Puzzle games are a genre that is pretty hit or miss, its not a big surprise that a lot of unique puzzle games don’t really come out anymore, and its mostly rehashes, Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Sudoku, ect are games that get multiple releases each generation with a slightly different slap of paint on them.
So it is nice to see a new puzzle game come out, and one that doesn’t try to copy the rest, that isn’t a 3 block matcher or some similar styled game, because who doesn’t like a bit of a puzzle game every now and then. However, it isn’t all great.
I’m going to say this right now, this is the sort of game you would expect to find on a mobile device, I am not sure it really deserves to be on the switch outside of the face that it would 100% be ignored on a mobile platform due to the amount of games released per day. This is a game that doesn’t need physical controls, it doesn’t need to be on the switch, the price is inflated because its on the switch probably to try and re-coup the publishing fee, if it was on phones this would be a £1 app and even then you would feel like you paid too much.
This is a game that isn’t exactly a technical marvel, it isn’t exactly fun to be honest, this is the sort of app you would give to a young child to keep them occupied on a long car journey, and to be honest even then it wouldn’t keep them for that long, it is a boring, bland and generic puzzle game that does little difference.
That is not to say the actual series is that bad, the steam version? Oh boy an actual game, with full VR support, interesting minigames and turns the whole game onto its head for the price, if you are a fan of the PC version or like the look of the PC version, well, stay there and never look over here at all please.
However, one of my biggest gripes here is the graphics on the switch, now we know 2D games can look amazing on the PS2, hell some PS1 titles still hold up today, so I really am wondering why the graphics in this game looks like an educational game released in the late 90’s. This is not a game you would want to be showing off your company, and I am willing to bet it is not selling well on the Switch because of the shoddy graphics, it feels like a rushed job, with very little detail In any of the sprites and feels more like a cash grab for the younger children who like cheap games and bright colours.
So what is the gameplay when it comes down to it, the Hamsters walk along a track, similar to how lemmings come down at you, and along the track are many different obstacles that aim to maim or kill your little hamster. So you press the correct button to turn off the trap and let the hamster walk through safely. That is it, that is the entire process of the game. Again I will refer back to the VR version where you physically have to press the traps to turn them off making it a much more frantic and physically interactive game. On the switch however this become a much more dull experience where the first half of the game is far to easy to offer any real challenge, whilst the last half of the game can be still beaten quite easily again.I’m not saying the idea behind this game isn’t good, however its badly implemented on the switch, if it made use of the touch screen? The gyros in the controllers or any of the other tricks the switch has up its sleeve it would have been a much better game, but for what it is, it doesn’t really make it a worthy title to pick up.
Hamster Handler isn’t going to be winning any awards on the switch, and it definitely isn’t going to be making headlines for its designs or its attempt at the puzzle genre, what you get is a low effort attempt at a game that shouldn’t of been released at all. If you like the look of the overall puzzle concept and have a PC with VR? Get that, the difference will be completely massive and make you glad you never considered it. However, if you don’t have that set up? Still don’t buy this game, I really want to like any new puzzle game that comes out, but the low effort graphics, and then comparing it to what was created on the PC just makes it come across as even worse.
As said, with a lack of anything nice to look at, boring gameplay and no use of the switches key features, this game is a bit of a let-down, only saving grace is the price, but still, try and play the VR version if you can.