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Video Game / Part Time UFO

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Part Time UFO is a physics-based puzzle game by HAL Egg, a mobile subsidiary of HAL Laboratory. The game stars a crane-equipped UFO taking on odd jobs around Earth.

As far as plots go, you play as Jobski, a little UFO that crashes onto an Earth farm by accident. Not wanting to leave the place a mess, it cleans up everything that got scattered from the impact, and the farmer's so impressed he introduces it to the concept of getting paid for a hard day's work. This inspires it to start looking for work while it's still on Earth and get used to life there.

The game is a score-based system with a time limit, where excellence in your jobs means higher pay. Gameplay relies on picking up various items and bringing them to a designated goal site. Much like real-life crane games, there are only two methods of input: a joystick to maneuver Jobski, and a button to make them pick up and drop items. Also like crane games, precise movements are necessary to get higher scores: each item you bring to the goal nets an extra 10 seconds, with an bonus added if the main mission is completed in time. All levels come with three additional missions to complete, typically involving stacking the items a certain way, collecting a certain item that may be hidden, or even making sure your stack doesn't topple over.

The game was released for smartphones in 2017. While it's a standalone title, Jobski would later make cameos in the BoxBoy! series as well as HAL Egg's second title Kame Sanpo.

On October 28, 2020, a Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase revealed a Nintendo Switch port of Part-Time UFO, released on the same day. The port enhances the game's performance and adds new features, including tougher versions of existing jobs, a "Feats of Glory" achievement system, co-op play, and the side modes Treasure Island and Tower of Infinity.

Tropes present in this game include:

  • 100% Completion: Not only do you have to do well at your jobs, there are also missions at each job that earn you medals and additional cash.
  • Alien Among Us:
    • The plot starts when Jobski crash lands on Earth, and we follow the little guy as it raises enough money through part-time work to get home.
    • Ankh herself is said to have originated from somewhere other than Earth, even as to call herself a "space gal" when greeting a returning Jobski. How long she’s been on Earth is unclear, but it’s assumed she’s been there a while before Jobski's arrival.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: Subverted; the first place Jobski helps out is a farm, where the local farmer even gives the idea to look for work while it's stranded on Earth. One of the later farm levels even inverts it, as Jobski is using its claw to help load cows onto a truck.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Ankh's name is never said once in the game, only appearing in the official Twitter's in-character posts.
    • In the full Trailer for the Switch port, the UFO finally gets the Meaningful Name of Jobski; its Japanese pronunciation (ジョブ好き, "jobu suki") means "to like jobs".
    • In fact, only two more characters had their names revealed through Twitter posts:
      • Dr. Dharma, the scientist with a daruma doll-like face from the Lab stages.
      • Kuro Hanpen, the phantom thief found in both Farm and Museum stages.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • Ankh, the blue-skinned Bedlah Babe running the shop (as much as the game's art style can allow, anyway).
    • Nearing the end of the Treasure Island Mode, Jobski comes across two military-like treasure hunters (both with unusually green skin compared to all the other humans in the game), whom set out to stop Jobski from getting away with the treasures collected. Considering that this is a game about extraterrestrials spending life on Earth, it’s possible they themselves may not even be entirely human at all.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Subverted in the Construction Site levels, but the second job does specify that Jobski would have to time travel to Ancient Japan and help build an ancient temple while avoiding attacks from ninjas. Also, a couple statues of the Moon invaders can be found in Treasure Island.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: A few of the unlockable costumes can't be bought, instead relying on Jobski getting medals from its jobs.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The mecha fought in the second Moon level is named Comoestas (Spanish for "How are you?").
  • Astral Finale: The Moon levels, which pit you against a group of literal Starfish Aliens trying to take over Earth.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Many of HAL Laboratory's games feature UFOs in some way (primarily the UFO ability in the Kirby series, as well as a costume in BoxBoy!), and this game takes it further by having a UFO as a playable character.
    • The highly esoteric sense of humor found in many of HAL's previous games, most notably Kirby and EarthBound (1994), is also very much present here, featuring a large amount of sight gags and parodies of western and Japanese everyday life.
  • Bedlah Babe: Ankh, a blue-skinned girl in a turban and belly-dancer outfit.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The soundtrack has a synthesized group of high-pitched voices sing a phrase relating to Jobski in Japanese:
    • "Hataraku UFO" (Working UFO) for the title theme and most job levels.
    • "Kaimono UFO" (Shopping UFO) for Ankh's shop.
    • "Kigaeru UFO" (Clothes-changing UFO) for the costume menu.
    • "Tatakau UFO" (Fighting UFO) for the battles on the moon and Treasure Island.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Treasure Island, a set of new levels in the Switch version consisting of three rooms with multiple treasures to find and a Bonus Boss under a time limit.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Moon 2's objective splash screen gives Comoestas one of these alongside some Boss Subtitles.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: The theme tune variation used in the High School levels was also used as the main theme in both the mobile and console trailers for this game.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Getting all the medals in the game earns the Medal King crown, which comes with a red flowing cape.
  • Character in the Logo: Jobski's claw appears in the title logo.
  • Christmas Episode: The Toy Shop levels from the Switch version are always set in a toy shop in the wintertime, where Jobski has to arrange all the toys around into a container and make sure it's sealed. The Image Share screen even gives Jobski a Santa costume and bag, and the old woman in the background looks an awful lot like a Mrs. Claus.
  • Company Cross References:
    • Qbby occasionally appears in Jobski's apartment and in the background of many stages after beating the game (in the Switch version he cameos in stages from the start of the game, though he doesn't appear in Jobski's apartment), and several Twitter posts have the pair hang out. Some of the posts also imply Jobski admires Kirby as well.
    • One of the Toy Shop jobs in the Switch version involves moving plush toys of Kirby, King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Waddle Dees.
    • In the Switch version, Urashima (the turtle) and Inaba (the hare) from Kame Sanpo appear in a job book illustration.
  • Continuity Creep: While there are a few recurring locations in the game, the later stages start to tie into one another. The creation of a funky-looking mech (ostensibly to protect Earth) ends in the same Mech coming to the rescue when Jobski fights the star aliens.
  • Creator Cameo: In the mobile version, the HAL Egg logo appears as one of the food items Jobski can collect in the Restaurant levels. In the Switch version, the egg-shaped Dream Hatcher (the dog in the HAL Laboratory logo) appears instead.

