Happy Wheels Review
Developer/Publisher: Jim Bonacci, Jason Schymick / Fancy Force
Introduction: For this week, let’s look to a classic, yet still fairly recent browser game called ‘Happy Wheels’. Happy Wheels is created by Jim Bonacci, and is still updated from time to time. This is a bit of a difficult game to review, mostly in fact because of how unique of an experience it is. Even classifying Happy Wheels as a type of game is a bit difficult, partially because of the built-in user content creation. The closest genre of games Happy Wheels resembles would be a platformer with racing elements. Happy Wheels has become a very popular game for YouTube “Let’s Play” channels and commentators to play for their content, partially due to the massive amount of varying content in Happy Wheels, and partially due to the natural hilarity that ensues while playing a game like Happy Wheels.
Gameplay: In Happy Wheels, you play one of eleven different character and generally, the objective is to get through the level, although that can change from level to level. These characters can be anything from a dad and son on a bike, to a man on a pogo stick, to a large man driving a lawn mower, and even to a man riding in a helicopter. These characters are sometimes restricted to a specific character depending on the level. Speaking of levels, there are over 1000 new user-created levels PER DAY. Now, of course, a large majority of these user-created levels are not very fun at all, and sometimes are barely even ‘levels’. Other times though, these levels are amazing and obviously have a massive amount of effort put in them. Sometimes, these user-created levels are even added as featured levels on the main screen if they’re particularly good. Even if you get bored with playing the actual game, you can go into the level editor and create your own level to play and potentially publish and share with friends in order to infuriate them.
One of the biggest pluses for Happy Wheels is the sheer number of different levels. Every time you play, you can play brand new, sometimes ingenious levels. Each level typically doesn’t take any more than 10 minutes to beat, not including of course the potentially large number of attempts the level may take to complete. Some levels are ridiculously easy, requiring a single jump or simply holding forward to complete, whereas some levels are insanely difficult, and will require perhaps upwards of a hundred attempts to finally complete. Fortunately, most games should be relatively easy for your average person to complete, particularly the 4 or 5 star rated levels. This might be because the levels are typically created by your average person in the first place. Usually, it’s good to avoid 1 or 2 star rated levels, as they tend to be either insanely difficult, easy, uncreative, or simply just bad. It would be nice if there was a way to set a ‘difficulty’ attribute of your level when you create it, but the issue with such a feature is that it’s completely subjective.
Graphics: As far as graphics go, they’re actually quite simple overall for the most part. Every sprite would be easy and quick to make in an image editing software, besides perhaps the character sprites, which are a bit more complex. The particular graphics this game is well known for is the blood and gore of the characters when they lose a limb, or just flat out explode into a number of giblets. You can even increase or decrease the amount of blood that appears, or for those who are more squeamish or with slow computers, you can even disable it completely, although doing this does tend to take a little away from the outrageousness of the game.
Audio: Even more than the blood and giblets of the game, Happy Wheels is well known for the audio, specifically that of the characters and the characters exploding. Whenever the characters are hurt, they play a sound, either randomly chosen or one specifically based off of what part of the character was hurt. One of the most infamous sounds made by a character is the sound the old man character makes when his leg gets hurt: “Ow, my leg!” It’s possible for the character to get to a point where it continually plays that same sound, typically leading to utter hilarity. The audio of Happy Wheels is done spectacularly, and the combination of the ridiculous character giblet explosions and fleshy explosion audio making even dying an often times hilarious experience. One flaw with the audio of Happy Wheels is that there is no in game music, which would be a nice feature.
Verdict: Even being a difficult game to review, it’s clear to see why the game is so popular. The amount of content, the amount of different play styles, and the amount of ridiculousness that ensues on every playthrough is a bundle of joy. Though Happy Wheels is quite a unique game as mentioned in the introduction, it still takes inspiration from a few other games, most noticeably from the Trials series, a racing platforming series of games where the player rides a motorcycle through a level. However, rather than trying to simply copy the Trials series, Happy Wheels takes the idea and expands upon it greatly in order to separate itself as it’s own game, rather than as a copy cat. Happy Wheels definitely deserves a 6/6, and is one of the best browser based games out there.