Ninja Hamster
Copyright/Publisher: CRL Group, Program By: Gary Thomlinson, Conversion By:
Wise Owl Software, Release Year: 1987, Genre: Fighting Sports, Number Of Players: 1 or 2

In the twilight days of the beat'em up, CRL have released a less serious combat game in the shape of Ninja Hamster. The player controls a small, but perfectly trained rodent as he battles against his mortal enemies, the Sinister Rat and his band of villains.

The action is portrayed in the familiar beat'em up style, with two beastly opponents facing eacg other across a static screen. Each animal has an energy meter, with is depleted every time a hit is sustained. When this reaches zero, the combatant is knocked down, and a bite is taken out of his life-giving 'Great Apple'.

Once the seventh segment of the opposition's apple disappears, the hamster advances to the next opponent. If the hamster's apple is removed, the game ends.

The hamster has an repertoire of moves accessed by combinations of joystick positions and button presses. The moves available include a flying kick, mid-kick, ground sweep, punch, high kick, jump and duck.

Energy is slowly regained all the time, so to successfully knock down an opponent, blows must be struck fairly regularly. A two player options is provided, where the second player takes control of the villainous animals.

I can't understand CRL releasing this game: there are so many beat'em ups available - many of an extremely high quality - that this mediocre effort simply disappears into the swirling morass without trace.

The two characters are transparent hires monochrome sprites which clash badly when in close contact: you can hardly tell what moves each one is making in the writhing black mass of pixels.

The game's single redeeming feature is the soundtrack, which is a punchy little oriental number and probably the best track CRL have used for ages. Still, I can't recommend the game.

Julian Rignall
CRL have tried to inject a little novelty into the fighting genre, but have failed to disguise what is basically a tired old beat'em up. Ninja Hamster could have been fun, but unfortunately its potential hasn't been realised. Moves are limited, and since they have to be used repeatedly to defeat the opposition, it doesn't take long for the gameplay to become tedious.

The graphics are generally poor, with dull monochromatic sprites battling over a very bland backdrop - in fact the only really good thing is the surprisingly jolly oriental soundtrack. Beat'em up fans might find some initial fun, but it doesn't take long for interest to fade.

Although the beat'em up boom is considered well past its prime, CRL have still released this spoof version with hopes of capturing a small area of the market left untapped.

In essence, this is a great idea, and from the packaging, you might think it's a bit of a laugh. Unfortunately, the actual game is a serious, hard slog, with little to laugh about other than the look of some of the characters.

On the technical side, the game is definitely mediocre, with some monochrome sprites mixing messily when overlapping, and little in the way of sound other than the title music. Fighting is fairly routine, and doesn't have enough variation in moves to promote lengthy combat.


One or two players plus optional keyboard control.
Poorly defined sprites battle it out across an incredibly bland backdrop.
A totally clichéd, but enjoyably boppy soundtrack.
Simple to play, but the action fails to grab from the outset.
Each character takes ages to defeat, and the action severely lacks variety.
A poor beat'em up which falls far short of its potential.