While a title like “Happy Wheels” might sound like it’s some racing game featuring knockoff characters out of Disney’s “Cars” franchise or a therapeutic game counteracting depression with geometry, the truth is that this flash game combines an amusingly erratic physics engine with gory violence.
The gameplay of Happy Wheels consists of levels, fifteen in total, each of which features a different character and scrolls left to right. The player is tasked with guiding their scooter-mounted avatar to the goal line, while navigating an obstacle course of ramps, gaps and hazards that can sometimes reach nail-biting degrees of difficulty. Despite the game’s punishing hazards, it does not automatically fail a character upon suffering a grievous injury; the developers developed that the avatar can continue to progress even without a head, limbs or a broken scooter. In the case of a broken scooter, the player’s avatar must resort to crawling; when crawling, each limb is controlled by a different input.
Happy Wheels’ presentation is perfectly serviceable, making proper use of music and sound effects without getting obnoxious or overly repetitive. The cartoon-style graphics of Happy Wheels are serviceable, if mediocre; crimson gouts of blood spray from the avatar’s body after a limb becomes severed or broken and every level is designed in such a way that players can distinguish everything necessary to clear a stage.
While the game offers a novel approach to the “physics challenge” genre of games, the novelty quickly wears off. While completion of Happy Wheels is perfectly attainable, it would take an expert not to die once. This difficulty is augmented by the game’s signature physics engine; sometimes an approach that would be perfectly doable glitches out to spectacularly consequence upon the avatar. The game is great for when you want to satisfy a morbid sense of humor but can quickly switch to grating when you actually focus on accomplishing a task.
If you are in the mood for a quick morbid laugh, looking to draw views by streaming it for an audience or maybe happen to be a game designer looking for tips on what to consider in designing a proper physics engine, Happy Wheels may be just the solution to your interests. About the only group that should not give Happy Wheels a chance are children too young to be exposed to bloody cartoon violence.