Hamster Bob is a child’s digital coloring book with educational tones. Basically a mobile app for Switch, this is a more entertaining kid’s edutainment game than other kid friendly digital releases.
Please take the scoring of this title with a grain of salt as I, an adult, am clearly not the intended audience for this title.
Probably the most important detail to note is this Switch digital download can be played with a Pro Controller but is best played using the touch screen. The Pro Controller can be used like a Wiimote but pointing at the screen this way is awkward at best; the touch screen is the way to go.
From the main menu, the player selects a page to color, having Hamster Bob narrate along the way. The coloring mechanic makes it easy for the player to color within the lines as each portion of the picture is highlighted one at a time. For example, say you are tasked with coloring a tree. First, the trunk of the tree will be highlighted and only the truck can be colored as the boarders prevent any color from spilling elsewhere. A meter at the bottom of the screen is basically divided into thirds – coloring the truck in this example will fill the meter to three stars if the entire truck is filled with any color. Once the trunk is colored, the game moves to the leaves, and then the apples, and the process repeats. Earning three stars unlocks a sticker viewable from the main menu which is essentially the game’s Achievements/Trophies system.
Although this system makes it easy for youngsters to stay within the lines by finger painting on the screen, it actually limits creativity. The only way to earn stars is to use a high amount of color but the player might only want to use a little bit of color, or mix colors, adjust the thickness of the brush, or make more of a texture. The player is essentially punished for placing color in each section creatively as the game pretty much only wants players to fill in each spot fully. Also, the paintbrush is the only available tool. Instead, the player would benefit from a paint can tool, filling in the entire section with one tap. The game doesn’t acknowledge the colors that are used either. If you want to paint that duck pink, go right ahead. Want a purple tree, no problem. The interface doesn’t teach the player the colors either as it basically says “just go color this thing” as opposed to saying “this is green, and it is the color of grass so let’s color the grass green.” Due to this fact, Hamster Bob is probably best designed for the youngest of players, I’d say 3-4 years old, who just want to play Switch with Mommy or Daddy.
There are a few dozen items to color but there are also a couple other things to do. From the main menu, the player can also dress up Bob using a number of different outfits that can be mixed and matched. It is a little goofy seeing a cartoon hamster wear a pirate hat, party sunglasses, and hold a sabre sword, but it has no effect on gameplay and can be skipped entirely if desired. There is also an option to feed Bob, filling a hunger meter at the bottom of the main menu. From what I can tell, there is no reward for feeding Bob or punishment for letting him go hungry. It is just another task to perform when navigating the main menu.
Bob is voiced by an annoying male voice actor that sounds a little dopey like Disney’s Goofy. However, he speaks slowly so young player should not have any issues following along. Adults will probably find the soundtrack to be annoying, as the music loops quickly, but perhaps younglings won’t know any better.
If you haven’t already downloaded some kid app on your iPad or have grown tired from watching Color Bubblies on YouTube, Hamster Bob is a decent choice for a parent to consider for their up-and-coming gamer.
Not As Good As: Mario Paint (SNES)
Also Try: Coloring Book (Switch eShop)
Don’t Forget About: the million kid apps on the iOS and Google Play store