The main game mode is Tournament, where the goal is to race against the clock to the goal of 15 races that get harder and more elaborate as the game goes on. Any time left over is carried on to the next race, so speeding through the early races is essential.
Time Attack challenges you to finish one of the races to get bronze, silver and gold medals, and the Golden Weasel trophy.
Multiplayer modes include 2-player racing on any of the unlocked races and up-to-4 player 'Rodent Rumble' games, where the goal is to knock your opponents of the arena while not falling off yourself.
Hamsterball provides examples of:
- All the Worlds Are a Stage: The Master Race features many enemies and obstacles from the previous races.
- Blackout Basement: The Neon Race. At least your hamsterball can glow in the dark!
- Color-Coded Multiplayer: When playing in any of the multiplayer modes, Player 1 controls a white ball, Player 2 controls a blue ball, Player 3 controls a red ball, and Player 4 controls a yellow ball.
- Developer's Foresight: Playing 2-player in The Master Race? Bonk The Hammer doesn't destroy the whole path when he appears.
- Easy-Mode Mockery: On Pipsqueak difficulty, not only are you unable to unlock tracks, arenas, and the Mirror Tournament, your scoring is halved.
- Eternal Engine: The Impossible Race, despite the game being designed for slower computers. The music that plays during this race is fitting.
- Gravity Screw: The Odd Race, having all sorts of curved surfaces and slopes from floors to walls and back, which let you roll on walls and ceilings by shifting your gravity to them as you roll on the transitioning checkered floors that let you do so.
- Mad Marble Maze: Well, it was based on Marble Madness...
- Mirror World: The Mirror Tournament, just like Mario Kart!
- Nintendo Hard:
- If the normal difficulty doesn't qualify, the Frenzied difficulty does.
- In terms of races, the Master Race would be this, accompanied by the Impossible Race in the Updated Re-release.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Glass Race, while not technically being made of ice, will frustrate you to no end due to this.
- Updated Re-release: Adding the Neon Race, Glass Race and Impossible Race, with their corresponding arenas.