Flying Hamster (Review)

“An excessively crazy and cute side scrolling shooter that anyone can pick up and enjoy.”

While poking around the Playstation Store’s Minis section for something to play on my PSP, I happened across a curious sounding title. Flying Hamster. I read the description and realized that the game was side scrolling shooter, like Gradius or R-Type. Considering the fact that the player assumed the role of a hamster, I just had to check the game out to see what it was like. Well, after playing the game quite frequently on my PSP, I can say that it’s a pretty fantastic shooter.

In Flying Hamster, you play as a hamster who is constantly trying to rescue his girlfriend hamster from the clutches of evil. Just before the start of each level, the protagonist’s girlfriend is captured by the boss of the next level. It’s all done in a really adorably cartoon-like anime style that you can’t help but chuckle over. The game’s cuteness is so over the top that it is absurd. That does not mean that the game is just a cute little romp for kiddies, no. While the presentation of the game may be very sugar coated, there is a very dark sense of humour in this game. In the first level, cows that use their udders as machine guns attack the player, and in the following level that is set in the desert, penguins with parasols try to shoot down the player with pistols. Yes, you read that right… Penguins in the desert.

The joy of Flying Hamster is that it makes practically no sense at all. The game is just mindless fun, and it plays like something straight out of 1990. If the graphics were a little lower quality, this game could easily pass as something straight out of the Super Nintendo’s library. That is in no way a bad thing, since the Super Nintendo had a healthy amount of fun shooters. Flying Hamster is perhaps even more enjoyable than any shooter on the SNES. The game’s insane levels of quirkiness help it along quite a lot, but the gameplay is also extremely solid. Controls are very fluid and precise, so missing your targets or failing to avoid incoming projectiles will always be your own fault.

Flying Hamster is divided up into roughly half a dozen stages which are all themed. Throughout the stages, the player will have to dodge all sorts of zig-zagging enemies and projectiles while shooting down obstacles and stage bosses. The bosses are pretty fun in this game and definitely make you smile. The bosses start out moderately easy with a giant owl that shoots homing lasers from it’s eyes, but the game will quickly ramp up the difficulty slightly, though the game never becomes as difficult as other games in the genre. I think most of the reason for this game being fairly easy is the fact that you are able to take three hits before dying instead of just one, and the powerups are pretty darn powerful.

My two favourite power-ups are the beer and the fire. The beer will make the player squirt little dabs of beer, but when it is charged up, prepare for projectile vomit-like streams of beer! It’s a prett gross (but hilarious sight) and, fortunately, it’s strong as hell too. The fire is in the same boat as the beer. If you fire it without charging it, you’ll just shoot off weak little shots, but when the fire attack is charged, our little hamster spews a steady stream of fire that obliterates everything in it’s way! There are many other power-ups to collect, such as homing bees and boomerange bananas. All of them are pretty silly and should put a smirk on your face.

The presentation is what really sells this game, though. The graphics are ridiculously cute (just look at the screenshots in the review) and the music is so light-hearted and fun. It really is impossible not to be captivated by this charming little game. I had a recent play session of the game where I hooked my PSP up to my TV and everyone in the room got a kick out of all of the hilarious and silly things happening on the screen.

I honestly cannot give this game a low score or not recommend it to anyone. It’s such a lot of fun to play, and the crazy presentation of the game even appeals to people who don’t like side scrolling shooters. For only a few bucks on the Playstation Store (as well as on the iPhone App Store), you really can’t go wrong with having this game in the palm of your hands.

Final Score


Tekken Resolute (Review)

“The game to buy if you want to smash Nina Williams’ face in on the go.”

Imagine my surprise when I found out that there was a Tekken game available on the BlackBerry App World. I could not imagine my little BlackBerry Bold 9700 being able to run a 3D Tekken game, so I was suspicious at first. After checking out the screenshots of the game however, I learned that this was a 2D fighter. Quite a change for Tekken! As a huge fan of the Tekken franchise, I purchased the game for a few dollars and gave it a try.

The most upsetting thing that I learned right away is that the game will not play music and sound effects at the same time, forcing you to pick which you would rather hear. This was a little disappointing, as both the music and sound effects make the Tekken experience into what it is.

From the main menu, you can choose between a few options. Arcade, Story, Practice, and Tekken Force are all present. There is also a “Custom” option on the main menu, which I presume is for making your own outfits.

Tekken Force and Custom are locked initially, and I have not experienced either feature since, well, the game just isn’t interesting enough for me to want to unlock them. I have a pretty good idea as to how Tekken Force would play anyway, and I severely doubt that the custom costumes would be any good at all in this mobile Tekken game. So, let’s head straight to the reason why anyone would even buy this game – to play some Tekken!

There are eight characters. Jin, Kazuya, King, Law, Nina, Paul, Xiaoyu, and Yoshimitsu. Initially, only Jin and Xiaoyu are available. The rest of the cast must be unlocked by completing game modes.

I immediately took notice of the graphics when my first fight began. They are really quite nice for a mobile fighter. The backgrounds look fairly vibrant and the character sprites animate very well, except for King who seems to be suffering from the worst case of Parkinson’s that I have ever seen. King, in his idle stance, is moving and shuffling at a frighteningly uncontrollable speed, and it just looks very awkward. The rest of the characters look just fine though, and I was actually genuinely impressed. They really do look pretty decent, and I could tell that effort was put into the sprites.

The controls aren’t as bad as what I’ve had to endure in some other games on my BlackBerry (I’m looking at you, Mega Man 3), but they leave a lot to be desired for. If you are exceptionally lazy, you can play the entire game with just the BlackBerry’s trackpad. Pressing it will make your character perform a punch while moving your finger across it will, of course, make your character move as well. If you want a little more depth (which you should), you can perform other kicks and punches by pressing a few buttons on your phone’s keypad. All attack and movement buttons are cluttered together, so if you are on a BlackBerry Bold such like I am, the controls become difficult to manage and many mistakes will be had. The game is certainly playable however, it’s just very difficult to adjust to.

The music and sound effects are hardly even sufficient in this game, and you can tell that they are of a very low quality. I find that I enjoy the game most with the sounds turned off.

Despite the fact that this game has a story mode, there isn’t much of a story at all beyond the characters trash talking each other during matches. The interaction between Jin and Paul alone was cringe-worthy.

The fighting itself is awfully simple, which could be expected from a mobile fighter. AI opponents have a habit of just walking into attacks, and they are really slow at being any bit defensive. Wins will come often and easily, and there is literally no point in trying to pull of any signature moves with your chosen characters because they won’t be needed.

The gameplay really isn’t too bad. It’s flawed and lacks a lot of depth, but it can briefly hold my attention. It’s not really awful or anything, it just doesn’t have anything to hook me and make me want to keep playing. I suppose that I could just say that the gameplay is bland.

Overall, this game could serve as a decent two or three minute diversion, but it is unlikely that you will want to sink much time into this game to unlock all of the goodies it presents when you can just as easily do that on Tekken 6 for the 360, PSP, or 360, or on Tekken Tag Tournament 2 next summer. Still, it’s enjoyable in small doses. If you want to beat up some popular Tekken characters on the go, then this may be a decent game to check out for only a few dollars.

Final Score