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.

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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.

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January 29, 2007 Posted by | Chris Keeley, Wacky rockstar management games | 10 Comments