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Video Game / Hammerin' Harry

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Daiku no Gen-san (大工の源さん, "Carpenter Gen"), known outside of Japan as Hammerin' Harry, is an arcade platformer series made by Irem.

The series is centered around Genzo Tamura, otherwise known as "Gen-san" or just "Gen" (or "Harry", if you're American). Gen is a hardworking, hammer-wielding carpenter from Beranme Town who fights against evil construction companies with designs on demolishing Gen's home and other such places to further their sinister goals. Gen's girlfriend, Kanna, usually gets caught up in the chaos, and often needs to be rescued by Gen whenever the company he's fighting at the time gets ahold of her.

The first game was made in 1990 and later ported on the NES a couple of years later. A few games on other Nintendo systems (Game Boy and SNES) followed suit, as well as some pachinko machines. The series became more or less dormant until 2008, when a new installment called Hammerin' Hero was released for the PSP. This time, Gen wasn't limited to his carpenter job (despite the title). Instead, he was able to turn into various other jobs as new forms of attack.

    Games in the Hammerin' Harry/Daiku no Gen-san series 
  • Daiku no Gen-san: Beranme-chō Sōdōki (Carpenter Gen: Beranme Town Uproar)/Hammerin' Harry (1990): The evil construction company Rusty Nailers, Inc. (or the "Kuromoku Group" (Black Wood Group) in the original version), which already owns almost everything in town, needs more space to build its latest project, but Harry's home is in the way. They send a few men to tear it down while he's away; he obviously isn't too happy with it and, armed only with his trusty wooden mallet, goes all the way through construction sites, demolished buildings, docks and sewers to exact revenge on the Rusty Nailers chairman. A pretty simple plot that offers also a little bit of commentary about the Japanese economy of the period.
    • Daiku no Gen-san (Carpenter Gen)/Hammerin' Harry (1991): The console version of the game above, with somewhat different locales and different bosses to fight.

  • Daiku no Gen-san: Ghost Building Company (Carpenter Gen: Ghost Building Company) (1992): Gen fights against a construction company made up of monsters and run by ghosts.

  • Daiku no Gen-san 2: Akage no Dan no Gyakushō (Carpenter Gen 2: Redheaded Dan's Counterattack) (1993): Mad Scientist Dr. Parallel has taken control of the remnants of the Kuromoku-gumi. With Readheaded Dan as primary enforcer, they mean to get revenge on Gen, prompting the carpenter to take up his hammer and fight against the evil company once more.

  • Ganbare! Daiku no Gen-san (Good Luck! Carpenter Gen) (1993): Gen goes up against a revived Kuromoku-gumi, who've built a time machine and wish to take over the future.

  • Daiku no Gen-san: Robot Teikoku no Yabō (Carpenter Gen: The Robot Empire's Ambition) (1994): A sequel to Ghost Building Company. Gen takes the fight to space as he winds up on a giant spaceship populated by robots that want to Take Over the World.

  • Daiku no Gen-san: Kachikachi no Tonkachi ga Kachi (Carpenter Gen: Solid Hammer is Solid) (2000): Gen must utilize different kinds of hammers to solve puzzles.

  • Ikuze! Gen-san: Yūyake Daiku Monogatari (Let's Go! Gen: Sunset Carpenter Story)/Hammerin' Hero (2008): A reboot of the series, which is essentially a retelling of the first game's story, but including characters and elements from the previous games. Gen has multiple jobs in this game, from a diver, to a DJ, to a baseball player, and can uses the skills from these jobs in combat. Gen is also able to literally whack people's fears, doubts, and other such extreme emotions away with his hammer, allowing him to make allies out of them.

The series isn't very well-known, but nowadays Flash renditions of the first arcade can be found all over the place.

