Ninja Hamster was developed by Gary Thomlinson and published by CRL Group PLC in 1987 for the most important 8-bit homecomputers. At a time when the fighting game boom was cosidered well past its prime this game was a try to inject a little novelty into the fighting genre by letting fight an anthropomorphic hamster against similarly anthropomorphic assortment of animals in a round-based tournament.
The eight opponent characters and the main protagonist in this game are transparent monochrome sprites which fight over a very bland backdrop and merge one into another when in close contact. So its often hardly to tell what moves each character is making in the writhing black mass of pixels. The armoury of moves is very small and it doesn't take long for the gameplay to get a bit repetitive and tedious. The screen layout and the character control is very similar to the Fist and International Karate games.
Trained by Master Yong the young hamster had become after years of hard training a ninja. On his homecoming from his long journey he finds his village being terrorised by his arch enemies, Sinister Rat and the Lizard of Death and their gang of joy-seeking villains. Not tolerating this malicious intrusion on his home domain Ninja Hamster unleashes his deadly art on his tormentors with a combination of different teeth-smashing and bone-crushing attack moves. To completely liberate the village Ninja Hamster must destroy all eight members of the gang.
After loading the player gets on all three 8-bit homecomputer versions to the game options screen. Here one can select whether to play the game with keyboard or with a joystick. On the ZX Spectrum version even the keys to control the Ninja Hamster can be defined whereas on the two other versions the keys are predefined. The game supports a "one player combat" where the player takes control of Ninja Hamster and must liberate his home village by defeating the eight villains one after another. And a "two player combat" where the second player takes control of the villainous animals.
The action takes place in a static one-screen arena with the two bestially opponents facing each other. Both characters have an energy meter at the side of the screen which is depleted every time a hit is sustained. To successfully knock down an opponent hits must be landed regularly because the energy is slowly regained all the time. Once the energy runs out the character will lose consciousness and his opponent will get to take out a bite of his apple. The apples at the top of the screen indicate the number of falls the characters have taken. Once Ninja Hamster has taken out six bites out of a opponents apple he will advance to the next round and face another villain.
Combinations of joystick positions and fire-button presses let Ninja Hamster perform the usual series of movements, such as: high kick, low kick, middle kick, flying kick, punch and block.
There are eight villainous vermin to defeat in order to save the village:
- Barmy Bee (fat bee with a sting in his tail - his flying attacks should be avoided, low kicks at medium range and high kicks when in really close should knock him down)
- Crazy Cat (has a set of lethal looking claws - his claw attacks shoul be avoided, many middle kicks in combination with a few flying kicks should knock him down)
- Lizard of Death (mean monster with a spiky club - easy opponent who should be knocked down by using a mixture of flying kicks and middle kicks)
- Loony Lobster (muscly type who is pretty difficult to defeat - beatable by using only low kicks)
- Mad Dog (dressed as an American football player - easy to defeat by using only low kicks)
- Mean Monkey (this baddy should be killed by using flying kicks and mid kicks when in really close)
- Perilous Parrot (with a sharp looking beak - middle kicks and flying kicks should knock him down, low kicks should be avoided because he'll just lie down and peck one to death)
- Sinister Rat (the easiest opponent in the game wearing boxing gloves - just an opponent to practice the available set of moves)