Hamsterball (Review)

“A game that has perfected the art of making gamers lose their cool.”

I’ve been putting off reviewing this for quite some time, and I’m not exactly sure why. It may be because I know that a review for this game would inevitably be short since this is a fairly basic game. I’m going to give it a shot though, so here we go. Hamsterball for the Playstation 3.

Released earlier this year in March on the Playstation Store, Hamsterball is game that will try your patience and is also a good indication as to whether or not you need anger management.

In Hamsterball, you simply guide ball-bound hamsters throughout the most frighteningly complicated obstacle courses ever designed. I can only conclude that a mind such as Tim Burton’s could have come up with the maddening levels in this game, as they border on being completely bizarre and difficult to understand.

There are two game modes that you’ll spend a lot of time in, Hustle and Stunt. In Hustle, the camera is behind the hamster (like a racing game) and you have to navigate your little furry friend through obstacle courses that become frustratingly difficult after about the first dozen stages. The problem with this game mode is that you usually can’t even see where you are going, because the course that you follow dips, flips, bends, and turns in every direction you can imagine, and sometimes all you can do is hold the analog stick forward and hope that your hamster will make it through okay.

There are some terrible annoying obstacles in the Hustle stages. Giant spiked claws rain down on the you in several courses, and although they are mechanized and do have a pattern, you’re usually going to fast to even “try” to avoid them.

Hustle mode is where I spent most of my time because there are LOTS of stages and they each only take a minute or two to complete unless you fail to reach the goal before the time runs out. Thankfully there are power-ups littered throughout the stages that extend your time, and in some instances you will find yourself going out of your way to pick these up.

Stunt mode chooses to bring the camera up above the hamster, looking down from an isometric perspective. Stunt levels are generally slower paced and are much more difficult as you have to roll your hamster over twisty platforms that have no barriers along their edges. Sometimes these platforms even disappear and reappear. This is not a glitch and is just something the game will do to frustrate you and rush you through the stages. I know that I’ve used the word many times over in this review, but these platforms are just nothing but frustrating, and they serve little purpose other than to bother you.

Multiplayer mode isn’t terribly exciting. Several players (and/or AI bots) are plunked down onto a small circular playing field and must simply bounce each other off. It’s a lot less fun than it sounds and won’t keep you entertained for too long.

Regarding Hamsterball’s graphics, they are extremely dated and dont have a terrible amount of detail, but they do their job. The hamsters are sort of cute though, and you may find it hard not to chuckle when they do their little dances after you complete stages. If you do not like bright colours, then I suggest you change the colour and contrast settings on your television, because this is perhaps the brightest video game I have ever played. The game is so bright that many off-course objects stand out too much and distract you.

The sound isn’t terribly exciting, either. Hamsterball’s soundtrack and sound effects won’t win any awards, but they do their job well enough and I really don’t have any complaints about them. The tunes are a little catchy and memorable, but in a Saturday morning cartoon theme song sort of way.

Overall, Hamsterball isn’t a bad game by any stretch. Overall, it’s fairly average and you probably won’t spend too much time playing it. The levels are extremely repetitive, and the same graphics and sound repeat often. Unless you’re a huge fan of cute critters or puzzle games, you may want to think twice about laying down the money for this game, as I doubt that this game will be played for much longer than two or three hours in total. On the plus side, this game would be a great party diversion.

Final Score