As many games nowadays, Henry the Hamster Handler does not make any concessions in throwing you into the action without a story or tutorial. But the game itself is pretty self-explanatory. But I wondered. Why am I doing this after all? Of course, we want others to survive, but… does the game have some point?
Yes. Yes, it does. It is never mentioned in the game, but on the Nintendo eShop, it says the following: The ancient art of alchemy, a long-forgotten lore… Until now. Join the team of Hamsters Inc. As they delve into the practice and reveal that hamsters must endure as many near-death experiences as possible and over time the little furry balls of fun turn into bronze, silver, and gold! It’s your job to ensure that they survive the ordeal before they get melted down and turned into a fancy pair of earrings!
… I will never look at my jewellery the same way again.
Honestly, I am not even sure how many different music tracks Henry the Hamster Handler has. I would think three, but I turned off the volume pretty fast. Who am I kidding? The soundtrack in Henry the Hamster Handler sure cannot compare to Final Fantasy and Zelda. The impression is pretty clear on that, and I never had any big expectations on the game in this regard. The music gets repetitive especially with 300 levels in total.
The sound effects are limited to the voices of the hamster and the ones produced by the several kinds of traps. There is also a voice which indicates the buttons you have to push to save these poor souls of their preliminary doom.
Visuals & Performance
The visuals are quite basic. With a few various images like a sky or a gemstone mine (?) bringing alternate options to the background, the stages all have a similar construction. Often, there are long paths of wooden crates with pitfalls scattered in them. You have different hamsters in grey, a reddish-orange and brown colors moving around the stage. I got to say that the visuals did not blew me off my chair, but with a kind of arcade puzzle rhythm game Lemmings style, you do not need too many exciting graphics.
The game works fine in all modes (tablet, handheld and TV) and never crashed on me.
As I mentioned before, your goal is to ensure the safe (?) escape of the little fur balls. You have a bunch of hamsters starting at point A and you have to lead them safely to point B. Thrown in between are obstacles as acid pits, spiky walls and some other things that result in one and the same thing: death. To avoid that, you have to tap the indicated buttons at the right time.
If you are hitting buttons like right, up or X and A too soon, a percentage on the right top screen will drop. This ensures to not being able to cheat while repeatedly tapping the same button and also getting into the rhythm. Overall, the game developer thought their stages through well. Often I ended up tapping, for example, down, and it was counting for two individual hamsters to be rescued. That little feature saves you from early frustration pretty well. I mean, you have to beat 300 levels after all!
The percentage also sets a goal for you. If you drop under the appointed 65 % percent during your attempt, the stage will end in failure. This happens with you tapping the wrong button and letting a hamster die as well as tapping a button too early. See why you cannot just tap buttons randomly? It is a clever way to prevent people from cheating here and rushing through a stage. How do you know when to press a button? Drop-down visual indicators and a voice prompt will let you know when you have to do your job.
The difficulty level rises for sure, but for my liking a little bit too slowly. On the later stages of 50 and beyond, I managed to fail more often (and not because a hamster ran through the front of the screen), but it was still manageable. Waiting for the last hamster to cross the finish line in a long tunnel between crates can be slightly annoying, but that is what you got to expect here after all. So it is not really a bad flaw to pick on. If you grew up with Lemmings like I did, you can relate to that.
Now let’s talk about the best thing we all got: money. With a price of $ 3.69 USD or 2.49 GPB, the title is a bargain. But would I actively go up to my friends and suggest that game to them? My answer would be no. I got far in that game, but I still have to make some progress to finish the game entirely. I have to admit that. But my motivation would not have been as strong as it was to proceed that far if I hadn’t been playing it for SwitchWatch. Pocket Money Games really lives up to their name here. You get a lot of content for little money, but it is like it is with so many games out there: you have to love the genre.
Introductory Level Game
A Lot Of Content For Low Price
Too Many Levels With Too Little Substance
Who the heck is Henry?