Tool-assisted game movies
When human skills are just not enough

Submission #6877: dekutony's GBA Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games in 19:51.9

Console: Game Boy Advance
Game name: Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games
Game version: JPN/USA
ROM filename: Hamtaro - Ham Ham Games (Japan)(Caravan).gba
Emulator: BizHawk 2.5
Movie length: 19:51.9
FrameCount: 71189
Re-record count: 6324
Author's real name: Tony Leal
Author's nickname: dekutony
Submitter: dekutony
Submitted at: 2020-09-10 23:36:22
Text last edited at: 2020-10-05 15:19:44
Text last edited by: feos
Download: Download (23233 bytes)
Status: published
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Author's comments and explanations:
ok so i've returned to make a TAS about losing as fast as possible, how well did i do

(Link to video)
Nicovideo link: https://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm37613118

Game objectives

  • Emulator used: BizHawk 2.5
  • Fastest completion of the game
  • Skips all minigames for the sake of speed
  • Features cute little hamsters
  • Genre: Sports


Hamha! I'm back from hiatus after a year and a half of making no new (non AF) TASes to make a new TAS of a Hamtaro game that involves losing as fast as possible to get to the credits. Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games is a sports video game developed by AlphaDream (of Mario & Luigi fame) and published by Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance released in 2004 part of the Hamtaro series of games. This the last Hamtaro game for the GBA and the last Hamtaro game published by Nintendo. The game is split up into 7 days. Each day features a series of sports events/minigames that you have to compete in order to progress. There are many areas you can go to and explore that feature these events. After the final event in the 7th day, the game decides who wins the Ham-Ham Games depending how well or how poorly you did across all sports events. After announcing the winner, the credits roll.

This is a TAS of the "any% Unrestricted" category, which lets you beat the game as fast as possible by withdrawing every match. When playing a minigame, you're able to pause the game and pick the "Withdraw" option. This will instantly end the minigame and pretty much skip it, leading into the player losing the match, yet continuing the story. We do this for every necessary sports event across all 7 days. This unfortunately leads into a pretty boring speedrun that doesn't really showcase what the game is like, but it is the fastest way of beating it. That doesn't mean that this game has no strategies or tricks for saving time, however. There's the overworld segments, which is where all of the optimization and strategies come from. Instead of commenting the run day by day, I'll be detailing each of the areas we go to in the overworld so I can explain whats going on a little bit better.

Area comments

Below I list all the areas we go to in this run. There's a couple more areas we can go to, but we never have to go there in this run, so I will not talk about them.


The area you start with and the easiest to explain. You start Day 1 by talking to Bijou, and then you're free to explore. You move diagonally away from the table without even touching it and run in a straight line. In the other days you run right down, then hug the wall and move down to exit. After a day is over you need to go to bed to sleep and end a day. Usually when you enter the Clubhouse and there's no cutscene, from your starting position you run to the right and press up for 3 frames and press A to go to bed. You can press A 1 frame earlier to go to bed by not pressing up, but it is slower. This is because after saying "Yes" when going to bed, Hamtaro will center himself automatically, and the distance he travels depends on where you pressed A on the bed. With no up presses, Hamtaro walks a slightly longer distance. With the up presses, he will walk at the shortest distance, thus jumping into bed at the earliest possible frame. We do this every day. Sometimes NPCs get in the way, but we can adjust to it.


Ok here we go. In order to enter an event, you have to talk to Howdy, the hamster behind the counter after entering the lobby of each area. You enter an area through a digging tunnel underground and leave through the same hole you came from. In the Stadium's case, you just go through a straight line the whole way through. Talk to Howdy at the earliest possible frame and you're good to go. Day 1 is straightforward enough. You as Hamtaro participate in the first event.

Something important I have to mention is this; whenever Hamtaro has to participate, you always want to talk to Howdy at dead center of the counter. If not, Hamtaro centers himself by walking and that loses time, so you'll always want to be at dead center on the events when Hamtaro participates. You sometimes have to line yourself to the center manually in order to avoid walking after talking to Howdy. There's one instance where you can't line into the center without wasting any time, but I'll get into that later.

On every other instance where other Ham-Hams participate, you can do either of two things: You can talk to Howdy dead center, where Hamtaro walks away bottom left from the counter in order for other hamsters to position themselves at the center of the counter. Or, you can line yourself as far away from the center as possible so that when you talk to Howdy, in the right positon, Hamtaro's walking distance is shortened. After skipping all the text, the hamster turns around and leaves the counter to enter the sports event.

This is where it gets kind of not simple. Sometimes after skipping all the text, the hamster will either walk upwards and then move right, they will turn around and move right inmediately, or drift backwards and then start to move right after after some frames. This all depends on where and when you start talking to Howdy.

In the Stadium's case thankfully, running straight to Howdy is the most optimal option, so you don't have to worry about your positioning or timing. All the Ham-Hams walk away instantly without many complications.

After withdrawing, you have to leave and enter another area through the digging hole. This is the other thing to consider, where you enter the hole underground. In the Stadium there's nothing to worry about. Running straight downwards is the most optimal way of leaving this place. Entering and exiting places can be done slightly differently for the sake of variety.

Tennis Court

Ok here's when it starts to get more complicated. You enter this place and you move slightly diagonally right to enter the lobby without slightly bumping into any corners. Most optimal strategy at first is to run straight up and talk to Howdy despite Hamtaro walking away for longer. Then, after Bijou spawns, you delay your inputs for a specific amount of frames, and then skip the text. This is because Bijou drifts backwards for a little while and then walks away. This wastes time. In order to not lose time, you need to wait for Bijou to get into the most optimal position so that she doesn't moonwalk or whatever and walk right instantly. When I realized this, I knew I was in for quite the strange adventure.

