I had two ideas for another post this month albeit they both stemmed from the same prospect of enraging Kevin and there is no way that I am going to post them within a few days of each other. I do like to space these things out so that Kevin’s wrath does not come down on my like a ton of spiky, explosive bricks. Also, you may as well milk this for all it’s worth because everyone loves winding Kev up as much as I do. With this in mind, let me present you with a little review of the Gameboy Colour game ‘Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!”
Hamtaro is a hugely popular Japanese series of anime, manga and video games. It follows the adventures of a group of SD (super-deformed and very cutesy) hamsters and it’s utterly insane. I want to pretend that this is completely normal but it’s not. I have played through the entire game and I am convinced it was designed by the deranged. Even I, with my bat shit crazy view of the world, found myself exclaiming out loud, not in my head, actual audible sounds, of “Eh?” and “You what?” whilst playing it. It is everything that I was hoping for and an extra box of chocolate carpets to boot.
In it you play the titular Hamtaro, a lovable hamster with a heart as huge as his eyes. The boss of your hamster clubhouse has tasked you with locating all the other twelve hamsters and bringing them back for a special surprise. As a small rodent, the human world is big and full of items that would appear normal to you and me. How are you to convince your peers to abandon whatever they’re doing and head back to he clubhouse? You do this using Ham-Chat. Ham-Chat is the secret language of the Ham-Hams whereby instead of using sensible words to describe and communicate they use slight variations or muddied portmanteaus of colloquialisms. It does seem rather odd that this fully-grown hamster does not understand basic words for ‘happy’, ‘tired’ and ‘hungry’; how has he been getting by all this time? Has he been writing down words on a pad and showing them to friends and family? Where did he buy this pad of paper, from a tiny WH Smiths? Who designed and built a WH Smiths so small only small animals can get in? There are so many questions.
So you get given a few to begin with and set off into the world to learn more words. The more words you learn the more puzzles you can solve. When I say “puzzles” what I mean is… what do I mean? You meet other Ham-Hams and they tell you things such as stories or other Ham-Chat words. You pass these on to other Ham-Hams to help them with whatever problem they’re dealing with. Occasionally you won’t be able to proceed in the area you’re in until you find the right word and backtrack to that point. Occasionally you’ll go through every word you have until you do the right thing. Occasionally you’ll have to play a mini-game where you position Hamtaro in the right place so he can head a strawberry like a football. Fruit sports.
The game is relatively open so you can wander around until you find the right thing for the right place. It’s a series of fetch quests hidden behind a brightly-coloured world of absurdity. There are eighty-five words to find in total. As this is a kid’s game, you are also given the choice of purchasing clothes and items for Hamtaro from specialist shops hidden in the game. Fancy yourself a bit of a dance guru? The words from the back of the box say it all:
“You can create dances with Ham-Chat. Every word gives you a dance step – string words together to make your own original Ham-Jam dances then link up and share with your friends.”
I didn’t get this. I mean I understand hamsters dancing but I didn’t see the point of it meaning I ignored this aspect of the game completely and went back to picking up acorns and rocks.
Though I am a little ashamed to admit it, I am still to complete my Ham-Ham Notebook having only found seventy-six of the eighty-five words in total. I appear to have hit a bit of a block where it seems as if I need to do the tiniest of little things before carrying on with the rest of the game and my poor eyes, all sets of them, don’t have the energy to go scouring through the same levels again and again trying to find whatever it is I need to do.
That said, it is a very engaging and silly game, and I enjoyed the majority of it. I first learned of it at the turn of the century and it took me until this year to play it. Twenty years of anticipation. Twenty years of sometimes looking for it on Ebay and then getting distracted by a box of hammers. As it is quite rare I could only find the game and instruction booklet so I bought a reproduction box from Etsy to house it in. Now it looks all complete and shiny the way it should. Look at it, Kev, bask in how great it looks. That repro box was well worth the money. I only wish everyone could experience the comic mischief of ‘Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite!” although the chances of an HD remake or remaster are practically slim to none.
It’s a good job then that there are three (count ’em!) three other Hamtaro games on the Gameboy Colour for me to source and play. Life is good.
Way back at the start of the year, when we all excitedly built our, now legendary, lego pouring beans calendars, we all deiscovered the small but important flaw that not all the pages actually fit inside.
At the time I shoved in all those that fit, and the rest went in the luxurious golden box it was delivered in. (Which incidentally, still smells of whatever magic they put into laser printers to make colours stick to paper).
Well at the start of the month, the time came when that initial tranche of pages ran out. Giddy, I opened the gold box and wanged in the rest of the year, only to discover it was too baggy and they all fell out every time I moved the thing.
Modifications were needed, and modifications were made…
The holey-bit was trimmed down by removing two layers of the thin bits, and thus a perfect fit was once again achieved.
Don’t worry though, this being Lego, all the spare bits are safely stored on the back.
They’re all ready to be re-fitted when next years calendar refill-block duly arrives from Chris at Christmas.
Today I had the day off work, and we actually went out! We went out for lunch, do you remember that? I barely do. Being able to go out for lunch.
Well we had to drive all the way to Harrogate to do it because we fancied going to Wagamamas and that was the nearest one that was open, but it was almost, almost, like the before-times.
That, and all the waitresses were dressed as surgeons, and there were screens on the tables, but it was almost like the before-times.
Oh, and you had to pay by using your phone via a website because despite bringing us drinks and food for an hour or so, holding the card machine for us to beep would be just too risky, but it was kind of like the before-times.
Aaaand they only had a limited menu, because… reasons, but it was a bit like the before-times.
OK so it was nothing like the before times, but we had a child free lunch out in a nice restaurant with nice food and the weather was nice.
Even with all this time, or well now that I’m back at work this time where I’m not out running rampant like I normally would pre-lockdown, I still seem to find myself in this position most months of being on the cusp of four posts and not quite being able to find the last one.
I had several ideas which will no doubt appear next month once I have had a chance to actually do some research or, at least, download the pictures so it’s not one massive block of text with me pointing at things that aren’t there. I suppose that could work though, slightly less absorbing than an empty space where a post should be.
I was even going to drum up some thrills for a new caption completion. Alas, by not going anywhere or doing anything there are no strange photos in my phone for me to pass off as my own efforts. So let me fill up this with a couple of shout outs:
Happy Birthday, Kev. I hope you realise that we have now known each other for 24 years. Once our friendship reaches the big 25 we may have to do something special like flying into space or getting drunk on a park at 11pm. Your choice.
We’re smooshing into the second half of the year and my work colleague is already talking about Christmas, mainly because there’s cock all else to look forward to at the moment. It also means there’s only five more months of lovely PB calendar action before we must all return to boring, humdrum calendars that don’t have owls in coffee shops, notebook selfies or any of my book covers.
I still need a haircut. I have to get it sorted next week because I’m fast approaching Cousin It from ‘The Addams Family’ level of hair proportions without one. You know how hairy on the go I normally am, this is more like hairy through the window on a jetpack.
If anyone else would like to announce anything please feel free to do so.