Hello fellow Hamster-fans,
As i'm sure you're all aware by now, there is a brand spanking new video game hamster on the scene! Brought to us by our friends at Blizzard, Hammond is the newest hero in Overwatch and oh BOY! OHHHHHHHH BOY!!!!!!! This changes everything! Its a MAJOR upset to the "Top 10 Hamsters in Video Games" List!!!!! And I've got a lot of thoughts I'm gonna share with YOU!
Let's break this little buddy's design down using the "Top 10" metrics I've established.
Before I saw Hammond, I was worried about how cute this little guy would look. As all Hamster-lovers know, the cuteness of fictional hamsters is considered on a gradient scale with "Hamtaro" on one end (maximum cute) and "Rhino" from Bolt on the other (minimal cute). "Ebichu" from Oruchuban Ebichu is right in the middle of the scale.
Most Western-style cartoon aesthetics tend to lean more "Rhino" than "Hamtaro" much to my chagrin. I have no idea why some people think we want to see really weirdly proportioned hamsters that fail to highlight their cuteness properly! Poor craftsmanship, in my opinion! I'm lookin at you Bojack Horseman.
To my delight, Hammond is closer to "Hamtaro" on the Cuteness Scale! I saw someone describe Hammond's character as geared more towards children, and I agree with that notion. Where Hammond's design shines, though, is in how it presents its aesthetics. The character is obviously funny at its core - his reveal trailer highlights this. You have a giant, destructive tank shell operated by a tiny, cute animal. But unlike many "Rhino"-like character designs, Blizzard focused less on creating a hamster character that was comedic because it's designed to be a comic relief, and instead comedic because it's cute and that cuteness contrasts the harsh violence of its weaponry/world.
Furthermore Blizzard presents us with one of the few hamster designs out there that, though cartoonish, is also identifiably a hamster, based off real hamsters. What non-Hamster-fanatics may not realize is there's actually many different breeds of hamsters. There's tiny Roborovski hamsters, medium sized Djungarian, dwarf and Chinese hamsters, and finally the largest domestic hamster, the Syrian hamster. Most hamster designs you'll see in media aren't any specific breed of hamster- they're usually a mishmash of a few (like Myron from Secret Life of Pets, a mash between Syrian and dwarf hamsters), or a weird... mishmash of different hamster traits (like Rhino - sorry to dunk on him so much).
Hammond stands outbecause he's clearly a Syrian hamster. He's got their common orange-white markings, a more oblong body type and pink paws + tail. The only other media I can recall being as distinct in their hamster designs is Hamtaro. I bring this up because it's important for understanding how Blizzard highlighted cuteness-over-comedy in Hammond's design.
Rhino and Myron's designs focus on the roundness of the character over distinct facial features. While roundness is important for cute hams, when it's their major design marker it leaves hamster characters reminiscent more of amorphous, cutesy balls of fluff than real-life animals. Myron is especially guilty of this. The character's exaggerated teeth are the only marker that it's a ham and it has human-like eyes. While Rhino is more clearly a hamster, his eerie human-like eyes allow for more exaggerated facial expression that a comic-relief character like him would need.
Hammond breaks this mold. His eyes are small but they're wholly black, giving the illusion of dilated pupils and affection. The main way the character expresses emotion is through his squishy face, big chubby cheeks and the tufts of fur above his eyes that act as eyebrows. Most importantly, Hammond is identifiable by only his silhouette. With the exception of Hamtaro, pretty much all hamsters previously mentioned in this blogpost would be difficult to identify by silhouette alone. But not Hammond. The emphasis on the cuteness of his design is what makeshis character so affective - and so endearing as a ham ham.
Obviously Hammond starts out high on this one because you play AS him. But I want to take a moment to highlight two things: the HUD and Hammond's voice lines.
I haven't had the chance to play Hammond myself yet (no PTR on PS4 unfortunately!) but Hammond is looking to be a really fun, new way to tank. My main in Overwatch is D.Va, I have more hours with her than any other character. I LOVE tanking. But I dislike all the other tanks in the game because they're painfully slow. D.Va's a highly mobile unit, one that can zip into action at a moments notice and knock around other players. Her mobility is counteracted by a weak primary weapon with lots of spread. She's a really FUN character to play as. Hammond seems to me to be another highly mobile tank with an added technical bit thrown in. That seems fun as hell to me. I love that they took the idea of a hamster in a ball and "rolled with it" - literally. Not only does that make for interesting gameplay, but it makes for play style that fits perfectly with the character itself. It's neat!
Also important to Hammond... he doesn't speak. A fact Jeff Kaplan made explicitly clear in his Developer Update. And oh my GOD will I forever be grateful for that decision. Battleborn has a similar cutesy-character-in-a-giant-mech named Toby who's fun design is entirely offset by a TERRIBLY shrill voice with 2-edgy-4-u catchphrases. I love ham hams, I think you all know that about me by now, but dear lord do I dislike when hamster or hamster-adjacent characters are given grating voices in cartoons. I personally don't find it cute or funny... Just annoying.
Thankfully there's none of that with Hammond. Instead he communicates with very cute, hamham-like squeaks. Real-life hamsters don't squeak unless they're surprised or scared BUT.... I'll give Blizzard a pass. It's pretty darn adorable. In lieu of human speech from Hammond himself, his mech will speak in a robotic voice for him. It's short bursts of "HELLO" and "GROUP UP" but I think it works well complimented by Hammond's little squeaks. I even heard a voice line where Hammond squeaks and the mech goes "HE SAYS THANK YOU." It was so sweet. My heart melted. However, I DON'T like the noise he makes when he gets hurt! It made me very sad and I think Jeff Kaplan should make a patch IMMEDIATELY that makes it so you can't hurt Hammond! Until then, I implore all of you, use restraint! Don't hurt Hammond!!
Oh... uh... anyway... back to the gameplay! My feelings may change once I start playing him, but I'm really pleased with how well Hammond's design meshes with his playable components. I think it's a great example of how matching character design with gameplay can enhance the character's effectiveness.
Finally, my friends, we've reached perhaps the most important metric for ranking hamsters. Their roundness. I believe I've explained my admiration of Hammond's design and gameplay enough by this point, so I'll leave with just a few words about how perfectly, beautifully spherical this boy is.
I love that Blizzard took the idea of a hamster in a ball - an iconic visual motif associated with hamsters - and made a gosh darn character out of it. And I can't believe, on top of that, they made one that meshes all faucets of design so well together. It's awesome. I can't wait to play him. I love him so much.
With that, I think it's clear that Hammond now takes the spot of "Best Hamster in Video Games". But only in a metaphorical sense, of course! Because ALL hamsters are good, they are all the best, and I love all of them so much. Even the weird Sims 4 potato hamster.
Thank you all for reading this far, I hope you'll be able to appreciate this brand new ham-friend as much as I have. What do you think of Hammond? If you've played him already, how's he feel? Let me know what you think of this new hamham down below.