Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Something for Everyone: Lawn Mowers and Hamsters

Name it, and you can probably game it. The number of niche titles that have cropped up over the years is impressive. Some of them are fairly high quality, but they often languish under the radar. Even though services such as Steam and Wii Ware have made it easier for smaller, independent developers to get their games into our hands, this is still an industry driven by publicity. Games without a large marketing budget all too often get overlooked. And that is a shame because today, more than any other time, just about anything you can imagine has been turned into a video game.

Skeptical, eh?

Let's start with lawn mower racing. First off, this sport is actually a somewhat big deal, complete with its own governing association and television deals with Fox Sports Nets and the Outdoor Channel. While I don't see the USLMRA overtaking NASCAR anytime soon, lawn mower racing isn't exactly the niche product those of us from urban America might suspect. It does indeed have its own video game.

From eV Interactive, Lawn Mower Racing 2007 is available on the XBox and PC right now. If going head to head with such personalities as the late Mr. Mowjangles or Sodzilla appeals to you... good luck. You will probably have to order this one online; I do not recall ever seeing it in stores. As you might expect, I have not been able to find a review either. No need to let that scare you off, however. If other racing games are feeling a bit stale, why not give this a shot?

Maybe racing isn't your style? No problem. Everyone loves small furry creatures, especially when such creatures promise "Hours of Furry Frenzied Fun!" As I write this, Amazon has four copies of Habitrail Hamster Ball available for only $1.79 each (plus shipping, probably). I have looked and I cannot find a thing on this title other than the fact that it includes hamsters and is for sale. It appears to be an action / puzzle game, but it is really hard to say. Still, for less than two bucks, who can argue?

I did find a similar title that might even be a sequel. Developed in the UK, Hamster Heroes for Wii allows up to four person multiplayer and sends the protagonist in his (or her) trusty plastic ball through a variety of environments. Once again, no reviews are available for this title, but that doesn't mean it isn't any good. This looks like a it might be a decent choice for anyone who enjoys whimsical puzzle titles.

A lawn mower game, two hamster ball games... what else is out there? There are mountains of other off-beat and under-publicized titles on the market, and I have barely scratched the surface. Some of these games deserve to be played far more than they are. Keep your eyes open. Any activity you can think of in real life has probably been converted into a video game in some fashion, and those games are only a search away.

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