I’m almost jealous kids are getting all the high quality Kinect games. It seems fair, however, considering years that shovelware were commonplace on store shelves marketing to a younger audience. I hate getting into the argument of trying to dictate if games are good for people that aren’t me. I have experience as a Pre-School teacher, so I have a good idea of what kids are into. On the flip side, I’m an adult that enjoys drinking, and Happy Action Theater totally caters to that spectrum as well.
Double Fine’s latest can best be described as an unstructured playground. The game purposefully doesn’t have any goals or progression. There aren’t any tutorials and the game simply presents itself as it is. Happy Action Theater is more of a toy than a game. There are 19 activities inspired by what kids pretend to do. One of the activities is simply “the floor is lava”. Players can hide under the lava, splash around, or give themselves fire hands and throw flaming balls all over the room.
The activities remain simple, but the technology behind them is impressive on occasion. Another activity takes pictures of whoever is standing in front of the Kinect. More pictures are being taken, but the pictures already taken of the players remain stationary on the TV, allowing a lot of opportunity for silly shenanigans or horrible ideas. The game also offers plenty of simple ideas ranging from a augmented reality ball pit and stomping around as monsters destroying a city.
Director Mode is the best method of seeing all the game’s content, each of the activities are cycled through in about 1 minute chunks. This allows a parent to simply turn on the game and children can entertain themselves without assistance. The menus are probably easy enough to navigate depending on age. It’s this simplicity that makes Happy Action Theater the charming game that it is.
Drunk adults and children alike will love this game. It’s light on content and doesn’t have the persistence to hold and adults’ attention for very long. The $10 price is a low barrier to entry that makes this a great tool for children to occupy themselves. For others, Happy Action Theater is also a cool way to check out some surprising features the Kinect has. The game is augmented reality and child’s play at its simplest core. The activities aren’t particularly inventive, nor does the game have any goals. It’s the simplistic nature of just being a kid that makes Happy Action Theater a good go-to game for younger kids, or adults with alcohol in the room.