[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/hamhamgames/cover.jpg[/floatleft]The characters of Hamtaro are back in yet another highly addictive title. Hamtaro: Ham Ham Games follows the lovable creatures through a 15 event sports festival. The release of this game came just prior to the start of the 2004 Olympics in Athens so I have aptly named this the Hamster Olympics. You play as part of the Ham-Ham team and obviously try to win top honors in each event.
Each day of the competition is typically broken up into several parts. There are 3 events with free time in between each event. You can use free time to walk around and talk to people in different areas of the game and collect sunflower seeds. When you enter an area and start an event you have a few choices. You can view the tutorial on how to play the event, you can practice the event, and then you can enter the event. You can also set the level of difficulty for each event. I highly recommend starting on easy, watching the tutorial, and practicing until you have the event down solid. Some of the events are just timing button presses and some require a very high level of patience and a lot of practice. When you decide to enter the event you are given a choice of characters from the team. Sometimes there is only 1 choice, but in other events there are multiple member of the team that are experts in the event. You then battle it out and are rewarded a medal for your efforts. The medaling system is Gold, Silver, Bronze and you are also awarded a number of sunflower seeds for each medal ranking. The number of seeds for each medal goes up as you raise the difficulty.
At the end of each day you take your hamster back to the clubhouse and go to sleep. This will start a new day so you can continue your utter domination of the Hamster Olympics (at least that was the case for me). The 15 events you will be competing in are as follows:
[*]Bird back riding
The event that gave me the most trouble was the Bird back riding, but I ended up with a dominating gold medal anyway.
This game does make use of the GBA to GBA link cable or the GBA wireless adapter if you have one. You can compare stats with your friends and there are plenty of items to collect and trade with your friends. I only own 1 GBA and so I will not be touching too much on the linking capabilities of the game.
Up until this point I know what you are thinking. If you checked out the screens for the game and have made it this far then you are wondering why on earth I would recommend you pick up a cute little game where hamsters compete in Olympic sports. The only thing I can say to that is crack. The game is like crack. Not quite to the extent that Animal Crossing is, but it is very addicting and I want nothing more than to be the most dominant hamster athlete in the world.
I didn’t really dig the music or sound effects in Ham-Ham Games so I spent most of the time playing with the sound off. This works well for gaming on the go and not so well if you play in a Gameboy Player. Since I did spend some time with it in my GBP I figured that I would mention that the game was much easier to play with a full size GC controller. This is not always the case for GBA games since they often rely on the D-pad and just 2 buttons that are in strange places on the GC controller. The swimming event relied heavily on timed presses of different sets of buttons and would probably be needlessly hard with a full sized controller so I opted to stick with my GBA for that event.
Hamtaro Ham Ham Games is a fun Olympic style game that will appeal to a broad range of ages. Youngsters will like the cute hamsters but may find some of the events a little too difficult. Adults will find themselves addicting to ensuring that their team has the gold in the next event in order to maximize their dominance in this highly competitive arena. All in all it was a good game and playing new games on the GBA always delights me because the focus is always on gameplay over graphics and that gives me a very nostalgic feeling.