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WTF (Work Time Fun)

Mr. Walter Theodore Friedlander rises up early every morning to a big bowl of cereal and a tall glass of milk. He needs all the energy he can digest in preparation for what his strange line of work requires of him. His occupation? Professional oddjobber. You see, Mr. WTF doesn’t know what the day has in store for him. Forces beyond his control dictate the tasks at hand, and if he is to rake in enough money to fund for tomorrow’s bed and breakfast, he needs to be prepared for absolutely anything, even if it crosses into the borders of insanity.

This is the premise of Work Time Fun (WTF), which lends itself into a collection of weird, wacky and wild mini-games that more or less ring synonymously with the famous 3 letter, internet-slang abbreviation.

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Have you ever played a Wario Ware game before? They are essentially a mother-load of micro-games, lasting little over a few seconds each, thrown at you one after another until you fail. WTF follows a similar formula, but the difference here is that instead of 200+ activities, you have only about 40 slightly more involving ones. And rather than the comical overtones present in Wario’s wares, this game has a style that truly makes no sense whatsoever; the visuals vary from 8-bit mock-ups to Flash-like presentations to designs that look like they were drawn by the hellspawn of a woman scorned. The games, or jobs, available here speak for themselves.

A daily routine may or may not look something like this: the local wood-chopper has called in sick, and so Mr. WTF is hired in as a substitute. He begins chopping the cylinders of wood placed in front of him, but after 50 in a row the repetitiveness starts to bore the hell out of him. A cute rabbit suddenly jumps onto his chopping block, but Mr. WTF’s mind has wandered off elsewhere and the next thing he knows, he’s off looking for another employer in his maroon-stained attire.

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This is what’s asked of you in WTF. You pick from a selection of 4 jobs on offer at any one time, and you keep working it until you miss the boat, grow bored or ‘inadvertently’ kill something. Just like Mr. WTF, you may be called in to do some wood chopping, or contracted to sort out little chicks into male and female cages at the farm. If you can’t handle nature, you may decide to head over to the pen assembly line… to assemble pens. Doesn’t sound very exciting does it?

Most of the 40 activities here require nothing more than a few button presses repeated ad infinitum/nauseam, with little going on to hold one’s attention. But at least some of them are weird enough to make you go “WTF?!”

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There is an activity where you have to look through a series of pictures to determine whether a real or fake ghost resides within. Another puts you in the shoes of a traffic checker, tasked with counting the number of humans that walk past you amongst the rush of pet animals, aliens and blobs of goop. And then there’s one where you have to guess the sexy lady’s phone number, deducing the correct one through the facial responses you elicit from failed attempts (this is as hard as it is in real life). WTF indeed. Unfortunately, past the bizarre novelty of it all, the mini-games are far too basic to keep you wanting to play them for very long.

However, as always, there are a couple that are pretty good, but still not that great. Bouncer Bash puts you in the middle of a rock concert full of raving fans. As they attempt to run across the pitch and clamber onto the stage, you have to grab ‘em and fling ‘em away, perhaps tossing ‘em into other fans at a distance beyond your reach. Happy Bullets sees you assuming the role of a hitman with a sniper rifle. In a similar vein to the Silent Scope sniper’em-up titles, you zoom in on the building opposite and search for the target to be knocked off, be it a man dressed in a soccer uniform or a lady holding a tuna fish in her left hand. Definitely better than separating boy chicks from girl chicks, right? Unfortunately, these more interesting mini-games are far and few in between, and even then there still isn’t enough depth to them to keep you going for the time needed to earn enough cents.

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Yes. That’s cents, not dollars!!

The aim of the game is to make money; it’s not a free world after all. Mr. WTF puts in the hard yards for his food and lodging; you do it to unlock more mini-games and a bounty of 99.9% useless trinkets. The first strike is the paltry paycheck you receive for each job, meaning that you have to play the majority of tedious games religiously to earn enough to unlock some new stuff. The second strike goes to the trinkets, randomly obtained through vending machines. There a lots of them, but they do nothing apart from attaching themselves to a wall of text for you to read through should you become that bored from all the work. The third strike hits home when you come to realise that not only do you earn the equivalent of peanuts, but when you finally do manage to fill up a small sack of them, you can’t buy anything decent. So what’s the point of trying? Especially when real work is more exciting than most of the ‘games’ packaged up in here.

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Mr. WTF deserves our sympathy; he’s stuck in a rut he’ll never be able to escape from, forced to endure day after day of tedium until the cows come home. And even then, he’ll probably be employed to feed the white ones mushrooms and the brown ones flowers.

There’s nothing else out there quite like WTF. It’s weird, very weird. Mini-game compendiums are usually a mixed bag of sweet and sour, but WTF contains more of the cringing variety. Unlike in Wario Ware, where the rapid switching between games maintained interest, WTF‘s long running time will lose you after a couple of minutes… at best. The funky presentation is uniquely invigorating, but it doesn’t make up for the dry content that gels it all together. Thus, at the end of the day, WTF spells out plenty of WORK and lots of TIME, but barely an ounce of FUN.

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in May 2007.

Gentle persuasion

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