Virtual pets may have been a novelty nearly 15 years ago, but with the digital age in full bloom, developers all over the world insist on taking the concept of raising a fake pet and revolutionizing the idea for the up-and-coming generation. The 3D effect of today’s computer animated graphics make these fake pets seem more realistic than ever. With HamTouch by HI Games & Publishing, users are responsible for their very own virtual hamster, which they must feed and play with just like a normal pet.
Users will begin by choosing their hamster’s gender, as well as his or her appearance by sifting through the available colors and patterns. Then, simply give them a name and they will be unleashed upon the world, destined to wander about a table top for all of their short, virtual life. Though, in real life, no normal hamster would be able to navigate a tabletop, for they cannot perceive height, so the fact that this little hamster can detect the edge is quite unrealistic. (I suppose an adorable virtual cage would be too much to ask for?) But as long as parents aren’t using this application to teach their children about responsibility before giving in and buying them a real pet, then all should be fine.
The icons in the bottom right corner of the screen are vital, for users must feed their hamster, observe their progress and learn the necessary controls for increasing your hamster’s happiness. For one thing, no matter how much you feed the poor creature, it will always be listed as hungry. (Speaking of which, the developer entirely neglects the animal’s need to drink water at some point. Death by dehydration, anyone?) Users will also not only want to monitor their hamster’s health and satisfaction, but also their personal progress as a pet owner as well. With dozens of achievements to unlock, see how many things you can accomplish before you beloved buddy goes belly up.
For fun, and for you hamster’s health, play with your pet by taking pictures with the camera, doodling all over the images and then post them to Twitter by quickly linking your HamTouch and Twitter accounts. Best of all, users can even search for other users via Twitter and arrange a play date for their hamsters. (Unfortunately, the only other Twitter user I could conjure up had only recently posted a picture of his dead hamster, disturbingly grotesque for an animated being. Guess he won’t be coming over to play any time soon.)
Having to resort to one-on-one playtime with my little friend – Guggenheim’s his name, if you were wondering – I attempted to show him some love by stroking his fur to shine his coat, only to tip him over each time. Yes, I realize “tripping” your hamster qualifies as “fun” time in the world of HamTouch, but the poor thing looked unnecessarily stressed out each time he tipped, leading me to believe that a virtual wheel and chew toys may be a great way to supplement my finger jabbing him in the back. I’ve had numerous pet hamsters over the course of my lifetime, and none of them have ever required such incessant attention to keep them from traipsing around at a zombie-like pace. I guess virtual pets have simply become much more high maintenance and spoiled since the good ol’ Tamagotchi days.
HamTouch [iTunes Link] requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.