Yes. Hamsters. They're surprisingly intelligent. Why, when I were more of a lad than I be now, my little sister's nascent furball not only escaped its cage by unfastening a gate, but then evaded capture by outmanoeuvring three hungry, roving, predatory cats and disappearing under a rug, before vanishing beneath and subsequently inside my mother's Chesterfield. It's no wonder the little bastards have their own RPGs, now, is it? OK, it's not going to keep you particularly busy if the highlight of your youth was compiling a sound test Action Replay code for Final Fantasy III and getting it published in Super Play, but if it's anything like its GBC predecessor, then Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Heartbreak on the GBA is a good way of steering nippers towards the path of true gaming enlightenment (and rampant Japanese existentialism), or even occupying your dizzy self on a long-haul flight. Or a trip to the pet shop.
But, naturally, you didn't come here to hear about hamsters and childish hamster-based RPGs. You - our core demographic of non-rodent-loving lorry drivers from the southern USA - are clearly more excited by the long-awaited, hugely anticipated Cube release of Big Mutha Truckers! No? How about Sonic Adventure DX Director's Cut, a Cube port of a years-old platform game that's aged a bit and boasts a couple of Game Gear ports and GBA link-up as its key innovations? Oh come on!
Actually, Cube owners have quite a lot to talk about this week, but worryingly little that's actually worth buying. Assuming our perception of Sonic isn't too skewed - and we doubt it is, although we'll still be reviewing it for you next week - that leaves Mega Man Network Transmission, which might be good as a departure from the usual MM formula, but doesn't seem to be setting the States on fire (shame!), V-Rally 3, which is a pretty respectable but overly late rally game, and Hitman 2: Silent Assassin. Now of course the specialist Cube press is wetting itself over Hitman 2, and it is a very accomplished game, but we're not sure it's the killer application Cube owners have been waiting for. Once again though, if you're limited to Cube purchases then it is definitely the best thing out this week.
Indeed, PS2, Xbox and PC owners have a better time of it this week, with uber slash 'em up Dynasty Warriors 4, online-enabled street racer Midtown Madness 3 and the ludicrously cheap (£17.99 at Play) Midnight Club II respectively. We'll be making sure you know the Midtown deal early next week, but it looks like the series is throwing up another decent single player game - this time from DICE - and a stellar multiplayer component. In fact, although we got stuck into the clichéd single player campaign with our preview copies, we haven't even touched it yet, review-wise. Telling!
Of course, it being the end of June, the line-up is also full of games we either haven't heard of or don't give a flying hamster about. Stand up Black and Bruised, EA's plethora of distinctly average F1 releases, Clock Tower 3, Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick, Die Hard Vendetta and Frogger sodding Beyond.
The only thing we care less about, in fact, is Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Firstly, it's crap, and secondly, it's not out yet. It has to be out by the end of this month, apparently. What's a publisher to do? Amazon and others suggest it'll be available by July 4th. Are you a little shit, Lara?
- Big Mutha Truckers (Cube)
- Black and Bruised (PS2, Cube)
- Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Wrath of the Darkhul King (GBA)
- Clock Tower 3 (PS2)
- Die Hard Vendetta (PS2, Xbox)
- Dynasty Warriors 4 (PS2)
- Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomstick (PS2, Xbox - both include Evil Dead DVD)
- F1 Career Challenge (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
- F1 Challenge '99-'02 (PC)
- Frogger Beyond (PS2, Cube)
- Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak (GBA)
- Hitman 2: Silent Assassin (Cube)
- Mega Man Network Transmission (Cube)
- Midnight Club II (PC) - buy it from the EG Shop
- Midtown Madness 3 (Xbox) - buy it from the EG Shop
- Red Faction II (PC)
- Sonic Adventure DX Director's Cut (Cube)
- V-Rally 3 (Cube)
- Wing Commander Prophecy (GBA)
- World Championship Snooker 2003 (PS2, Xbox)
Disclaimer: All of the above release data is verified against four online stores (Amazon, GAME, Gameplay and Play) as well as our latest release schedules and, where available, publisher extranets. If it's wrong, then quite honestly it really is someone else's fault, and if you complain then we'll never hold your hair back when you're throwing up, or buy your flowers, or ask you to marry us. Ever.