The once peaceful town of Hamsterdam is being terrorised by the loathsome Vermin Gang. Enter our hero Pimm, who must become a master in martial arts and who's ready to fight through district after district in order to defeat the Vermin Gang, save his kidnapped grandfather, and bring back peace to Hamsterdam. A big job for a small hamster!
Unsurprisingly, Hamsterdam looks a whole lot like Amsterdam - just ever so slightly more cartoony. The streets are stalked by the aforementioned detestable Vermin Gang, which includes rabbits, mice and other rodents. The Vermin Gang is led by a chinchilla named Marlo, who, it turns out, has beef with your beloved grandfather. It's your job to cleanse the streets of Hamsterdam, your ultimate goal being to defeat mob boss Marlo once and for all. Luckily your old grandfather is a master in the ancient martial art form of Hamster-fu, and he passes his knowledge on to you, and you will learn to swing, beat, swipe, and tap your way to epic wins.
Hamsterdam is best described as a classic arcade brawler mixed with rhythm game mechanics, where you fight paw-to-paw with the plethora of opponents that cross your path. Hamsterdam will be available on several platforms, but we played the PC version, which at the start screen highly recommended that we use a controller. However, just using a mouse and keyboard worked perfectly fine for us; we could still button-mash and swipe our way to victory. The controls are easy to get the hang off, but your reflexes need to be quick! If you time your attacks well, you get into the rhythmic aspect of the game, and swiping and smashing with accurate timing will bring you a great victory. Of course, your enemies won't just let you kick their furry behinds without fighting back; they will attack and counter your moves as well. Despite the combat getting more difficult over time, we rarely got stuck (although our game did once when we were stuck in an infinite loop that wouldn't stop until we restarted the level). Besides this one bug we did not encounter any others.
Combat is spiced because sometimes your enemies will have gadgets to help them fight - although surprisingly enough, they do not use bicycles despite Amsterdam being the bicycle capital of the world. Instead, the animals in Hamsterdam seem to prefer scooters. Don't fret, though, as it's not just your enemies that can gear up; you can dress up your hamster hero in order to enhance your chances of winning. For example, you can put your hamster in some fine apparel in the form of couture jackets. Or why not equip an apple, for everyone knows wearing an apple on your head vastly increases your chances of winning a fight (disclaimer: results may vary)!
Seeds are the in-game currency used to purchase gear. You earn seeds by fighting, and how many you'll get depends on how well you complete the level. You can earn up to three stars per level (think Angry Birds), which of course grants you the largest amount of seeds.
The animation befits the game, as Hamsterdam is not the most serious of titles, and the cartoony designs go well with this style. Battle scenes are smooth and the high-pitched "hiiiYA" noises from our hamster hero Pimm is a funny finishing touch. Those who are familiar with Amsterdam will definitely recognise the scenery, from the iconic canals to the (in)famous red light district, you'll fight all over the city.
As mentioned before, Hamsterdam will be available on different platforms (Nintendo Switch, PC, Android and iOS, respectively), and playing in short bursts on the Switch might be the way to go as it can get repetitive over time. If you want to try before you buy, there's even a playable demo that'll let you take a look before investing (we tried it out and it does indeed give players a good idea of the game mechanics and a taste of its all-round silliness).
If all this rodent-filled fighting sounds wacky to you, you'd be right - Hamsterdam is a delightfully wacky beat-em-up in all the right ways. To quote head animator Derek Chow, Hamsterdam is "inspired by eighties kung-fu movies, the perspectives of The Wire, Amsterdam in the famed Pulp Fiction scene, and... Ratatouille.", which about describes the game perfectly. If you ever had the oddly specific goal of visiting the red light district as a hamster on a scooter, well, this is your chance.