After withdrawing, you avoid the bench on the left by going slightly right and run straight, then enter the hole by running diagonally left for a little bit.


This is the other weird area of the game where you have to slightly delay your A presses after the Ham-Ham spawns. You enter the lobby by moving straight. Exit the lobby by pressing right for 1 or 2 frames so you don't bump into an invisible wall. Sometimes, NPCs get in the way and you have to adjust and not bump into any of them. Same thing when you're leaving. This time you exit by running slightly turning left and enter the hole.

There's only one day where you don't participate. The most optimal strategy here is to run straight up, and delay your A presses after Boss and Cappy spawn, kind of like how it is in the Tennis Court but with a few frames of difference. Despite Hamtaro walking away at the longest distance in the run, it's still faster to delay. Boss walks slighly upwards and then leaves, wasting frames. Any teamates will just follow the lead hamster without wasting time, it's the lead hamster that enters the event first where the game fades into white.


This is the only area where talking to Howdy from the furthest, most optimal position is the fastest way of entering an event.

You start by moving diagonally right, avoiding the flower lamp and not bumping into it to enter the lobby. After entering, you move diagonally left for exactly 12 frames and then talk to Howdy. You'll be able to talk to him a few frames late, but you'll make up for it. After skipping the text, the hamster will walk away instantly at the closest position to the entrance and thus save time. On the day where Hamtaro participates, you move 1 frame left or right. This is because Howdy's hitbox to talk to is strange in this area. We can either do that or walk up for 1 frame and then press A, but it pretty much takes the same amount of time.

After withdrawing, exit the lobby and avoid furniture by pressing right down, go downwards for a bit, avoid bumping into the lamp and then move diagonally left for a while to enter the hole at the most optimal position.

The Lawn

This area usually has some NPCs you need to avoid. You start running diagonally left up. I avoid the NPC without bumping into them on the corner of their hitbox. Then run diagonally up again. The exiting part usually doesn't feature NPCs. You go diagonally down right, stop pressing down for a few frames, then press down again.

After entering the lobby, you run straight up and talk to Howdy. No delays or position manipulation necessary, it's basically the same as the Stadium.

Other comments

I always loved watching Hamtaro since I was a kid. The hamsters were always so SO CUTE to me, and I always wanted to hug one. I moved on however, and after seeing the improved TAS of Ham-Hams Unite from illayaya, I was like: "You know what screw it lets finally beat this hamster gbc game." ...And then I did, and I loved it so much I then beat the sequel, Ham-Ham Heartbreak on GBA shortly after. Yeah I got back into Hamtaro after so many years. I still want plusies but have no money :(

I always considered TASing this game since late 2018. After playing through both Ham-Hams Unite and Ham-Ham Heartbreak, and then seeing an improvement to the HHU TAS, I got motivated to finally TAS this game, despite how boring the TAS really is. I was in the middle of TASing a Spider-Man game for Game Boy, but then life, this project, me resyncing old Gameboy TASes for console verification and the realization I had to manipulate RNG and laziness made me pause that project. Now that I'm done with most of that, I'll probably come back to that game soon. It has been more than a year and a half since I submitted a serious TAS, and I hope I can keep up making them like I used to... (i hope)

Special Thanks

  • frozenflygone for her WR speedrun of this category as well as her any% guide on speedrun.com. They were really useful.
  • illayaya for the new Ham-Hams Unite TAS which inspired me to make a Hamtaro TAS myself.
  • むむ for the "No minigame skips" nicovideo TAS from 2012 that let me check which overworld segments I could optimize.

And Thank-Q for reading!

arkiandruski: Judging..

arkiandruski:Okay, let's start.

This run plays through Hamtaro, Ham Ham Games, a collection of minigames centered around a story which takes place in the Hamtaro universe.

The main question in this run rose from the fact that the fastest way to get through the events is to not play them. For every event, there is an option to withdraw from the competition. Doing so still advances the story with no repercussions besides getting last place and getting less reward, both of which aren't downsides in a purely speed-based attack. This turns every event into finding the first frame possible to press start so you can withdraw optimally, which in a TAS setting is very easy to optimize. It has been established that a TAS that purely consists of finding the first frame an event occurs and making sure you hit that event is not eligible for publication.

However, this is not the entire run. There are also story scenes that happen between events. A large part of this run is clicking through text and watching cutscenes, but there are also small sections where the player moves Hamtaro through the world. It is in these segments where any kind of gameplay can be had in the run.

At first I was thinking that these overworld segments might not be enough, pointing to the real time run, which has a time very close to the submitted movie (close enough that the differences between RTA and TAS timing make it seem like the real time run is faster). However, being close in time to the real time run, or even tied with it isn't grounds enough to reject a movie as long as no known records beat it. After looking at some past published movies, I've decided there is enough here to count as a game. While there is a window for controlling Hamtaro's movement optimally, there are opportunities to gain or lost time there. Also apparently there is need to manipulate NPCs so they take the shortest path to the event, which could be seen as something that needs thoughts and weighing possibly non-obvious options.

With that in mind I'm accepting this run into Vault. I assume doing a 100% run would be something like collecting all Hamigo cards?

feos: Pub.

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