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Video Game / Hammerin' Harry

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Hammerin' Harry (original title Daiku no Gen-san, or "Gen the Carpenter") is an arcade platformer made by Irem 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, once again featuring Gen, who this time wasn't limited to his carpenter job (despite the title), but could turn into various other jobs as new forms of attack.

The story of the first game goes as such: the evil construction company Rusty Nailers Inc., which already owns almost everything in town, needs more space to build its latest project, but Gen/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.


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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Drop the Hammer: Read the title. The main character uses a hammer.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Sewer workers that throw manhole covers as if they were boomerang flying discs!
  • New Game+: 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.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • The Rival: A red-haired fellow carpenter named Dan, expert in explosives.
  • Unknown Rival: At least Dan thinks he's actually a rival to Gen. Gen doesn't consider him any different from anyone else from Kuromoku-gumi/Rusty Nailers.


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