Thank you so much to Muse Games for providing a review code.
The art of martial arts is a skill not everyone can master. Only the most mindful of beings can hope to become a true martial artist. While I may not have a black belt, I did dabble in some Taekwondo for a good 6 months when I was younger (still only got my white belt though). Now that I’m older, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up the martial art reins one last time. This time, however I will be living my martial arts career vicariously through a hamster.
Hamsterdam begins with the story of our young hamster Pimm. One day Pimm’s town of Hamsterdam is under siege from a gang of vermins. This gang of vermin, not only terrorizes the town, but they also capture Pimm’s grandfather. Determined to save his grandpa and the town he loves, Pimm adopts the way of the Hamster-Fu. With his new found strength Pimm is ready to take on the toughest of vermin.
Hansterdam’s story is short and sweet. After the cutscenes in the beginning you won’t hear much about it during your playthrough. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s there to help give some character and engage the player in Pimm’s journey.
Hamsterdam is a 3D beat em up that focuses much of its gameplay on precise timings and fast paced combat.
The first thing I should mention is the possible control schemes. Hamsterdam gives you a variety of options to play the gam,e with. You’re given the option of using button controls, motion controls, or touch screen controls.
Every level is set across a world map that, I will say is fairly similar to what you would see in a mobile title. Once a level is selected there are two sets of 3 goals to achieve. One set of determines how many stars you get on the level, and the other set will net you a nice reward should you complete each extra objective. This all probably sounds like your average mobile game tropes, but trust me Hamsterdam is not a generic mobile game brought over to the Switch.
When a level starts you’re brought into an environment that has you on one side of the screen and a group of vermin on the other. One at a time the your enemies will jump in front of you, so that you can unleash your Hamster-Fu skills on them. The action is fast paced and in no time you’ll be throwing a flurry of punches at your enemies. As you hit an enemy small white rings will pop up, and if you can hit on time with the rings you will get a perfect hit, which does more damage than a regular one. Then, after connecting enough punches in a row on an enemy you will get a “Big hit”. A big hit does serious damage and are vital to taking out enemies quickly and efficiently.
Now you may not always have the chance to land a succession of hits on an enemy. The enemies around you will periodically, try to interfere while you’re in the middle of fighting one of their friends. I would usually say that this makes for an unfair fight, but for Pimm the odds are still stacked in his favor.
Once an enemy starts to sparkle they will quickly ready an attack. By flicking the control stick in the direction of the enemy you can counter their attack. Doing so will flip the enemy in front of you, making them your new victim. Sometimes enemies will trade places and a new one will jump in and try to attack you. During these sequences you will have to perform a quick-time event by pressing the necessary buttons.
The gameplay isn’t simply, about spamming punches. There’s additional mechanics that Hamsterdam introduces to you along your journey. The first mechanic that’s introduced is the KO mechanic. After connecting punches your KO bar will fill. When it fills you can target an enemy with your KO and instantly perform a KO attack that will take out an entire health bar.
The other mechanic that gets introduced is the charge attack. As you journey further on, the vermin’s will start to get stronger in hopes of thwarting your efforts. Eventually, they will start wearing armor and in order to destroy their armor, you have to hit them with a charged up attack. If you don’t break their armor fast enough when the shield icon pops up, the enemy will perform a counter attack.
Hamsterdam also contains 3 sub-boss and 3 main boss fights. These are very different from the beat em up style gameplay that the game has you used to. These fights end up being more of a combination of a minigame with fast paced gameplay. For example, the first boss fight sees you playing on a horizontal surface moving from left to right dodging bombs being tossed by a gigantic chinchilla named Marlo. Eventually Marlo will toss out hamsters and you have to move in their direction to fling him at the boss.
The other boss fights have different gameplay, but they all ended up feeling more like minigames, than a real boss fight. The boss fights weren’t bad and I still manage to enjoy them. However, I feel like they could have made much more creative fights out of the boss battles, instead of turning them into minigames.
If you’re a fan of customization and collecting you’re in luck, as Hamsterdam offers a nice amount of customization. Completing goals and defeating vermin, will net you seeds. These seeds can be used to purchase new accessories such as, hats, glasses, jackets, and gloves. Some of these accessories even come with abilities that can make the gameplay easier, or harder. If you find yourself not having enough seeds to purchase an accessory you want, there’s also an option to play a few 2D scrolling levels, where you ride a scooter and gather seeds.
Hamsterdam is a delightful little beat em up that manages to be entertaining throughout its entire adventure. The game will probably only run you about three hours, and maybe an extra few hours trying to complete each levels goals. Overall, the combat is fun and there’s a great amount of variety in the customization. Everything flows really well in Hamsterdam, and I think one of my only complaints is the boss fights being reduced to minigames. As I previously mentioned they weren’t boring, but they could have been better. Also, for any players that are looking for a challenge, Hamsterdam may not be for you. The gamplay is a bit too simplistic, for it to be overly challenging.
Hamsterdam boasts a colorful and cute art style that looks fantastic and blends well with the gameplay. Each of the enemy designs look great and I never got tired of seeing them. I was happy the enemy designs were so well crafted, because for the most part they stay the same throughout the whole game.
The environments were terrific, and although they only really served as backdrops, they were pleasant to look at. The sound design was also well done and I was happily listening along to it, during my intense battles.
Unfortunately, I can’t say my playthrough of Hamsterdam didn’t come without technical issue. The game had this strange issue where animations would freeze on screen, for a few seconds and then suddenly resume. The problem was that this happened quite a few times, and there were times where it went on, for up to 10 seconds. I even had to close the game once, after it froze for over a minute. I can only hope the team over at Muse Games will patch these issues out in the future.
Hamsterdam was a nice way to spend a few hours of my time. Pimm’s adventure was amusing and full of fast paced combat. Players who enjoy elements of customization and tons of extra goals to complete will greatly appreciate all that Hamsterdam has to offer. Sadly, Hamsterdam’s lack of difficulty, boss battles that don’t quite live up to the fun beat em up style gameplay, and freezing issues may be off putting, for some. Despite its issues, however Hamsterdam is an adventure worth taking on, and I hope many others get the chance to learn the art of Hamster-Fu
Enjoyable Fast Paced Beat Em Up Combat
Nice Level of Customization
Tons of Milestones to Achieve For Completionist
Beautifully Crafted Visual Design
Option For Motion & Touch Screen Controls
Not Very Challenging
Boss Battles Could Have Been More Than Just Minigames
Issue With Animations Freezing
Short on Content For Those Uninterested in Extra Goals