There’s been this debate going on for way too many years now: do games have to be fun to be good? It’s a debate with a clear answer, but it tends to fall to two arguments by two sides: one side that will say that all games should be fun, and free of politics, and then call you a bunch of slurs. Then the other side which will show off every dogshit walking sim made by some pretentious blowhard who will be accused of a double digit number of sex crimes within the next six months. It’s an argument that goes nowhere and like all games related discourse, is now nothing more than fodder in a cultural battle. The answer, for the record, is no. Games don’t have to be fun to be good; Silent Hill has always been my go-to example. Great, engaging games, with some of the best uses of horror in the medium, but you’re not going to tell me that those games are fun in the way that Devil May Cry or Super Mario World are. Work Time Fun on the PSP is not a fun game, but it is still among the best titles on the handheld.
Work Time Fun is one of those games that has a message. Work Time Fun is one of those games that has politics. Work Time Fun is a game about, well, going to work. You play various mini-games (which are called jobs here), all of which are varying degrees of either extremely dangerous or mind-numbingly tedious. Some examples: playing a game of chicken (driving your car at high speeds dangerously close to a cliff), counting how many times you can stab an icepick at the spaces between your fingers without actually stabbing yourself, chopping wood into lumber while making sure you don’t accidentally decapitate a cute animal that ends up on the literal chopping block, cross the street without getting hit by a car, sorting baby chicks into boxes based on gender and whether or not they’re dead, and putting the caps on pens in an endless assembly line. The wages you get paid for these jobs is minuscule; twenty bucks if you’re lucky.
What can you do with this money? Why, you put it into vending machines so you can get some cheap plastic crap out of it. You might get more mini-games, some utilities for your PSP (like one that turns your PSP screen into a flashlight), or maybe something like a barbecue grill, but otherwise it’s all shit like finger puppets and bouncy balls.
Yes, there is a PSP game dedicated to the banality of work. A series of intentionally tedious things to represent having a shitty, boring job, and having to distract yourself and your shrinking paycheck with toys, occasionally broken up by the charm of WTF’s art style and the personality of your co-workers. The game itself is a joke, but it’s at least a funny one. Games don’t have to be fun to be good.
I should also point out that Work Time Fun is something of a sequel to a Playstation game called Denki Groove Jigoku V. In fact, several of the mini-games in that game were reused here. Denki Groove themselves are a two-man EDM group in Japan, and in their game, you played these mini-games to get more samples to use so you could make music in a rudimentary tracker. You may not know who Denki Groove are, or have heard their music, but you definitely know one of their members: Pierre Taki. In addition to being a musician, he is also an actor, and his likeness was used in Judgement on PS4…until he got arrested for cocaine possession in 2019, where he was hastily removed and replaced. Look, I’ll always adore Japanese culture and especially their art, but I will never get over the hang-ups regarding recreational drug use. Granted, it’s not like America is much better, but at least we didn’t arrest Paul McCartney for weed. Also, while I’m here, I will never get over Japan’s hang-ups regarding pornography, and the constant censorship of it. Do you know how fucked up it is to watch gay porn and have all the cocks blurred out like they’re being arrested on an episode of Cops?
I realize that I’m making WTF sound like the worst game on the system, but it isn’t. It is genuinely “good” in that it’s something you can pull out for about twenty minutes, even an hour, and go back to a different game. One of those weird, experimental games that used to populate Playstations. A charming little title that, despite being full of things that would kill any other game, still deserves a mention when discussing the all-time classics on the PSP.
Also, I do need to mention the single greatest thing you will ever see in a game: WTF’s Ramen Timer: