IGN dubbed the Happy Wheels game as one of the “Best Free Games”, which is not surprising considering the game play and replay-ability of this cross-genre flash game. Happy Wheels is basically an action game which makes use of ragdoll physics and showcases black comedy and racing themes. You have only one goal, and that is to make sure that some hapless character you control “wins”. You will need to do whatever it takes though. The consequences are pretty drastic; your character would probably end up dead, or alive, but with missing limbs.
You may think that the game is for kids after seeing the graphics for the first time, but wait until you actually play a level. You may be surprised at how graphic it can get. You get to choose between characters you don’t normally see in racing/action games such the “Wheelchair Guy, the irresponsible Dad (or Mom), the Lawnmower Man, the Segway guy, Santa Claus man, and the Moped couple. This just shows how quirky the game developers and designers are. The game can be glitchy at times, but even the glitches usually lead to more fun because they result to sillier and more random results.
It can be said that the levels is also why this game is such a huge success. Each level is themed, ranging from wacky zombie attacks to Renaissance fairs. Every level (and the entire game itself) has this quirkiness and randomness that you just can’t help but love.
Controlling your character is simple. The UP and DOWN arrow keys are for acceleration and deceleration or reverse. The LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys are for leaning. The Z key is for eject. The spacebar can be used for specific actions (i.e. when you need to grab a hold of something). You can even use the arrow keys to have your character writhing on the ground or choose between silly poses.
What makes this game special is that, for every action you choose to execute, there will be highly specific consequences. The outcome is also affected by other in-game or environmental factors. Game developer Jim Bonacci made use of ragdoll physics in order to ensure that you will never get the boring, inaccurate and generic “Sorry, You Lose” graphics whenever you fail to nail level goals. In fact, the fun is in finding out the numerous ways by which your character can get messed up by miscalculations or wrong moves. This results to highly addictive gameplay, and also better replay-ability.
This game has received positive reviews not just from indie reviewers but also from more mainstream sites. Most users love the ragdoll physics aspect, while some love the gore. Some love both. If you are a fan of gore and you want an action game that can give you hours of good old fun, you will want to try this game. If you want the full version, you can check out Jim Bonacci’s site. Bonnacci also released a demo version, which is why there are loads of user-modified versions in various websites.
Few games in the flash games genre have unapologetically made use of such gore and dark humor, but the Happy Wheels game pulled it off – and quite well.