IGN Review of WTF: Work Time Fun
The problem with trying to make work fun is that working fundamentally sucks. Throw in the occasional perk and it becomes tolerable. But the underlying dilemma will always remain. Such is the problem with WTF: Work Time Fun, from developer SCE Studios Japan. It does a fine job of parodying the tedium of work, though it ends up suffering the same fate.
Not to say it has zero appeal. It looks like just the thing to have in a pocket upon first inspection. WTF has a super funky graphical style, for instance, which actually works well for the game. It pulls off the intended mish-mash of retro and modern aesthetics quite nicely. This helps make WTF one of the most unique-looking titles on the system. Anyone who has seen Hot PXL knows what WTF looks like to a degree. The former has a stronger urban vibe, but the two titles certainly share a common sense of style. They also have something else in common - they try to provide the chronic workaholic (or traveling student) with an escape from real life, if only for five minutes at a time.
WTF provides a collection of mini-games and ties them together under a single theme: work. Whether taking orders at a restaurant or playing a bouncer, players will navigate jobs to earn cash. Only each job is intentionally hellish and repetitive - since WTF admittedly hopes to recreate hell as a work. It also tries to make it fun, of course, by offering dozens of occupations and giving it all a groovy sense of style. Everything from the built-in email client, where players receive emails from fellow "workers" in the game, to the Hell Cantina, which houses the multiplayer options, everything in WTF just oozes contemporary cool.
Style isn't the problem. The game reveals its greatest weakness through the actual mini-games. While an ok diversion at first, very few of them offer the one thing they need to: fun. They produce the very feelings WTF means to dispel, specifically boredom and frustration. Not all of them - some offer a good deal of respite from the ol' day job. But the frustrating bits far outweigh the enjoyable ones. Take one of the mini-games available at the start of the game, called "Pendemonium." Players work in a pen factory and need to flip pens over so they match with their caps. It's funny and even enjoyable for a few minutes, but it goes on forever. It has no pre-set time limit. Players can also mash buttons for 10 minutes and accrue a decent amount of money, without trying to succeed, and then use the funds to unlock other mini-games.
Some of them require a little more effort. The "Ready to Order?" challenge is a good example. Players need to listen as a number of clients place orders in a restaurant. It's not easy: they change their minds, speak rapidly and only offer 10 or so seconds to repeat the order correctly. Players punch in the order using a PDA of sorts, complete with submenus for entrees, drinks and deserts. It also happens to look cool; like a twisted anime. It's fun for a while, but as the difficulty increases (and it does so quickly) it gets pretty aggravating. This rapid increase in difficulty applies for most of the mini-games, too, so unless a player really wants to stick with it, the game will demoralize many - or at least just one. Woo hoo!
It seems the shinier parts of this package lie in the periphery. The aforementioned email client is a nice addition, if a little gimmicky. There's also a series of digital toys to find, very much like the ones in Hot PXL. Most serve no function but to make people giggle for a minute. Players can find some that paint large eyes on the PSP so it looks funny when someone holds the system up to his/her face. Others actually help a little, like the restaurant bill splitter and flashlight function. While not really related to the game itself, at least not in terms of gameplay, they increase the oddity appeal in WTF. Like most PSP games, WTF offers a competitive ad-hoc mode, as well as the option to beam certain mini-games to fellow PSP owners. This lends the game some longevity - plus it's not as frustrating when playing an absurdly hard challenge with a friend who is sucking equally bad. It's true.
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