Buster’s Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam is a 2D top-down platformer and the first ever release from Indie Remix Studios. A brand new two-man indie studio of Adam Kessler and Jerome Bjornstad. Adam and Jerome describe Indie Remix Studio on their website as:
Indie Remix Studios is a video game software development company. We take old, tried and true video game concepts and ideas and re-make them into new, fun, and exciting games.
Buster Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam fits into that vision perfectly! There is no denying its “old skool” influences. They are instantly apparent in the games visual style and even more so in its gameplay.
In Buster Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam you play as either Buster or Busterina on a quest to save your significant other who has been Hamster-napped by the evil penguin overlord. Not only has he put together over 150 puzzles to hinder the heroic quest he has also recruited every single forest critter to thwart you at every turn.
The first thing to grab your attention with Buster’s Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam is the extremely nostalgic graphics. This game just screams Commodore C64. From the second you click on a new game you are confronted with the customisation screen which is essentially changing the colour of your hamster’s helmet but it is the graphic style and layout that instantly transports you back to that golden C64 age.
This feeling of nostalgia is cemented the moment you start up the 1st level. The fact that you can only use the D-pad to move and not the analogue stick is a nice touch along with the fact that the restricted movement and speed kind of forces you into an economy of movement to get through each level.
The graphics and control scheme combined with the music of the game and you have a beautifully crafted nostalgic experience.
I have probably used the word nostalgia more than I have actually written Buster’s Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam at this point but seriously it is the best way I can describe this game. If you are of a certain age *cough cough* the instant you start Buster’s Quest you are overwhelmed with wistfulness and fond memories of childhood gaming.
It isn’t just the graphics, sound and controls that take you there but the frustratingly difficult gameplay too. In true retro style Buster’s Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam is a game that wants you to lose. The puzzles start off fairly difficult at first and ramp-up in difficulty as you progress.
There are items and equipment to collect to help you on your quests such as hamster balls to shoot and trap enemies in and pickaxes to remove rocks in your way. All of these items of course are extremely limited so use them with great consideration.
As well as items to collect some obstacles on the levels can be pushed out of the way you will often find that pushing them one square too much will result in you having to restart the level. Trust me you will restart a lot and the rage will build extremely quickly.
Buster’s Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam is a quaint, retro title that instantly transports you back to the golden age of retro games. While personally, I love Buster’s Quest, unfortunately, I can only see it appealing to gamers of a certain age.
For example, when asking my 17-year-old son for his opinion on the game he played about 5 mins before refusing to play anymore. It just didn’t hold any appeal to him. Whereas 40+ gamers will adore this title.
Buster’s Quest: Trails of Hamsterdam is a basic game and that is perfectly fine. Its charm and its difficulty mean it doesn’t need to be anything more. It is a fiendishly difficult and nostalgically joyous game but I just worry it is too niche for most gamers to give it the love and attention it deserves.