Furry rodents have never been the obvious choice for extreme sports; that is, until you play Flight of the Hamsters. Flight of the Hamsters is a hamster launch game. It is one of several games based on Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door series. In a nutshell, the cartoon features a handful of 10-year-old kids fighting back against adult menaces. These children form a team dubbed "Sector V", one of many in an international organization, operating in a tree house. They use high-tech weapons and gadgets made up of common items. One such everyday resource is the humble hamster. Used in the thousands, it forms the largest power supply worldwide and is an efficient energy source for Sector V's base of operations.
Flight of the Hamsters is a spin-off game of the animated children's series; you are to help these goggle-wearing creatures enjoy their vacation by propelling them to see just how far they go. Just like with any launching game, your objective is to reach new heights and distances with your aerodynamic hamster. You may end up in space or maybe just fall flat just a few inches from the starting point.
The controls for Flight of the Hamsters are pretty basic. A click of the mouse button is all it takes to activate Glide Power. Though useful, the use of this ability is pretty much limited to short bursts due to it draining quite easily. The good news is that the bar does refill, albeit slowly, when it is not in use. With that said, the game revolves around learning proper timing in order to fling your hamsters in the air and to reach booster items scattered throughout the level. Launching your gravity defying hamsters entails lobbing them with a pillow at just the right time. Visually, you can judge how close they are to your sling or you can opt to use the Launch Meter to check if they are ready to be propelled.
If you keep missing on the timing, do not watch the hamster and the pillow. Instead, keep an eye on the gauge on the top left of the screen in order to get a more visually simpler idea on when to swing the pillow. Basically, just wait for the gauge marker to reach the darker central part of the bar and then whack that hamster.
The items your hamster can utilize include rockets, hamster balls, fans, skateboards and springboards to get farther. Take note that the placement and availability of these valuable boosters are randomized so luck plays a big role in garnering better scores as well. A common item, the rocket gives you a speed boost, which is great when you are gliding at a decent angle and bad when you are already descending. At times when another booster is just ever so slightly out of reach, the fan offers a gentle air lift for that extra bump to stay afloat.
Hamster balls work as a sort of an invincibility shield wherein you sacrifice it to get an extra bounce upon hitting the ground. Invincible does not mean a guaranteed increase in distance though. Depending on how you land, sometimes the ball tosses you straight up and you will have to use your Glide Power in the hopes of altering your angle.
Another item that gives your aerodynamic friend a bit of a boost is the springboard. Master the art of accurate landings and you may utilize this handy booster to offer a lift off point when you plummet to the ground.
Last but not the least, the skateboard is useful while on the ground as well. Once you get one during flight, a skateboard icon is displayed next to the Glide Meter. Align your hamster before you hit the ground and you can slide for some extra distance.
On a game play perspective, Flight of the Hamsters is simple to understand but hard to master. With a strict one try rule, even launching a hamster is tricky unless you have done it a few times.
Not a launching game veteran? You may be in for a bit of frustration because the big role that luck plays does little to ease beginners into the game play. Once your hamster starts plummeting down to earth, it is almost impossible to resume gliding. There is no way to upgrade your equipment either so the mechanics do not change at any point in time. In essence, this cuts the replay value down if you do not care to master the skills needed to progress further in the game.
The Score system for the hamster launch game is pretty straightforward in Flight of the Hamsters. You get several tries in the form of hamsters lined up to be launched. After utilizing all the tricks in the book to get your hamster to move as far as possible throughout the level, you get scored based on the total distance you covered. Five daredevil hamsters later and your total score gets averaged.
The graphics are stylized and looks to be straight out of the Codename: Kids Next Door cartoon. The animations are charming and are a tad silly right down to the dancing hamster on the score screen. For fans of the animated series, Sector V's secret base is easily found in the background as well.
There is not much to review in terms of music since it is limited to one track. "Ride of the Valkyries" by Richard Wagner plays as soon as you launch your hamster up in the air. Though fitting, it can somewhat redundant hearing it start over after multiple tries. On the other hand, there are numerous sound effects to be heard and are thoughtfully chosen to emphasize the action.
Flight of the Hamsters may not have the depth or replay value marathon players may want but it certainly does a good job in providing an amusing, bite-sized launching game. The art direction and Easter eggs will definitely please fans of the Codename: Kids Next Door series and has the potential to charm those who are not familiar with the cartoon. There are plenty of better launching game titles for new players who are after an initiation to the genre but launching game veterans who are after a challenge may want to try their hand at this game. All in all, it is a game that doesn't necessarily need to be taken too seriously and deserves at least a try to see if it is your cup of tea. With its heavy reliance on chance, it is at the very least an entertaining snack break title. We give this game a star-bound hamster's 83/100.