The game "Wandering Hamster" is being made by Bob the Hamster (James), who also made the OHR Engine. The demo got an update in 2016, the game page informs on the content that was added or changed. Among there change notes there is written"Replaced James with Misa DuHamstre". I don't know the "James"-Version, but I think another hamster, and a girl as 2nd hero is a nice idea.
"Wandering Hamster" is a demo and therefore unfinished. Still, it is quite some hours of gameplay, therefore also the review is a bit longer.
The wiki says that the first demo was released in 1997 (source). Wow!
While the castle is conquered by evil neighbour king Broaste and the good king Hasmin is overthrown, Bob the hamster decided to have a lazy day and do nothing. So Bob went to see the pilp tamer and then in the town to meet his friend Misa. The people living near the castle heard the fighting sounds and were worried. Bob then traveled to the castle to check what's going on, but the guard were doing their job exceptionally well and did not allow Bob to enter the castle.
So Bob got Misa and they both went into the castle to rescue King Hasim, who was locked up in the tower. They also met a dog named Dusty. Together with Hasim they fought Lord Bostate and as a reward were allowed to pick one treasure from the kings treasure collection.
With Brostate gone, there seems to be a castle waiting for a new owner.
Misa and Bob go to claim the castle, on the way they bring Dusty to his house. (You can battle a stress cat there).
To get to Brostate's castle one has to pass the troll mountains.It's quite an adventure.
Brostate still has his loyal guards, whom he paid in advance for a month. So, the castle is not as empty as expected. Also is is spooked by Brostate's ghost.
Misa and Bob are attacked by the ghost and loose the fight. After that they meet Brostate's grandmother, who asks them to save her misguided grandson. The hamsters search the castle for an object that will remind Brostate of his past and younger self. Doing so they dress up as a guard. (The dialogues were fun!). They discover a well hidden treasure, a teddy bear. It can be used as weapon as well.
Misa declares herself ruler of Misaland. And Bob becomes Sir Bob, a knight.
Soon or rather immediately after that two strangers who seek Brostate's help come to Misa, they need soldiers to help them fight in the Forest Gallopeg. Both of them seem to be cats, ninja casts.
So Bob joins the two cats on a quest. And is bitterly betrayed... Bob gets swallowed by a giant snake, while the two ninja cats escape. (I took a look at their home town, a quite interesting, but ruinous place.) Nowhere they sold Mage items, that meant going all the way back to the first town. The enemies in the forest look okay-ish, but some look ugly.
The next stage takes place inside the giant snake Jormungandling.
Tasty Ducks, Surfing on Blood plasm and mini golfing inside a snake, just then you think it can not get any more wierd this game proves you wrong.
After that golf course of horror, Bob finally finds new company, a viking with a love for telling stories (lies) who bravely conquered the snake. After batteling the snake and making it
vomit the ship is spit out and Bob and his new companion drown heroically.
That's when the demo officially ends.
Phew. That was a lot. And is seems like one can even explore the under water part.
**Bravo! Great Design!**
I really liked ...
- - the sound effects for talking voices! (Personality to the characters, yeah! )
- Misa's walkabout sprite changes if she's wearing the magic ribbon
- the various enemy types and transmogrifications in the castle(s)
- the scrolling effect in the troll's mountains
- The animation of torches in the castle - they seem to make a flickering fire light - cool!
- the teddy bear idea!
- The mini golfing game was great! An explaination on how to play it might have ben helpfull. But after figuring out how it works, it was a lot of fun!
- I really liked the enemy sprite of Monkeymagi!
**Things that could be improved:**
- - The fire "Inn" in the troll mountains costs nothing. Why ask to use an Inn? Maybe not use the build-in feature here.
- The Ninja cats do not fit well to the rest of the sprites. They don't look bad but their style is very diffrent from the other sprites.
- The names for the attacks of Skeppio: Kaeru and KaeruMinna, What is Kaeru supposed to mean? It can mean return (to a place) or to return something (book to library), also it can mean to change/replace. To heal would be naosu.
- The names of the attacks of Rathmara: LebenSuchen (Suchen means Search)
- Why is there no Mage Item (MP-Potion) in the shop of Brostate's castle nor in the cat's hometown Ixnekolan? (I had to walk back to Flanat Town.)