The first game provides the following tropes:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: At the beginning of the sixth and last level.
  • Action Girl: The penultimate boss in the console version: the Chairman's secretary, who transforms into a muscle-bound monster that fights Gen with high jumps and kicks.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The Japanese art uses the game's Kawaisa factor with super-deformed characters. The European cover (pictured above) puts Harry in an American construction worker outfit with a skewed jaw.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The boss of the fifth level is a huge mole that the Rusty Nailers brainwashed into attacking people by putting some sort of helmet on its head.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Part of level four, when Harry is on a moving piece of scaffolding.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": For some mysterious reason, all the bad guys have helmets with the letter "M" on them. It has nothing to do either with Rusty Nailers or with the company's original name, Kuromoku-gumi.
    • It may stand for "Met", as in "Helmet".
  • Crate Expectations: Crates are absolutely everywhere, there are also enemies dressed as crates! Yellow and green ones contain special items. Also, don't let them fall on Harry's head.
  • Cultural Translation: All over the place. The setting is unmistakably Japanese, but it was Westernized by changing names, removing all instances of Japanese alphabet, turning sakura petals into blinking twinkles and so on. A good example are the udon stands right at the beginning, that were given names such as "Drew's Diner", but the people coming out of them still throw ramen bowls at Harry.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: All the enemies Gen faces in the Arcade version are male, but in the Japanese version of the console release, he faces a female mini-boss, female enemies, and a female boss, all in the same level. All but the boss were redrawn to be male in the American version. Why the boss stayed the same is unknown, but it's likely because she transforms into a monster to fight you, thus making it okay for Gen to hit her.
  • Dub Name Change: From "Genzo Tamura" to "Harry", and from "Kuromoku-gumi" (Black Wood Group) to "Rusty Nailers, Inc.".
  • Every 10,000 Points: Harry gains an extra life every 70000 points.
  • Executive Suite Fight: The last level has Harry go through the sewers to break unnoticed in Rusty Nailers' corporate HQ, and through the offices up to the business suite where the last enemy, the Chairman, awaits.
  • Forklift Fu: Dock workers attack Harry with forklifts in the third stage.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In the end, the Rusty Nailers learn the error of their ways and become law-abiding citizens, and rebuild Harry's house for free.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Sewer workers that throw manhole covers as if they were boomerang flying discs!
  • New Game Plus: Or better, a second loop with slightly enhanced difficulty that starts after the brief ending sequence is finished.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Everything is harmful to Harry, unless he finds a hard hat to absorb one point of damage. Subverted in the console games where Harry can take three hits before biting the dust.
  • Sinister Shades: Most enemies in the game wear sunglasses or other kinds of opaque glasses.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: Rusty Nailers Inc. modified lots of wrecking balls in this way, to make them even more deadly. Talk about "Safety First"...
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: The fourth boss is a piece of machinery that looks slow and harmless enough until Harry smashes it, then it reveals a fast electrified needle. To defeat it, Harry has to hit the purple swirling core that appears on the main body every now and then.
  • Underground Level: Level five. It appears to be the construction site of an Elaborate Underground Base.
  • Unique Enemy: Right before the fifth boss, there is a giant earthworm that spews blue stuff and takes a few hits to be defeated.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Done in an odd way regarding the penultimate boss of the console version. She's the Chairman's secretary, but to go toe to toe with Gen, she inexplicably transforms into a wild-haired, muscle-bound being. Considering all the female enemies but this boss were redrawn to look like men in the American version, apparently the localizers believed keeping the boss female was okay, since she'd be fighting Gen as a monstrous-looking creature and not as herself like the other female enemies were.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Harry has no qualms knocking out the female Rusty Nailer employees in the penultimate level in the Japanese version of the console game.
  • Yakuza: The docks boss battle takes place in a parking lot, against a couple of cars with goons that shoot at Harry and throw Molotov cocktails.

Other tropes present in the series:

  • 100% Completion: Hammerin' Hero is the only game that explicitly has this. To earn it, you have to beat all thirteen levels on all four difficulty modes, collect all the souvenirs, acquire all of Gen's jobs, collect all of Kanna's bento recipes, acquire all the thank you letters from the people you've whacked away the worries of, and complete the Kuromoku Personnel File by defeating or encountering every enemy and boss at least once.
  • The Anime of the Game: A few anime webisodes called Ikuze! Gen-san ("Go, Gen!") appeared in 2008, almost at the same time of the PSP title's release.
  • Cute and Psycho: Saya, who's quite the adorable girl, but is crazy about Gen, to the point where she had the Kuromoku go after him to bring her to him.
  • Damsel in Distress: Kanna, whom the antagonists love kidnapping. Though it's pretty nonsensical on their part, since it only gives Gen even more incentive to go after them.
  • Evil Redhead: Redheaded Dan, who's as belligerent and as dangerous as they come.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Robot Empire in Ghost Building Company on the Game Boy, which Gen fights against and ultimately defeats in its sequel Robot Teikoku no Yabō.
    • Saya turns out to be this in Hammerin' Hero, being the one who sent the Kuromoku after Gen in the first place.
  • Ludd Was Right: Seems to be the subtext, at least for the more realistic titles. Traditional Japanese carpentry against greedy, soul-less corporations who have no qualms on destroying old buildings in the name of profit. It's proven to an extent by Gen and his friends, who're armed with nothing but hammers and other simple tools, being able to go toe to toe with companies armed with advanced but flimsy and faulty technology. Plus, the World version of the game renames the corporation to Rusty Nailers to further make the point.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The portrait of Harry on the cover of the NES cartridge is totally not based on Sylvester Stallone.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The Kuromoku-gumi's Customer Service Representative in Hammerin' Hero, the equivalent to the secretary in the console version of the very first game. She doesn't transform into a monster like the latter, but make her angry enough, and she can plow through even the Kuromoku's toughest employees.
  • Recycled In Space: Robot Teikoku no Yabō, which literally takes place on a spaceship.
  • The Rival: Gen has some in the carpenters that work for the Rusty Nailers and other such companies. "Red-haired" Dan, an expert in explosives, is his most prominent one, but Gen doesn't seem to notice him.
  • Serial Escalation: Gen goes from getting revenge on the Rusty Nailers for demolishing his house, to taking down a company run by ghosts and other such monsters, to taking down an empire of robots, to using a Gundam-like mech to stop a giant meteor from hitting Earth.
  • Unknown Rival: Dan, who thinks he's Gen's rival, but Gen doesn't consider him any different from any of the other Rusty Nailers.
  • Viler New Villain: The Ghost Building Company, who are much more chaotic and monstrous than the Rusty Nailers. The Robot Empire, the creators and benefactors of the Ghost Building Company, is even worse.