The Snake Becomes The Key

Retro Gaming Humour

Rockstar Ate My Hamster: The XXXX Factor

Words:Chris Keeley

Simon Cowell and Pete Waterman have nothing on these bozos.

Championship Manager, as any gamer knows, is more addictive than chocolate flavoured crack. That feeling of being in complete control of your club and your players and telling everyone what to do is a magic formula. Rockstar Ate My Hamster is something of its spiritual predecessor, not in the addictiveness stakes, but in terms of the concept. Bossing people around, making decisions, acting the big man. In terms of addictiveness, it’s not so much chocolate crack as chocolate raisins. Great at first but becoming ever more sickly with each passing minute.

Cecil Pitt and Clive, his bumbling assistant, fresh from dusting themselves off from the disaster of their bankrupt theatre agency, decide to spend Clive’s £50,000 inheritance and move into rock star management. Having failed triumphantly at the theatre business it’s hardly a huge leap of imagination and remit between the two and doesn’t really seem advisable. Will the dismal pair’s lack of creative spark and originality hold them back? In terms of them making money, no actually, it won’t. In terms of your prolonged enjoyment of the game, it turns out that yes, yes it will. Very much so. Like toast flavoured chewing gum, or teasing lions about their appearance, the novelty soon comes to a sharp halt.

You play Cecil, the failed theatrical agent, a man whose appearance and business acumen are in constant competition with each other to see which is the worst. It’s your job to get his new enterprise off the ground and making money. Clive, your generous benefactor/dogsbody is along for the ride and there to carry out your every whim, as long as it is one of 5 pre-determined actions. His other duties it seems, are to absorb a barrage of abuse from Cecil and the blame for everything. The human embodiment of an over-excited puppy, Clive takes the torrent of 80’s style insults in his stride, deflecting them with his enthusiasm for making the band a success. He really doesn’t deserve to be told to ‘get stuffed’ or be called a ‘scumbag’ quite as often. It’s his money that is funding the company after all.

I don’t use the ‘F’ word often, but Rockstar Ate My Hamster is….fun. For about an hour that is. It begins brightly but soon tails off, like a passing comet or a Micheal Barrymore house party. This first hour of pleasure is largely derived from creating your band, training them, gigging and releasing records. I know what you’re thinking….and you’re right. What else is there left to do? Nothing. After this initial flurry you are left with nothing new and you’re free to go on autopilot. In this case I imagine the reading from the little black box would go something like this…….TOUR…….RELEASE RECORD……TOUR…..RELEASE RECORD…..TOUR…..RELEAS…WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING ME LIKE THIS? MALFUNCTION….. SMOKE HISS ARGGHHHH DIE HUMANS! …..TOUR…..RELEASE RECORD…..TOUR ad infinitum.


The schoolbus driver had a real bad attitude

The dredgery of day to day office life is recreated quite accurately once everything is up and running. You are left to stare at the same picture of the not-so-dynamic-duo as they schedule show after show after show. You feel like their captive, trapped in their tiny office with them as they perform the strange torture on you of helping them organise their dreary lives. Occasionally you are allowed out of their den and on to the bands’ tourbus, but always under the watchful eye of Cecil and Clive. The thing is, despite all this, you find yourself suffering from Stockholm Syndrome; feeling sorry for and even identifying with your captors. You find yourself willing them to succeed, or failing that, just put themselves out of their misery, whichever offers the quickest route out of the game.

If you dare, you may attempt a publicity stunt in order to break the monotony and perhaps eek out a few extra sales. By stunt, what I really mean, is a death-defying stunt. More often than not you get no publicity and if you do, it’s probably because one of your charges has died. That’s right, died. Usually in some bizarre orgy involving a vicar, sometimes a hamster and occasionally both. Evil Knievel and David Blaine would think twice about one of Clive’s publicity stunts. I’m sure that he’s acting out his frustrations against Cecil with his suicidal brand of promotion. No-one could remain that chipper in the face of such mental torture, not without some kind of breakdown behind the scenes.

To attempt a meta-metaphor (a first for this blog) Rockstar Ate My Hamster could be compared to this review itself. It starts amusingly enough and you’ve been entertained up to a point. Now imagine that you are forced to read those first few paragraphs over and over again. Like toast flavoured chewing gum, or teasing lions about their appearance, the novelty soon comes to a sharp halt. Like toast flavoured chewing gum, or teasing lions about their appearance, the novelty soon comes to a sharp halt. Like toast flavoured chewing gum, or teasing lions about their appearance, the novelty soon comes to a sharp halt.