- Move the entrance of the Gallopeg forest from the area that is covered with overhead tiles to a place where one can see the heros. You immediately walk out of the forest if you press the upper arrow key, but it's not clear where you are because you can not see the way or the heros. Although it is shown later in game, maybe start with a small path that is party covered by greens, so the player can guess that the green can be passed. I walked out of the forest by accident for a few times!
- On Battles: In the beginning one gets to few exp or the enemies are to strong. The battles take to a bit to long.
- Some of the enemy sprites in gallopeg forest could do better with a newly drawn enemy sprite. Althoug they look comic-like, (firepilp and ) they look not as good as other enemy sprites.
- On the mini map (F1) of the troll mountains the scrolling back ground is visible. It looks a bit odd on the mini map. Maybe open the mini map shown ingame on use of F1 on that map.
The game has a friendly comic like tune, that is created by the drawing style of comic characters, the use of a very bright palette for outside maps. It suits the theme of a world about castles and talking Hamsters well.
The battles were a bit long, especially in the beginning. Either one gets used to it or later battles are faster. The battle design of enemies was great! There was a lot use of transmogrifications among the evil knights, very cool! The water bubble would damage their shield or weapons and they change their behaviour accordingly.
The first part of the plot up to where Misa and Bob take Brostate's Castle seems quite consistent and takes quite a while. After Misa became ruler of the castle the first part seems finished. There is a lot of dialogue between Bob and Misa and also from the townsfolk and guards the player can gather hints about the plot or just random talk.
The second part of the game, where Bob travels with the cats feels like it was stuck to the first part of the game: It feels a bit inconsistent, in graphics as well as in regard to word building. The style of sprite graphics is different, especially noticeable on the ninja cats portraits graphics compared to Bob and Misa's graphics. (Did the cats make talking sounds?) Also it feels more rushed. There is less focus on dialogue and character building. Even Brostate and Hasim seem to have more personality -and most likely more lines of speech- than these two new companiongs of Bob. Skeppio and Rathmara, (nice names by the way) seem more flat than Misa. It might be due to the fact that they are not very talkative and more focused on their plan, but this is something that could be improved. Also their betrayal would feel way more worse, if one got to know them and like them better. Maybe entering the forest could be more difficult, for example the way could be blocked, or the path through the forest is just way longer. Anyhow Bob should spend more time with them, and there should be more happening to the three of them, so that the cat ninjas can display more personality of their own.
I would suggest to either add in Flanat Town some info on the cats culture or something similar (a tourist group maybe?), so it feels less surprising that these creatures suddenly show up. An other suggestion would be to split the game in two parts.
The part inside Jourgramundling felt odd, well, walking around inside a giant snakes feels odd, so it's probably the right impression here. There ducks were a cool idea, walking and fighting only with Bob was also a new game play feel, although Bob has been travelling alone in the first part of the game as well, but now the surrounding (snake) felt far more dangerous and I had gotten used to the company of Misa. So I was happy that Bob found the viking in the end.
The mini golfing was a really cool mini game! At first it was a bit hard to figure of how it works. A helpfull NPC or a sign explaining the rules would not be a bad idea.
The game ended with a scene underwater. So I guess next the Bob will explore a reef. I am not sure if I like the way the plot is going. If the plan was to make an odyssey like game of Bob traveling home, then the first part of the game gives a wrong impression.
Personally I'd prefer if the game went on in a style fitting to the first part of the game, Bob playing knight and doing knight-like things, with more focus on NPCs. In the first part there were NPC talking about each other - a knight about the king or the kings carpet. This is something that got somewhat lost in the later part of the game. That made the first part of Wandering Hamster so much fun. An Odyssey like game might easily render characters unimportant because the heros just steps by and move on.
All in all, the game was fun to play and the demo is quite long. The funny tone and the comic graphics get along well. There are many nicely written, funny scenes. Also the game makes good use of plot scripting, it comes with a cool intro scene, a mini golfing mini game, and many cut scenes. Characters are displayed with their own personality, they make sounds while talking. The game ends at an interesting point. It is hard to say what way the plot will evolve,- will Bob easily get home to the castle or will he go on a long journey to go home? I'd like to find out, so I'm looking forward for the next demo!