The Flying Hamster
- PSN Minis (PSP & PS3) / Ł5.99
It's scientifically impossible not to go a little bit gooey inside when games anthropomorphise cute animals. And when it's done in a Japanese style, our hearts melt and pour out of our eyes. Just look at their little expressions when they get mad.
Game Atelier's Parisian tribute to this phenomenon stops at nothing to tweak at our fun glands, turning everyday side-scrolling japes into a bizarre war against a perfectly reasonable hamster.
Cows turn their udders into missile spewing vessels, laser-eyed owls turn forests into a theatre of death, while mean-eyed penguins take to the skies armed with pistols, sheltering from the desert heat with umbrellas. You get the idea.
Peel away the veneer of madcap nonsense, though, and The Flying Hamster could be any number of regulation side-scrolling shooters from the 1980s. The chucklesome cut-scenes and warbling background music briefly raise a smile, but beyond that this is only a mildly entertaining throwaway. And at double the price of most PlayStation Minis, it doesn't even qualify as an impulse purchase. If Sony bothered to have an Xbox Indie-style trial system for its Minis we'd tell you to check it out first, but given that you can't, The Flying Hamster looks destined to be ignored.
- PSN (PS3) / Ł7.99
The Top Gun movie has a lot to answer for. It brought us the twin horrors of Take My Breath Away and Highway To The Danger Zone, and was arguably solely responsible for launching the career of mad short bloke Tom Cruise. And it's still my father's favourite film. Argh.
On top of all that, we've not had a single decent videogame spawned off the back of it in eight attempts spanning 24 years. What chance, then, of doublesix's budget PSN-only offering bucking this sorry trend?
For once, all the basics are covered, and for the measly price of Ł7.99 you get 11 missions of undeniably solid, arcade-style aerial combat. With intuitive controls making even the most routine dogfighting sorties enjoyable, and non-terrible visuals, there's a measure of craft about the whole thing that you'd expect from a mid-priced boxed release, never mind a cheap, download-only affair.
Little touches like recharging health and the ability to fire your guns without ever overheating make it one of the most accessible aerial combat games around, though the downside of all this is that it's not exactly tough to plough through the campaign.
At this price, though, it's hard to knock something for being fun and accessible, even when it's not exactly pushing the boundaries. And with 16-player multiplayer to seal the deal, Top Gun finally has a decent game to call its own.