January 29, 2007 - Posted by | Chris Keeley, Wacky rockstar management games


  1. I had this game on the Amiga when I was about 10 years old. I imagine you’ve got it pretty spot on from a more adult, sensible point of view, but jeez, I can remember spending hours dangerously approaching double digits playing this game. Making up the names of all the tracks on your album was the best bit, meaning you could quite literally have a number one single entitled “Gaygaygaygaygaygaygayga”.

    The alter-egos you could pick to be in your band were pretty good, too. Rick Ghastly, Lumme (‘stead of Lemmy), Eddie Quicksilver (Freddie Mercury), Tina Turnoff, Bill Collins. You had weird bands with names like Dross, The Bondage Pixies or Extra Potent Screaming Armageddon. You could have your music videos directed by Steven Cheeseburger, Busby Berserkly, or Cecil Bidet Mill (or Clive, if you had foolishly hired Bill Collins (£30,000 a week) in your band and were down to your last pony, or monkey, or whatever the ruddy cockneys call it.

    The only thing I’m surprised you didn’t mention were the……ch………charity gigs. Apparently, Cecil and Clive were SO incompetent that upon receiving a telephone call asking if their band, Rendered Impotent By Radioactive Midgets, would like to do a charity gig, they would decide whether to do the gig BEFORE ASKING WHAT CHARITY IT WAS FOR! This muppet coin-toss scenario meant that 50% of the time you either snubbed the Prince’s Truss (sic) thus delivering a left handed haymaker to your public image, or insanely agreed to do a gig for the Campaign For Disgusting Animal Experiments, at which point my ten year old fist would successfully smash the eject button on the fourth attempt and I’d go scream at my Dad, demanding to know when the hell Bullfrog were gonna get off their thumbs and release Theme Park.

    Comment by Paul Bailey | February 16, 2007 | Reply

  2. Was one of the last speccy games I ever played. I used to quite like it, only to rack up lots of money and see how high I could get in the chart. It seemed to have a mind of its own. Rating 6/10.

    Comment by Bouncy Techno | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  3. Yeah also remember spending hours upon hours playing this game. I couldnt have been much older than about 8 or 9, I remember buying it with my brother from WH Smiths (those where the days!) for the Amstrad CPC 464 on cassette. We couldnt ever seem to get all that far but used to really enjoy it. Looking back now I can see it was a bit more ‘adult’ themed, but hey it didnt do me any harm. Classic game.

    Comment by Dom Webb | October 7, 2007 | Reply

  4. did anyone ever complete this game???

    Comment by john | January 24, 2008 | Reply

  5. Wow! What a game, I spent my yoof on this game. I remember being about ten and staying up till the early hours. Never completed it though! Might be worth breaking out the green screen CPC-464 for a serious Rockstar Ate My Hamster sesh! much better than Halo 3 on HD!!

    Comment by Clive | October 15, 2008 | Reply

  6. I like the comment above about being able to remember buying it, where and with whom. I think I can remember just about every Amstrad game, where it came from and the feeling of excitement till I could get home and load it. Sigh, those were the days indeed.

    Comment by STWUTTER | October 15, 2008 | Reply

  7. I completed the game some years ago, but playing that last week I can’t remember how. 🙂 I have some thoughts about words something like “super hit captured” and “mega track” in recording studio, maybe clue is here… What I remember is cheap men in winning group(3 or 4) and my first single had 1st place by somehow…
    Happy new year!

    Comment by Jammer | December 31, 2008 | Reply

  8. After 5 hours playing I finished. ) It seems to me:
    – Sponsors are neccesery for sales(at least I couldn’t get top without them);
    – 4 hit-singles were enough for winning;
    – Used 2 men(Dorissey and Rick Ghastly);
    – MAIN EXPLORATION FOR ME is that publicity has influence with tour sales, tour sales – with best ten singles, best ten singles – with best ten albums and best albums can be platinum in game, not singles! So you “just” need to have albums in first 5 for some time to win the game. Well, I’m not sure for 100%, try it;
    – Influence of words like “supertrack” on single sales was not found exactly;
    – Sorry for my English.

    Comment by Jammer | December 31, 2008 | Reply

  9. Congratulations! You must be very patient. Happy New Year!

    Comment by thesnakebecomesthekey | January 13, 2009 | Reply

  10. once you’d got your band up and running, the tedium of just touring for the majority of the game was offset by the excitement of wondering where your single/album placing would be at the end of each week. I remember being top of the singles and album chart a couple of times and feeling like ‘woah’. Also, for the amount of times I played this game (loads) I don’t think I ever heard the same tune twice (although to call them ‘tunes’ is generous). The spectrum seemingly came up with an infinite number of crap little ditties that were your tracks. I think you were a little harsh on the game in this review overall, it’s pretty innovative and amusing. but glad to see a review of it anyway, brings back some memories!

    Comment by chris | October 20, 2012 | Reply

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