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Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games Package Art
 GENRE
  Arcade-Adventure
 DEVELOPER
  Alpha Dream
 PUBLISHER
  Nintendo
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1
 CONNECTIVITY
  No
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Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games

Now that Nintendo of America has begun to embrace some of the franchises that they previously felt fit exclusively for Japanese audiences, gamers of the widest of tastes can participate in the cutesy fun and brilliantly illuminated antics of the hamster world, as seen through the eyes of Hamtaro himself. This would mark the third in the series to grace our shores, following up on the Game Boy Color’s Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite and the Game Boy Advance’s Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak. However, these previous two titles are drastically different than this third, which has taken the place of the now defunct Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue.

Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games, unlike its predecessors, is essentially a collection of mini-games entrenched in a full out hamster community, in which the hamsters’ chief form of entertainment is either spectating or participating in the various events themselves. The fact that each event is actually a mini-game is where the similarities to titles like Wario Ware and Mario Party end. Nonetheless, it’s apparent that Nintendo has found a nice niche for itself in crafting some of the best mini-game collections this side of the universe. Hamtaro is, I am happy to say, no exception to said trend.

HHG (Ham-Ham Games) features a total of fifteen different, colorful mini games that are played over the course of seven days, as they pass in Hamtaro’s virtual world. Hamtaro will essentially call upon several hamsters for the varying events, including Bijou (a name fans of the anime – which does not include me – will surely recognize) in a tennis match that rivals the fun factor of Camelot’s own handheld tennis game featuring a slightly more famous Nintendo name. As a set of track and field events, you could probably guess what types of athletics are present -- swimming, hammer-throwing, poll vault, volleyball, and more. If you lose any of the events, you will still get to retry at some point. When the dust settles after an intense week for the rodent Olympiads, the team with the most gold medals is declared the victor of the Ham-Ham games.

Each of these events is generally a whole lot of fun, though I myself found a great deal of frustration in the rather boring and generic “chicken race”. Developer AlphaDream didn’t put as much care into this event as the others out there, for better or worse. As far as the best of the fifteen events, I’d probably place my money on both tennis and volleyball – the two most standardized and fast-paced of the lot.

visuals

HHG features lush, colorful areas that emulates the dwarven world of the cutesy protagonist and his disgustingly adorable brethren. It is very apparent that AlphaDream has a preferred style, as the visuals in HHG appear awfully similar to their spectacular Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, which released last year. That is, make no mistake, a good thing. While the general environments only move when temporary objects are collected or manipulated, a few nice little effects try and provide a sense of realism -- as real as you can get in a game based on hamsters -- with shifts in the motion of water, dirt, and what have you. More delightful is the facial expressions that’ll occasionally change when a certain mention or emotion is “activated”. More impressive yet than the seemingly sub-par scaling is, of course, the fantastic artwork itself. Good stuff.

audio

Not the finest facet of the software, the music and sound effects are fitting and endurable, satisfying the aural requirement that so many others out there seem to neglect. However, don’t approach HHG expecting a score by Koji Kondo.

gameplay

Hamtaro is more or less an arcade-esque compilation of several very different mini-games, strewn out about in a sort of decathlon to provide a greater sense of depth to what might otherwise be a shallow experience. Nintendo seems to have done a good job in revamping this title to have a good bit of replay value, having the player want to come back for seconds well after the initial tournament has been completed. The difficulty level is set just right for most events, which all share a common “time-based” derivation. Titles like HHG can only help to reinforce the age-old claim that this little hobby of ours is good for hand-eye coordination.

multiplayer

Oddly enough, HHG has no multiplayer mode, despite its fifteen mini-games that are particularly well-suited to competitive (or occasionally cooperative) play. Instead, Nintendo has enabled link cable and wireless link support for mere data transmission purposes. Lame.

overall

Not to be confused with any old button-masher, Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games requires a good deal of manual tact and the precision of a true gamer. While there are certainly bigger titles out there, Nintendo and AlphaDream have done a nice job in making this compilation work, surpassing any expectations I might have had for this relatively obscure offering. And, for a price tag 20 dollars lower than the console games of the world, this might just be that relaxing departure from the crowded mainstream market that you’ve been searching for. Take a nibble.

final score 7.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar William Jacques
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"Oh oblivious, naïve Humanity... How ignorant we really are - safe only in our blind "superior" view of the world."


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