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Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games

by Ty Shughart - September 7, 2004, 9:26 pm PDT


A little too close to Ham-Ham Xtreme Volleyball.

Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games offers quite a departure from the prior Hamtaro games. No more talking puzzles and Ham-chat keywords! Instead, the game is a collection of Olympic-like sporting events with a focus on strategy, timing, and reflexes. If that doesn't catch your attention, the fact that the game is designed by AlphaDream (of Mario & Luigi fame) should.

Four teams compete for the most medals in fifteen events. The player controls the Ham-Hams, the familiar lot of hamsters from the cartoon show. The competing teams? There's the Sea-Hams, a piratey lot of seafaring hamsters; they mention things like "yar" and "keelhauling." They totally rock. There's Djungle, a youngish lot of animal-suit-wearing Hams. There's also Team Rainbow, whose special ability is being extra cute or something. Each Ham is well animated and has the usual crazy assortment of expressions, like ridiculously cute eye glimmers or literally burning with competitive spirit.

Here's a rundown of events:

  • 100 hm dash: This is a timing game; the player stops the cursor in the red for maximum speed. As the Ham's speed increases, the cursor moves faster.

  • Tennis: This plays just like Mario Tennis. 'A' does a standard return. 'B' performs a huge lob. You can do an overhead swing if the ball is overhead.

  • Hammer Throw: This is one of the trickier timing games. Oxnard whirls the hammer around, and the player must hold A during, and only during, half of the rotation, and then release it. The more speed you build up, the farther the hammer will go. Holding 'A' too early or too late will cause a failure.

  • Diving: This event challenges the player to quickly react to each button command for completing each part of Cappy's choreographed dive.

  • Beach Volleyball: Players block, spike, serve, and set - it's a whole Volleyball game.

  • Hurdles: Tap 'A' to build up speed and hold 'B' to jump. Starting the run at the perfect time after a jump yields a speed boost.

  • Bird-Back Riding: This is pretty cool; Penelope rides a grounded bird that must hop over a series of obstacles and speed around a track.

  • Pole Vault: Tap 'A' in a rhythm to build up speed, and time the lodge and dismount in slow motion.

  • Carrot Pull: Pull carrots without breaking them by using proper timing; the team with the most weight in carrots wins.

  • Swimming: A four-hamster swimming relay; each Ham uses a different combination of buttons and different timing. Master all four to win the event.

  • Archery: Try to guide a wavering cursor to the bullseye. It's tricky!

  • Sailing: Keep the wind in your sails and race the other sailboats around buoys.

  • Triple Jump: Tap A to the rhythm of the marks on the ground to build up speed; then time the jumps to get maximum distance.

  • Synchronized Swimming: Help Penelope follow Pashmina's lead by following the marks with the rhythm. The song is pretty cool!

  • Marathon: A personal favorite and the grand finale event - follow the drumming beat with the 'A' button to build up speed. There is a new, harder rhythm for each leg of the race.

    The difficulty can be adjusted before each event, and the player can do as many practice rounds as they feel like. The first attempt will probably end in a dismal failure; it takes at least a few tries to get a good feel for each event. A player can try it "for real" after gaining confidence in their ability. It took a certain seasoned gamer quite a few practice rounds to get enough for the gold in most events.

    Sadly, the game doesn't have link play; it only has a goofy feature called 'Player Cards.' You can, uh, dress up a generic Ham and write a happy little message and then send it to your friends. I'm sure I'd just write something obscene and send it to my friend, except that I don't know anyone my age who would be playing it, let alone making Friend Cards.

    The lack of link play makes the game’s replay value pretty slim. After finishing the game, though, you can play any event at any time in Free Play mode and try to beat the world records, which is pretty fun. If it had a little more to it, it'd definitely be worth buying. As it stands, it's maybe worth buying at best. It's definitely very fun, but short...

  • Score

    Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
    7.5 7.5 9 8 4 7.5

    Colorful and well-animated, the many expressions of the Ham-Hams definitely liven up the game.


    While most of the game's sound and music isn't particularly special, working with the music in the rhythm games is really cool.


    Controls are excellent - this is the "good" kind of track & field game that doesn't rely on smashing the buttons as fast as possible. Games are generally based on rhythm and timing, reflex, or free-roving sports (tennis, volleyball). The control is great for each and every event.


    This game has defeated the nagging problems in both the previous Hamtaro games and other track & field games. There's no running around the entire map looking for the right hamster to talk to, just getting to the event and right into some real gameplay.


    The game doesn't seem particularly replayable after finishing all of the events, but there are World Record scores that the player can shoot for. The Link functions are pretty useless, since you can't actually play against other players.


    Despite it being too short and not having real multiplayer, Ham-Ham Games has great gameplay for both little kids and even hardened pros.


    • Each event is definitely fun; no 'dud' events
    • Gameplay uses timing, reflex, skill, etc., instead of button smashing
    • None of the Ham-chat puzzles from the previous games
    • No Link play
    • Player Cards aren't very useful or interesting
    • Too short
    Review Page 2: Conclusion

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    Genre Sports
    Developer AlphaDream Corporation

    Worldwide Releases

    na: Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games
    Release Jul 26, 2004
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