Flying Hamster Review- Flahaaay!
We know that horizontal shoot-em-ups are about to explode into the minis’ scene from now onwards, and Game Atelier’s Flying Hamster will be the first of them all to be criticized or praised depending on its performance.
I will announce that I am not really a fan of shmups. Given that bias, I would try with all my best not to let my prejudice cloud my objectivity. Flying Hamster is…so cute! Newton and his girlfriend is so adorable I want to grab them out of my PSP screen and keep them as pets!
Opening the game, you will be presented with the background story on why Newton the Flying Hamster is on a mission to battle countless enemies across five levels. Apparently, Newton and his girlfriend were having fun on a beach and then they found a big nut semi-buried on the shore. They both celebrated the discovery and then boom, Newton’s girlfriend was snatched by a bird. And now, Newton is poised to do all things necessary to retrieve his girlfriend.
The main characteristic that jumps out of this game is its game art. The graphics are sharp, well-done and the colors are alive. Even the background spread tells a story. In the first level, you will be fighting your way through a forest. Behind the chaos, there are cats getting drunk in what could only be explained as a bar, you can see cats fighting and a cat vomiting behind a bush. In the second level, you will fight Egyptian penguins which enslave whales to build pyramids. The background is not static, it’s dynamic like a breathing creature. The music will remind you of Japanese arcade games with the beat and its actual mood and it’s pretty fitting for this kind of game.
For a shmup to be considered playable, there are two things to consider: controls and collision. The controls are absolutely fantastic. You’ll find Newton exactly where you wanted him to be amidst the confusion and projectiles by using the analog stick. Pressing X will let you shoot, O for auto-shoot but you can always change it in the Options to suit your needs.
Collision, of course, is perfect. One thing I hate about shmups is when you find yourself dying on a pixel protruding out of your enemies’ borderlines. Here, collision is well-implemented and now you are to worry exclusively for a direct crash with the enemies not from a petty pixel swipe. Since we are in a discussion about collision, many would point this out with hostility: Flying Hamster has no ground collision.Yup, that’s right, this will make the game so much easier if you could curl yourself in the four corners or duck all the way down to your screen.
There are two modes, the normal mode and the hard mode. The normal mode is so easy it won’t take a lot time before you cruise and exhaust to the end of it. Completing the normal mode will let you unlock the hard mode.
You will be given credits. You’ll have three lives (hearts) for each credit. One thing that bothers me a lot is that the score will reset back to zero if you exhaust a single credit. So the scoring system is more of how well you perform within a credit not how long you kept yourself into the game. You will receive additional credits along the way but I can’t seem to pin down the qualifications on why the game rewards you that way.
Enemies are very varied. You will face several different animals doing ridiculous things. My favorite is the penguins with their casual umbrellas. My theory is the game wants to pack too many things at once that you’ll find a single opponent variant appear only for a few seconds, destructible environments occur few and far between and the powerups only change aesthetically.
Your default weapon is spit, and you can charge it up to use its more powerful version by holding on to X until the bar on the upper right corner shines. You can get powerups, sprinkled across the game. One nice thing about this game is the powerups blend with the environment. The sunflower seeds are from the sunflowers, berries are to be picked from the bushes and fishballs are on the mouth of the Japanese. I mentioned earlier these powerups are repeating themselves, they just changed their packaging. Example is the egg bomb in the first level is essentially the squid bomb in the second level.
This is a happy game, well except the hard mode part, it’s not really hard as a difficulty. I came rushing towards the boss in the first level without losing a heart. But it took me a long long while to kill the boss because its HP is ridiculously spiked! However, the hard mode comes after the first level since you are going to get what “hard” means (unlike the normal mode, the hard mode will not allow “continue” if you lose all your credits, you’re back to square one). Worth mentioning though, aside from the spiked health points, more swarms of enemy, and more projectiles spraying all over in the hard mode compared to the normal mode; the placement of the powerups and the backdrop are also tweaked, it will be a new experience in gameplay and in visual content.
There are surprises here and there and you will be laughing, more than twice. The graphics indeed is gorgeous you will be amazed how much work they put in it just by looking through the backdrop, the change of pacing, everything, and controls, the most important, are top-notch. This is a light and easy game, with amazing array of variety in each level. It’s a short game, but a fun one with a surprising replay value. We are not talking about the cuteness of these hamsters yet, which includes a humorous story for you to discover.