In the 1986, the UK's Sun tabloid who had a habit of outrageous headlines news stories ran an article declaring 'Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster'. Such was the inspiration for lone developer Colin Jones to create A Rockstar Ate My Hamster in 1988. It was so good that Codemasters took it upon themselves to release it on several home systems popular in the UK including the Amiga
You are an upstart management company representing up to four out of 50 potential rock stars. In keeping with the irreverent British humour, they are all given pun-tastic names including Wacko Jacko, By George and Rick Ghasty. I'll leave you to guess who they're based on. Here's a couple of others that came as free stickers with the game:
You start by picking from the crème de la crème of the business like Bill Collins (not much of a pun - perhaps the designer was a fan) or the down and out likes of Garry Glitter wannabe Sidney Sparkle. Once you have your star on your pay roll, it's time to put them to work. You can either make them practice, do some gigging or attempt to get their name in the papers. Make sure you also keep them happy with gifts otherwise they'll become very unruly with outrageous and expensive demands while on tour.
If you're popular enough, the phone will ring with various opportunities. Eventually you may get a call from a record label that wants to produce your album. This is where some clever programming for the time comes in as all of the songs are randomly generated. While a great feature, the flaw is that most songs will sound pretty much the same. You can then release the album or a single and see how well they chart. The goal is to get four platinum discs within a year whereby you can then do the whole thing again. If not, it's game over.
This isn't the only way you can fail though. An attempt at promotion could lead to your star dying of a drug overdose or they leave because you are not meeting their diva-esque demands. The most common, however is simply bankruptcy so pay attention to what you're spending.
The game relies on random encounters for you to win. While there is some strategy in bigging up your musicians with a seeming correlation between sold out gigs and chart success, there is no obvious clear way to meet your goals.
It's a very simple game that would easily find home amongst all of the shovelware on smartphones. In 1988, however, this was quite unique, so much so that I cannot think of another game that shares it's themes and subject matter. It sold pretty well at the time (perhaps boosted by The Sun's heavy backing) and gained a lot of positive reviews. Nowadays, it is more of a curiosity of older times before Project Yewtree and other scandals gave a lot of these stars a far darker aura.
If you play in short blasts, though it is a lot of fun. The random nature leads to some hilarious situations and you genuinely are excited to see your song rise the charts. If you take a glance at the manual, you'll also be treated with a fake newspaper with amusing articles amongst the reference guide.
One final note, this game is very much adults only. Being backed by The Sun, the sleazy headlines and Page 3 models are all accounted for in their pixellated glory.
Overall, it is a fun little diversion that won't take too much of your time, but will garner a few irreverent laughs from it's silly humour. Check it out.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses FS-UAE to emulate the Amiga version on PCs. Keyboard and mouse controls are supported. Tested on Windows 7.
File Size: 17 Mb. Install Size: 28 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
A Rockstar Ate My Hamster is © Codemasters
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me