I am not particularly enamoured with minis, there are one or two good games but for the most part they seem to be very basic with little in the way of design or presentation so it’s a very nice surprise to find Flying Hamster is oozing in quality.
The game starts with a small animated intro that shows Ms. Hamster discovering a sparkly gem and the moments later getting kidnapped. Cue our hero donning some flying goggle and a pair of leaves to become the titular Flying Hamster. Before the game starts you can configure the game with multiple languages, button configuration and volume controls, a nice touch that is missing from many mini titles.
Whilst you are playing about with the options the music will kick in and it is utterly superb. As I am writing this I have it playing at full volume; it is the perfect music for a shooter and brings back happy memories of the Sega Megadrive era, in fact the whole game looks and sounds like a classic Megadrive game.
Upon the starting the game a small tutorial explains the game mechanics – one button to shoot and hold another one down to build up a powerful shot – and the first level starts with another excellent piece of music reminiscent of the first Green Zone music from Sonic. The game is a simple sideways scolling shooter but given a fresh twist by ditching aliens and technology in favour of fruit, ninja cats and annoyed seagulls who like to crap on your head.
You basic weapon is rather uncouth spitting but you can pick up many power ups including apples (split shot), honey (homing bees) and beer (laser beam). In turn these can be used as single shots or charged up in to one big shot. Other weapons such as Bananas (which act like boomerangs) can be powered up to create a circling shield of yellow fruit.
The design of the enemies is brilliantly original and yet familiar, all rendered in bright colours with a touch of humour. Some of my favourites include the heavily lactating cow and the first boss battle – a giant mushroom who whips off his ‘hat’ to fling at you revealing a bright green mohican. The backgrounds feature a number of layers of parallax scrolling and occasional background animations which are rather amusing – cats having a bar fight and barfing on the floor.
At the end of the first level Flying Hamster rescues his beloved only for her to whisked away buy a penguin. “Ah,” I think, “must be a snow level coming up.” But no, it’s penguins in the Egyptian desert. Apparently penguins built the Pyramids with the help of a rather hot and sweaty killer whale.
The second level introduces more classic shoot ‘em up elements such as multiple pathways and having to shoot doors and scenery out of the way before you can proceed. Level three switches to a street in Japan, which seems to be a cheeky homage to the backdrops from fighters such as Street Fighter and Streets Of Rage, and allows you to swoop past a Geisha girl and steal her plate of juicy octopus to spit at enemies. The boss battle is a gay ninja mouse complete with leather cap and sparkly rainbow attack. To quote Dizzee Rascal, “Bonkers!”. I wont reveal anymore as it’s a joy discovering what weird and wonderful enemy will appear next.
The game features six levels with some nice variations in game play, at one point the scrolling speeds up to Sonic levels and you navigate a high speed maze, in a sequence lifted from Amiga classic ‘Turrican’. The difficulty ramps up nicely and if like me you have been yearning for a slice of old skool shoot ‘em action it fits the bill. The game is available now in the PS Store for £5.99.
- Old skool shoot ‘em up action.
- Bright colourful graphics and wonderful groovy music.
- A wicked sense of humour.
- Well presented for a mini.
- Slightly pricey for a mini.
- Only six levels, a few more would of been welcome.
I think the biggest compliment I can give The Flying Hamster is that I that I forgot I was playing a mini. Compared to other minis it is rather expensive at £5.99, but there again compared to other minis it’s well designed and perfectly polished.