They were the must-have toy of last Christmas. Parents queued for hours and paid a fortune for Mr Squiggles, Chunk and his pals. And now GoGo Hamsters are back - and this time they're tiny, animated and dashing round a DS near you.
The GoGo brand has now reverted to its international name of Zhu Zhu Pets. It was the most popular toy of 2009, selling around one million toys and accessories. And now the little critters have become a game, exclusively available from Toys R Us, who let us have a copy to preview.
This is a simple game that everyone from younger children to adults will enjoy. The instructions are given verbally, so children who can't read yet will still be able to play easily.
The game structure is very straightforward - players start off with one hamster, which they take care of by feeding it carrots, potty training and giving it lots of lurrrve with little hearts. When your pet needs exercise, you take him around one of the many maze courses, picking up stars and extra carrots along the way. This builds credits which unlock other features and more hamsters to play with.
The game's hamsters can drive around in little cars, play on skateboards or run in hamster wheels. They can explore the slide park, skate park, nursery, bathrooms and travel down secret passageways to seek upgrades - in all there are 30 different levels and upgrades.
New sections are unlocked quickly, making it more satisfying for children to play. Although the hamsters themselves are pretty tiny, they still manage to pack a lot of personality for players to engage with.
My children enjoyed playing this game very much and although it was simple, they didn't grow bored with it. I was struck by how much they seemed to be co-operating and giving each other hints to get around the mazes. They have one DS between them, and sometimes this leads to squabbles when they both want a turn. But this sweet-natured game didn't provoke any of that, which was a relief.
The game has the facility for children to each open their own file and build up their own menagerie of pets, so can be used by multiple players. Instructions come from a female American voice which we found slightly annoying, so turned her off. But all in all this is a fun game for hamster fans of all ages.
Nintendo DS Zhu Zhu Pets is available now exclusively from Toys R Us, RRP £29.99 There's currently a special offer of a free hamster with the game, saving £9.99, but be quick because stocks are limited on this one.
Here's a trailer so you can see the game for yourself:
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