H is for Hamster
When I was younger I was kind of a mega fan of hamsters. My first one was called Conan and he was quite the acrobat that used to love climbing over his cage in a spectacular display of awesomeness. Back then I think I loved hamsters more than video games.
Since the Mega Drive was the big video game at the time I was kinda surprised that there was very little love for hamsters in the medium despite several other animals getting their own shot. Well over 25 years later (jeez I’m getting old) and developer TOMO CAMP is in the process of crafting a game my younger self would have probably adored. I sat down with the demo of Pompom recently and I’m pleased to share with you my thoughts on this upcoming title.
They Kidnapped my Boy
Pompom is a hamster who is happily enjoying his day spinning around on his wheel. When one day his boy Hoshi, who creepily looks like a pixelated version of me from my youth, gets kidnapped by Space Cat Pirates. But it looks like they chose the wrong hamster to mess with because now Pompom is on a mission to hunt down these cats and destroy them. Of course, saving Hoshi in the process.
Observe and Assist
Pompom is far too cool to be controlled by you, the player. Pompom will automatically move towards the right of the screen and when he reaches the edge of a platform he will automatically do a decent-sized jump. You act as the observer who needs to make sure Pompom doesn’t accidentally fall into harm’s way. To do this you can use your mouse to place platforms and springs for Pompom to land on or interact with. You can also interact with elements of the environment. An example of this is that Pompom can grab an umbrella, you can then click on fans to fly him to safety.
There is quite a lot to juggle all at once but to make things more manageable you can hold the spacebar, temporarily pausing all the action on screen to enable you to get your bearings. You can also use this feature to change Pompoms direction of movement if he accidentally starts moving in the wrong direction. If Pompom does take a fall you get one chance to replace him on a nearby platform with the help of a handy bubble. But you only get one chance at this before you reach the next checkpoint.
Super Hamster Bros
If the art style looks familiar to you then you’re probably a Nintendo fan. It feels like seeing that old friend you haven’t seen for a long time and all the happy feelings that come with that experience. A clear homage to Super Mario World on Super Nintendo.
The sprite design and even level design feels very much like quite the love letter to this 16-bit era. Although retro, this style still has incredible sprite detail as well as making use of a wide colour palette. There is also a brilliant diversity of levels from familiar grassland like levels to haunting castles. But not everything feels totally lifted from Mario. The game also adds themes of its own like a toy land and an Aztec themed area.
The demo which is available now to download, lets you play through a variety of themed levels with a variety of mechanics to play with. The final level also lets you take on a boss fight. The demo, for me, gave off a very good first impression. Each level provides plenty of flexibility so you don’t need to get things 100% to make it to the goal. But there are plenty of collectables to find for those looking to master the experience.
Pompom is a unique spin on the 2D platformer. More like a platform strategy game in a sense. With a nostalgic art style and flexible gameplay design, this is sure to win over plenty of fans in the future. You don’t even need to be a fan of hamsters to appreciate it.
Pompom is coming in 2022 to PC and Nintendo Switch. There is currently a free demo to enjoy available now on Steam. The developers are also holding a stream on their Steam page on 10th October 2021 where they intend to discuss development stories of the game.