Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Adam Riley 14.12.2004 7

Hamtaro is a fad that has yet to break Britain completely, much to the relief of many, but it continues to prove immensely popular across the rest of the world and thus has now had numerous games based around the hamster 'anime' series. Now, after a delay to receive the Olympics tie-in, we are being treated to AlphaDream's second GBA iteration, Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue. But can the developer continue the success it had with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga?

The game has a rather basic premise, but sets up the field of play perfectly, in all honesty. Hamtaro is wandering around, meeting up with friends and being annoyingly cute as usual, when everybody quickly stops as a beautifully bright and colourful rainbow appears in the sky. All of a sudden a Ham-Ham, named Bo, drops from the sky and lands with a thud in front of them. Shocked, they take him to the main village, where he quickly tells them how he needs to travel back home using his magical Rainbow Umbrella. Obviously the Ham-Hams are skeptical, so he goes to show them, twirling his umbrella majestically. However this is all to no avail as there are no longer any colours on the travelling apparatus. Therefore, he offered a helping hand by the loveable hamsters in finding the seven pure colours he requires to get it working again...See? Truly *cough* epic *cough*...

The Hamtaro series has not evolved too much since Ham-Hams Unite on the Game Boy Colour. However, that is not to say the games are in any way ugly...far from it! Everything is bright, bold and pretty with a nice variety of backgrounds, stylised hamsters types and clever little animations. This latest game is by no means pushing the GBA hardware, but is no slouch either when compared to the multiple film franchises that are churned out and laid upon the general public. AlphaDream knows how to be simplistic, yet effective and Rainbow Rescue is a wonderful example of this, just like Mario & Luigi was before it. Unfortunately there are slight noticeable differences between this and its successor Ham-Ham Games, in that there was more sharpness to that title. But that is just a petty quibble...

Screenshot for Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue on Game Boy Advance

This might surprise you, but the soundtrack is very catchy indeed and not just full of stacks of mindless repetitive children's music. Again, I refer you back to the marvellous plumber RPG, Superstar Saga and highlight that the quality in soundtrack from that title appears here as well, showing that it was not simply a fluke or a case of being able to work closely with Nintendo that helped the team flourish. 'Chirpy' is the key descriptive word, but you will be amazed at how some of the tunes stick in your head and refuse to let go. Playing this on the Game Boy Player, as recommended on the start-up screen means you can experience the quality through your stereo and this is where it shines. Just beware the annoying squeaks and squeals of joy that the hamsters emit, as they do grate...a lot!

Screenshot for Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue on Game Boy Advance

Now, you might get a little confused here, but Rainbow Rescue was actually released before the Ham-Ham Games that hit UK stores back in July. Before you call me crazy, it was because Nintendo delayed the release of this new game so much for the West that it had to push out the Olympic-themed sports title quickly to coincide with the world-wide event. Just think, the US release still is not due until early next year, so count yourself lucky! Both games play extremely differently, however, with Rainbow Rescue being akin to a light RPG experience for the younger folk out there.

Taking control of Hamtaro, you head off on the mission to find the seven colours of the rainbow in order to help Bo return from whence he came. Along the way you meet up with various other Ham-Hams who either provide information and games for you to complete, or require your assistance before joining your ever expanding party (a team of six is not uncommon here at all). Everything starts off extremely simple, with progression being a mere case of talking to each of the Hams on-screen and moving past a simple puzzle or mini-game. However, as the game moves on and lulls you into that false feeling of Rainbow Rescue being solely for the under-tens market, the difficulty factor kicks up a notch. Now I am not talking Metroid Prime 2: Echoes levels of difficulty here, but certainly enough to mildly take you by surprise.

Very soon you will be faced with trying to remember where that random log was earlier in the game, because suddenly you are faced with an incomplete bridge with no other way round. Or you will come across certain areas where you need to climb up to higher regions in order to move on, but find that you simply do not have enough Ham-Hams in your current line-up to climb on top of each other and scale the heights required. So off you trot, trying to find another critter to join your troop.

Screenshot for Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue on Game Boy Advance

And then there are the mini-games, which are tests of your reflexes

Screenshot for Hamtaro: Rainbow Rescue on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

AlphaDream, as you may have guessed from the review, is a very strong company that has managed to craft a technically impressive and surprisingly fun GBA game about hamsters. Now, you tell me how many other developers would even try something like that? With the game being on general release for a quite a while across Europe now, but only in limited numbers since the end of November in the UK due to a lack of interest here, this could be the last Hamtaro we see for quite a while. So snap it up whilst you can!

Developer

AlphaDream

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Folks, be wary that this is the first backwards step of NoE not releasing a game in the UK due to its lack of sales. It might happen again...and we can't afford to lose major franchises like Metroid Prime, Paper Mario 2 or other RPGs like Tales of Symphonia and Baten Kaitos...

Plus, anyway, Rainbow Rescue's not a bad little game for your brother or sister after you've given it a whirl!

Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Better infact.
Dunno about this one lots of RPGs on GBA to keep me busy what with FF1and2 and Kingdom hearts on the GBA
(Still havnt beaten FFTA><)

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

Mario & Luigi is one of the best RPGs, if not games full stop, on the GBA to date. I wasn't criticising it in the slightest, merely stating how AlphaDream has a knack of using a simplistic style and yet still creates a magnificent end result.

Sure, this won't make the records books, but it certainly passed by a few boring hours! :Smilie

This is for the younger folk out here, and only really a back-up choice this Christmas. But a nice back-up...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

RedKing - you better have crossed yourself when you typed FF:TA Smilie

I had one of my greatest gaming experiences ever with that game. On a Gameboy Player and swapping round the controller, that game's better than FF:CC for multiplayer.

7 hours, we played it for. Straight.

Good times, good times :-D

I may have to get this for my sis, she is one of the those kids that has been brain washed by those talking hamster freaks...with the freaky eyes... :eek:

You'll notice a slight amendment at the beginning to replace 'UK' since I've been informed that Amazon UK only sourced a few copies from its European central store. It has not received a UK release at all due to disastrous sales of Ham-Hams Unite on the GBC as well as Ham-Ham Heartbreak and Ham-Ham Games on the GBA!

Perhaps trying eBay might be the best option... :roll:

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Does anyone actullayu want this game? :bent:

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