Game Review #412: Hamsterdam (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Steven Green
Developer: Muse Games
Publisher: Muse Games
Category: Action / Fighting
Release Date: 08.01.2019
Price (at time of review): $9.99
Buy Hamsterdam from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Kung Fu Cutie
Hamsterdam is a combo-laden action/fighting title from Muse Games that brings the hammer down on a group of fellow animal friends who have sadly chosen the wrong side in this intense, high action game. You will be racking up the hit combos while looking great with this little hamster friend who is doing the good deeds we all knew he would do. Hamsterdam is in trouble; will you have what it takes to bring the beat down on these nasty vermin, or will things fall to evil? We shall see.
You are Pimm, a loveable hamster with a wicked karate chop. Your grandfather has been taken by the notorious Vermin Gang, and it is up to you to put a stop to their evil crimes. You will move through several areas of Hamsterdam, the city which you call home, while bringing the pain down on any would-be ne’er-do-gooders who get in your way. Marlo is the gang’s leader, and he means to bring an end to the peaceful nature of Hamsterdam, and you can’t let that happen. Hamster-Fu; it’s up to you! We have a classic story here of good versus evil, and the motivation of saving your family that is paramount in any good action flix. This is a tale you can get behind, and although it is the trope of all tropes for kung fu stories, it is one that is still a classic now.
You will move through several districts of Hamsterdam on your journey, each with its own trials and tribulations. Each area offers an increase in difficulty, with enemies donning new armor and weapons as you progress through this one, and with that comes more high-flying combo action. Through the map that is stylized in ways similar to the likes of classic platformers of yesteryear you will find a variety of levels to fight through. You have your basic fight sequences in which you will just mow through enemies with speed and precision, as well as several bonus levels for collecting seeds where you will grab your scooter and move through an endless runner level for bonus cash. You also have boss fights throughout that throw a real wrench in your plans, but nonetheless, this master means business.
Bringing the Fight
In Hamsterdam, you have the basic fight sequence that you will move through in most levels, and it is one you will want to get familiar with quickly, as dodgeballs begin being thrown at you early and often. You have a set of three tiles in front of you that have enemy units waiting for their beatings. Each can be one of the different types of units, and you have the ability to only attack the unit standing directly in front of you (outside of KO’s). In order to take on these enemies you, to state it basically, button mash to your hearts content on the singular attack button to deal a certain amount of damage to defeat your foe. Things get more interesting than that, however, as there are some rhythm mechanics attached to this process. If you complete blows in a certain sequence, then you gain KO power. With this you can deal a lethal blow that takes out one full health bar of an enemy. This is crucial in later fights where the baddies will have several health bars based on how armored they are and is very useful in combo-chaining by taking down the right units. You also maintain combos in these rhythm sessions that increase the damage done per correct blow dealt. This allows for you to not only build up towards the most powerful attack in the game, but to also do a heck of a lot of damage on the way to it.
The opponents in these brawls vary from a basic set of three units. The rat character is the weakest of the bunch but can deal quick attack strikes from behind. You also have a weasel-like character that is the mid-tier unit and can bring forth a fury of blows that need countering. After that we have the gigantic bunny unit that is the beefy tank unit of the Vermin Gang and makes his money by being the hardest to take down. Each unit can be brought down through these sets of basic attack of counters, but the trick comes in the later levels when the armor and weapons are added. Bunnies gain several layers of armor, making the duration they stay in the fight hard to deal with, and the quicker two units remaining come at you from several directions with weaponry that means you need to be on your game with the counters.
Counters are an important part of the game, as they allow for you to maintain your hit combo. This is necessary for achievements and attack strength, and thus striking your counters properly is essential. Counters consist of moving the left stick in certain, time-based directions, as well as hitting buttons at certain times when characters like the weasel come at you with a set of blows. These counters allow for you to not take damage while the enemy is coming at you as well, so keeping this up is just another part of the combo cycle you will find yourself in. Hit, hit, counter, hit, KO.
Beyond the basics of completing each level you also have a set of things you can focus on to break up the monotony of chasing combos all day. You have tasks that include beating a level in a certain amount of time, hitting a certain number of combos or KO’s, and the like. These add a level of replay ability that makes for multiple runs of levels an added challenge, as well as fun new looks at how to get through certain stages. The achievement system here is pretty basic but adds just enough to make multiple playthroughs something of intrigue for anyone who falls in love with the gameplay like I did.
Cosmetics for Pimm
If you like to bring out that fashionista that we all have inside of us, then you will love the classic, kung fu attire that you can add to Pimm’s closet in this title. You have 70’s outfits from karate tales of old, to straight up ninja gear to customize the hero you will be wielding. All of this costs seeds that you gather through completion of levels, bosses, and bonus stages, and it adds some really cool flavor to this title.
Outside of the basic stage you will see in this game, you also have a few unique gameplay mechanics that are added in that allow you for some depth of gameplay, breaks from the monotony, and a way to make some serious moolah. The first type of bonus stage you will encounter is based off of endless runner titles, in which you grab your faithful scooter and avoid enemies while platforming to endless seed power. Seeds adorn these stages, and you have to gather up as much as you can carry. Endless runners aren’t really my cup of tea, but they somehow mesh well with this title, in that it brings a quick little bonus game to play, as well as allowing for a break from the core concept of the game. Not that the core concept is boring or needs a break, but I needed to cool off on some of the spicier levels, and this was something I didn’t have to really think about that was fun enough to make it enjoyable.
You also have the boss battles that take post in each district of Hamsterdam. Most of these boss battles consist of a basic dodge mechanic that you will use in order to avoid damage and utilize help from some of your hamster friends to take down the biggest baddies of the Vermin Gang. You have mini boss battles at crucial locations, as well as major ones before moving on to the next district. The mega level bad guys will fling bombs at you, or try to straight up smash you, but it is up to you to dodge right and left in order to avoid those attack until you can fling a friendly hamster onto the enemy causing them damage. This is the basic loop utilized in all boss battles, and although I wish there was a tad bit more diversity in these bosses it, again, was enough of a break from the regular gameplay, and positioned at the right times to allow for some fun side action before returning to combo heaven.
Comic Book Kung Fu
The aesthetic theme of the game throughout is that of a loveable cartoon, with cute characters drawn all over the place. You also have comic book stylized cut scenes at major happenings throughout the game, and this adds to the flavor of this already charming title. Along with the masterfully animated attack animations you have a game that is just beautifully done from the gameplay to the art design.
Hamsterdam is an entry into the fighting genre that will make people outside of that community give a second look at what is going on here. Although at its heart it is a plain Jane brawler, with a basic combo system, you have a gameplay loop that is extremely rewarding, and is just a good ole’ time as a whole. Great mechanics throughout and just enough breaks from the tedium make for a game that I couldn’t find time to put down. I am not a fan of pure action titles, or fighting games for that matter, but the charm and aesthetic of this title matched with its mastery of gameplay makes for a game I can recommend all give a shot to. Games that break the chain of genres are ones that need to be taken note of, and for me, this game did that with the stale chain of fighting/action titles that come out at a fast pace. Great game; bravo!
Buy Hamsterdam from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Muse Games