A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is a collection of minigames designed to improve a child's aptitude in rhythm, shape-recognition, counting, and meaning.. There is a special section just for parents where they can monitor their child's progress and performance, reward children with virtual gifts for good grades, set daily playtime limits from 5 minutes to 10 hours, and manually adjust the difficulty level (although it also adjusts itself dynamically based on results).
What's it about?
The popular Hamtaro anime TV show has inspired several adorable adventure games for handheld platforms, but in HI! HAMTARO: HAM-HAM CHALLENGE, Hamtaro and his gaggle of hamster friends are featured in a brain-training game designed to help younger kids practice skills like rhythm, shape-recognition, counting and meaning.
From Hamtaro's cage (where you can make him drink water, gnaw on a wooden carrot, and other super-cute activities), players venture out into the Square to interact with various hams including Oxnard, Maxwell, and Cappy in 12 different skill-building mini-games. Examples include using the stylus to touch the hamsters at the right time to make them jump, arranging different-shaped blocks so that they fit the given outline, counting how many objects appear on a blackboard, coloring pictures with the same hues shown in the example, counting money to pay the exact amount requested, and replying to Oxnard's request for food by choosing the item that matches his description.
Is it any good?
The game is a winner for both parents and younger kids. For parents, the game offers a control panel to monitor a child's progress and see which areas their child has explored, set limits on gameplay time, and reward good performance by giving virtual gifts that appear in the child's profile.
For kids, the charming Hamtaro theme makes the activities feel like games instead of exercises, and the difficulty level adjusts itself based on performance so the more players achieve, the more challenging the training becomes. That said, the game is skewed to a slightly younger crowd than the Hamtaro adventure games for Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance, so older players would fare better with a title like the Brain Age series.