Happy Wars

4.5 Overall Score

Endearing Artwok, Maps, Charaters | Free to Play/Free Achievments

Competetive Matchmaking 100% Broken | Have to Spend Money to Have Fun | War Really is Pointless

Happy Wars is billed as a free-to-play cartoon war game which allows up to thirty players to engage in skirmishes on various maps, all for the sake of simply tearing down your opponent’s castle. In practice, Happy Wars achieves nearly all of its stated goals, including conveying that war is silly and ultimately pointless. However, the one piece of the puzzle the game leaves out happens to be the most crucial one: it doesn’t actually allow up to thirty players to compete against each other in pointless war. It allows zero.

Currently, any attempts to join in matchmaking result in unsuccessful connections and boots from lobbies. There’s a message on the main page from the developers which states that they are addressing the issue of it taking too much time to get into a multiplayer game, but at this point the only available option is the cooperative mode. That at least will get you into a match versus some bots with a few other players, but the glimpse of the gameplay in operation will likely be enough to dissuade you from coming back.

Initially, the game shows a great deal of promise if you start with the tutorial and familiarize yourself with its key concepts. At the start of a match you spawn inside your own castle as either a Warrior, Cleric or Mage, where each available class has its own set of skills and abilities. Having a well rounded army of these options will benefit players too, as the Cleric and Mage each offer their own buffs and support, but require the physical protection of a stout Warrior. The abilities you eventually gain access to from leveling up run the range from enchanting weapons with fire, summoning tornados or making coordinated phalanx attacks with other team members. You fight your way across the map, taking over Towers (control points) where you and your allies respawn if you fall in battle; the essence of the game is that it is a more childish version of Star Wars Battlefront.

All characters start at level one every game and earn experience through kills, unlocking more powerful abilities. Theoretically, this gives players the opportunity to compete against others on a level playing field, but all level 1 Warriors are clearly not created equal. Playing the lone map of the single player story tells you after the first time that if you want to continue, you are forced to wade into multiplayer. There you will discover that those players who have achieved higher ranks have unlocked more powerful starting equipment, making them nigh invincible.

I would love to say at this point that the game is effectively broken because the matchmaking services don’t balance teams properly, but that’s only just a theory. After four days of attempting to face off against a real human opponent, the competitive multiplayer in the game is still completely non-functioning. The best I can do is point out that when higher ranked players are on your co-op team, they have no problem dealing with and holding their own against AI opponents, whereas you will die in one or two hits against bots that take over twenty of your sword swings to fell. That frustration is only compounded by the fact that in order to advance the single player portion of the game, you have to first achieve a multiplayer rank of six, where each co-op multiplayer match you manage to die-respawn-die-respawn your way through nets you about half a rank (depending on how long it takes you to inevitably die).

Of course, there is always the option to throw money at the problem, despite the fact that this tactic throughout history has proven to be ill-advised. Though Happy Wars is free to download, if you actually want to get anywhere you’ll have to purchase the in-game currency called Happy Tickets with your real life Benjamins. So if there are any gamers out there who have considered (or whose family members have considered) enrolling into Smurf-berries Anonymous, those players should avoid this game at all costs.

It is a huge shame that the execution of such a solid concept turned out so poorly. Even with multiplayer in a fully functioning state, the balance issues inherent in the game could never possibly be corrected – if they were, then there would be no incentive for anyone to sink any money into the title, and the developers would be destitute. The game has some great graphics and beautiful scenery to wage silly war across, and has an entry price point that everyone can afford. While the initial experience with the game is wonderful and something that everyone could download and enjoy, don’t expect that fun to last any more than one play session, after which you’ll be better served to free up that space on your hard drive for whatever Microsoft’s next weekly sale will be.

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Author: Patrick Cassin View all posts by
Patrick has been playing games since the days of Pong. To support his video game habit he got his BA in English. Then he cut down some trees, put out some fires, rescued some dolphins, got paid to go to prison, and arrested someone's horse. Now he writes the things he imagines that you LOL at.

3 Comments on "Happy Wars"

  1. Gustavo Ramirez (@GustavoRAM) October 16, 2012 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Best writer in the indie games scene. =o)

    • Patrick Cassin October 16, 2012 at 11:48 am - Reply

      I’d say you should ask for an autograph, but they’re kind of irrelevant in a world of Copy and Paste — just Ctrl+C as many as you’d like.

      • Gustavo Ramirez (@GustavoRAM) October 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm - Reply

        I hate you so much.

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