Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Hamtaro,Ham-Ham Heartbreak

Hamtaro is probably one of my first anime that wasn't Pokemon. I was either scared or disinterested in most of the anime that ran during the Toonami block. So I turned to the adventure of that little orange hamster and his friends. I don't remember much of the show but really that not what I'm here to talk about. I would talk about it more but that would require me to re watch all 296 episodes and ain't nobody got time for that. Instead I'll be looking at it's video game tie-ins. The first one being Hamtaro:Ham Ham Heartbreak.

Technically it is the third game in the series and the second one released outside Japan. The first one being Ham Hams Unite for the Game boy Color which I'll get back to soon enough. Either way it was released in 2003 for the Game boy Advanced and is sort of a hidden gem for a system with a library full of found gems. That was a joke...moving on.

Hamtaro:Ham Ham Heartbreak is an adventure game that focuses less on item collection to solve puzzles and more on using words and actions.Ham Chats, a carry over from Ham Hams Unite, are the words used to solve the various problems of the hamsters.The beginning of the game explains why Hamtaro doesn't have his extensive vocabulary from last time(Spoiler:he's a klutz). All the words let Hamtaro and Bijou interact with the world and achieve their goals. Most of them have a few specific uses outside of the handful Boss teach you in the intro. As a side note Hamtaro does not seem to care if what is happening around him,if he learns a new Ham Chat then by god is he going to pull out his dictionary and write it down. Someone is crying their eyes out,screw them they just taught me how to say cry better record it real quick. I find it kind of funny.

So Ham Chats are puzzle solvers but what kind of puzzles are we solving. It's love,your basically hamster cupid and have to get hamsters to fall into or back into love. You do this by either giving people something or helping people out with a Ham chat word. That's basically the whole game and it's actually pretty fun. All the puzzles are creative if a bit on the simple side(it is a kid's game). It helps that the game is fairly short with six stages ,so the concept doesn't wear out it's welcome. There are three different ending sequences to get for fixing all the loves,beating the final boss and learning all the Ham chats. The game has a few more side things but they are mostly just for fun such as playing dress up or finding gems.

If I have to nit-pick it's that some of the puzzles can be slightly obtuse such as peeing on a fake reflection to make it lose it's cool.Luckily nothing approaching the normal moon logic this kind of game tends to run on. Then there is the fact that you have to sit through a short animation every time you want to pick something up in a room. Also Hamtaro and Bijou make this annoying squeaking sound with every step they take and it can be grating. However this are still nit picks and don't ruin an other wise solid experience.

The story is pretty simple:There is a hamster named Spat who hates love and you have to go around cleaning up his messes with the help of his nemesis,Harmony. This game is shipping Hamtaro with Bijou so she joins up and together you fight for love. Spat has no motivation beyond being a jerk but he does break down as the game goes on moving from simple rumor mongering to theft and finally attempted murder. I have a hard time believing that some characters actually trust a guy who looks like Satan in hamster form. His counterpart Harmony gets the same amount of back story and comes off as a bit loony. One could argue that her and Spat are in an alternate reality game that got way out of hand. Either that or God and Satan just got bored and decided to screw with some hamsters. It's not that complex a story but it works.Hey, it is better than the last game which is go find everybody because Boss said so. Most of the show's cast make appearances and despite not having seen this show in years I was still squealing like a 9 year old girl every time I saw one of them.

The story does explore the different kinds of love and is pretty open minded about love from friendship to romance to sibling love. I think they have a gay couple in one area that you help out but that may just be me being hopeful or them being vague on some hamster's genders. Hamtaro and Bijou play well off each other and their little love scene at the end is adorable.

The graphics and animations have been upgraded from Unite and some Ham chats have a little more complex animations now. The game looks more like the show with everything being bright and colorful and every important hamster being unique. The areas are all your basic settings(mountain,beach,jungle etc.) from a hamster 's perspective which adds a nice touch to things and lends it self to some cool looking areas. The music is nice if nothing special and you can set a dance to most of the BGM if you find the track in the levels.

For the most part licensed games tend to get a bad rap and to be fair quite a few deserve the reputation. This is definitely not one of them and deserves a look for anyone who wants a good time.

Till next time Stay Positive

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