirdest minigame title in its library.  I'm talking about Work Time Fun.

Needing money, you seek out part-time jobs by going to the job placement office where you can pick from one of four available jobs, where each one is a minigame.  Every job includes a title screen, a "how to play" menu that explains the rules and controls, and the game itself.  When you complete a job or when you give up, you are presented with a check for your hard earned work.  But with the average earning per gig being less than a dollar, you'll feel less than stellar when you collect the check.

So, what do you do with your hard earned cash?  Why you spend it, of course!  And in the most useless way possible by blowing it all on capsule toy machines.  There are tiers of capsule machines where each tier increases in price per play.  The lowest are the bronze machines where it's $1 dollar per play.  Silver is next with $5 per play and gold being $10.  But beyond that is the highly coveted "celebrity" machine that requires $50 per play.  Yikes!  High rollers only for that one!

Most of what comes out are useless trinkets like a bouncy ball, figurines, or a fake moustache.  But every once in a while a new job can be unlocked from the capsule machines, making it the carrot and stick tactic of Work Time Fun.  And once a job is unlocked, it will begin to appear at the job placement office where you can earn money with it.  In addition to jobs, the capsule machines will spit out handy apps to use with you PSP.  Some include a world clock, a restaurant bill splitter, a flashlight (which just turns all the pixels on the screen to white), and a ramen timer, which some consider to be the best app the game has to offer.  But with the rise of smart phones, the value for these apps tanked to where they are now mere amusement pieces buried within a minigame collection for a portable gaming console.

Included is an in-game email account where fellow part-time job seekers mail you tips and tricks to help accomplish a job, but most are spam messages or your friends making fart jokes.  If you do well in a game, you can be given a title which is emailed to you.  These titles would be like a sort of achievement system within the game.  The titles are goofy things like dribbling a soccer ball a number of times before dropping it or figuring out a high volume of phone numbers from ladies you met at a bar.  In all, reading emails break up the monotony of playing the minigames.

Being on the tail end of "wacky Japan" games, WTF marks its place in time when that era of Japan dominance in video games swapped places with Western developers.  It would be the type of game where you'd have to show someone else just because of how weird it is.  No sequel followed, but there doesn’t need to be one because the game mimics real life so much that you can say the world of employment today is the true sequel.

Posted on: August 25, 2016