Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Cricetinae Almighty: Stunt Hamsters

Thursday, March 16th, 2006 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 103 votes, average: 3.70 out of 5)

Stunt Hamsters was a product of the third Indie Game Jam, which placed 21 game developers in one room for four days to hammer out a bunch of experimental games. Each Indie Game Jam has been themed, and the theme of IGJ2 was “Physics in Gameplay”, or, more explicitly, “Physics must be good for something besides ragdolls and exploding crates!

How to Play

The game’s readme.txt file describes the action as follows:

In this game, you will see cute, furry, ignitable hamsters fire out of cannons at fixed rates until the total number of hamsters for a level have been fired. You can click and drag the mouse on a cannon or other world object to spin it around. You can click and drag elsewhere, on hamsters, to suck them up and re-fire them out of the cannon. The goal is to get the required number of hamsters into the spinning purple vortex goal. On the simplest level, you just point the cannon at the goal. In the later levels, the task becomes more complicated.

You simply click on hamsters to remove them from the level. You’ll want to do this when the maximum concurrent number of hamsters is reached. There is no limit to how many total hamsters will spawn, and no time limit. The levels are more like puzzles; you need to figure out exactly which sequence of events is required to get the hamsters into the goal.

Hamster States

Hamsters have four states, essentially: normal, normal-on-fire, halved, and halved-on-fire. Of course, fire spreads. When a burning hamster touches non-burning hamsters, it sets them on fire. When large caches of unlit hamsters ignite, they explode and generate impulses on nearby objects. The water spout object in the playfield turns on-fire hamsters back into normal hamsters (including halved-on-fire hamsters).

The games’ puzzle elements rely on these states. Some stages require you build up a cache of normal hamsters, and then detonate them to push blocks out the way or push hamsters to the goal. On another stage–seen in the first part of the video–you need to cut hamsters into pieces to get them to the goal, then set them on fire in order to reconstitute the halves into normal hamsters again.

Simulation Management

What’s fun about Stunt Hamsters, to me, is that you’re managing a simulation of sorts. You don’t have any direct control over the hamsters’ motion. Instead, there are only a few objects to fiddle with. Typically you’ll make a few changes to the angles of the objects, observe the results, and then twiddle with the few variables you do control. Zeroing in on your imagined solution is very addictive. The closer you get, the more you’re sure things are going to work.

Physics Engine

Stunt Hamsters is powered by Atman Binstock’s 2D physics engine. The engine is optimized for stacking, which tends to make objects a little sticky. All collisions are inelastic, too; bouncing isn’t supported. Apparently these limitations initially caused a few design headaches during the game jam, until people became conscious of them and designed for the particular set of features.

Stunt Hamsters Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Stunt Hamsters Game Screenshots)

A Note on the IGJ2 Games

There are a lot of other physics games available for download, although bear in mind that they were designed for PS2 dual shock controllers. Some games have no keyboard/mouse input, and you’ll need the identical PS2-to-USB converter as the developers to have the button mappings line up properly if you do have a controller lying around. Thankfully, Stunt Hamsters has mouse-only controls.

The source code for some of these games is available, too. Unfortunately, the physics engine code isn’t available, so you won’t actually be able to compile anything. Atman’s engine, along with the rest of the games’ code, was supposed to have been released under the GPL. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though; the event was two years ago.

Also, a Gamasutra article is available with some general post mortem-style information on IGJ2 itself.

Highly Trained, Indeed

Sadly, Stunt Hamsters only has a meager 7 levels to play. It’s a great proof of concept, and would certainly be enjoyable to play if it were made into a full product. Even still, it’s an amusing way to kill some time and a great example of a fun physics game.

Download Stunt Hamsters here (4.28MB), or head on over to the Indie Game Jam website for the rest of the physics games.

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11 Responses to 'Cricetinae Almighty: Stunt Hamsters'

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  1. Thomas said,

    on March 20th, 2006 at 5:10 am

    Curses, wish I had the time right now to try this out. Looks like a wild concept.

  2. Verners said,

    on March 28th, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Great game.

    Someone actualy completed the 7th level with the big rock?

  3. Josh said,

    on June 13th, 2006 at 9:40 am

    This is just a ripoff of falling sand

  4. Matthew said,

    on June 13th, 2006 at 9:45 am


    Uh, how exactly is this a clone of falling sand? Because they both employ gravity? I’m not really following the connection.

  5. Josh said,

    on June 13th, 2006 at 10:05 am

    yeah you’re right, i guess i should have played the game before posting, the video above looked a lot like falling sand at the time.

  6. .daBlog said,

    on July 5th, 2006 at 11:42 am

    […] Cricetinae Almighty: Stunt Hamsters » Fun-Motion Physics Games […]

  7. Tom said,

    on July 22nd, 2006 at 11:09 am

    How do you get past the level with the two big spinning blades?

  8. Dazuro said,

    on July 23rd, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    Aim both cannons at an angle so that the hamsters hit each other and bounce off. It won’t happen every time, but eventually a hamster will get knocked into the portal. Keep clearing out the bottom until ten make it in.

  9. Niyou77 said,

    on November 22nd, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    Why is it that half the games on this site dont come with the folders that you put the ‘data’ and ‘music’ in?

  10. tricknasty said,

    on December 1st, 2006 at 9:31 am

    how do you get the big rock to move after the two spinning blades level? every time i try the rock doesn’t move much and falls back into place. the explosion force seems to be going down. any help?

  11. john Miller said,

    on January 10th, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    YIPPY! I just beat the game! nothing really happens when you beat it though, it just repeats itself. and you start at level one agian. =(

    On the very last level (the second one with a big bolder.. and this one is BIG) I just used the area to the left and made a big explosion. it moved the rock so that it now covered the other hole, the one I am trying to open up… so that i can shoot my hamsters at the spiral thing. But then I loaded that chamber back up agian with 85 hamsters :) and blew the rock all the way to the right side of the upper level. and then I just shot my hamsters right at the spiral.. and beat the level in just two explosions. hope that helps you all! =D

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