  • Creator's Culture Carryover: Galactic currency looks an awful lot like Japanese yen. How much you get for a job also seems to match yen rates as well.

  • Dastardly Whiplash: The submarine captain who serves as the boss of Treasure Island looks the part, swapping the mustache for a beard and having a diminutive assistant who he bonks on the head when he wants missiles fired at Jobski.
  • Easter Egg: In the mobile version, tapping on Qbby when he appears in Jobski's apartment unlocks the Qbby's UFO costume, which sadly "can't make boxes". The Switch version has an alternate method of obtaining it, as Qbby cameos beyond the apartment.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": Prior to the Switch release, the main character was only known as "UFO". The gameplay trailer revealed its name to be Jobski.
  • First Contact Farmer: The introduction to the game. The first human Jobski comes to contact with is the Farmer who asks them to help put the delivery back on the truck.
  • I Choose to Stay: The ending. Jobski is asked to return to its home planet now that it has successfully obtained information on Earth's work culture. Jobski instead returns to Earth.
  • Innocent Aliens: Jobski means no harm and just wants to get enough money to get back home.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The second room of the ruins features lava geysers and falls that take a whopping 40 seconds off the timer if you so much as brush against it. The lava can be blocked by placing the key parts over the geysers or by using the skull-shaped key as a helmet.
  • Mountain of Food: Two of the Restaurant levels allow you to make your own with either ice cream or pancakes.
  • Mundane Utility: For such a versatile claw, Jobski is often seen using it in bonus art for changing the channel, eating food, or other day-to-day things.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The Moon levels, which involve fighting aliens (Moon 1), then their leader in their robot (Moon 2), then finally making sure the leader doesn't escape (Moon 3).
  • Retraux: The touchscreen mechanics and pixel art aesthetic make it look like a long-lost Nintendo DS game. Most of the soundtrack is also chiptune-based, also tying into the pixel art graphics.
  • Running Gag: A smiling, sitting haniwa reoccurs throughout the game for no apparent reason other than to look silly and out-of-place. Every job the haniwa appears in features a medal objective requiring Jobski to place them somewhere in the goal area before completing the objective— even when trying to weigh down the alien overlord's escape pod. The only part of the game where the haniwa isn't part of a medal objective is in Treasure Island Mode, and even then their appearance in the background is relevant to solving a puzzle.
  • Sentient Vehicle: Jobski the UFO, naturally. Previously, it seemed to be the only one of its kind. The Switch version now includes a second red UFO as a Player 2 for Color-Coded Multiplayer.
  • Speech Impediment: Ankh, the shopkeeper, speaks all of her "s" sounds as "sh" sounds. This was removed in the Switch port.
  • Starfish Aliens: Probably one of the more literal interpretations of this trope since the Moon aliens are cartoonish starfish-people, though their leader has a humanoid body.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Both of the game's bosses aren't good with tactics. The alien leader's Comoestas wouldn't be damaged if it didn't send out minions or use its swing attack, and the submarine captain's missiles expose the keys necessary to defeat him.
  • Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack: There are two main melodies throughout the soundtrack: the theme found in the main menu, and the Farm theme. How they're incorporated depends on the type of stage: the Museum theme, for example, is quiet and has the voices whisper.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The Nintendo Direct trailer for the Switch port gives away the battle with Comoestas.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: The more money you earn, the more costumes you can buy for Jobski. They're not purely cosmetic, though: most of them will provide some kind of stat boost, such as the Safety Helmet allowing you to stop faster, or the Juggling Clown hat giving the claw a wider swing.
  • Visual Pun: A vehicular alien using a built-in claw to maneuver items into a designated goal? Sounds like a UFO Catcher.note