Happy Wheels is a somewhat disturbing game by Jim Bonacci. It is entirely free to play, and can only be played in a browser. You don't even have to register in order to play, but doing so gives you the added benefit of being able to save your replays and rate levels you have played. And you will want to save some of those.
The game can be played here.
The game is fairly easy to pick up and play. The controls are shown under the game window, and they are very simple. Since the game relies entirely on user-generated content, every map can have a different goal. Most of them do have a goal area you must reach, while the way to get there can be everything from driving in a straight line to not being able to reach it by design. While the game has a timer on each map it doesn't follow the normal racing-game mentality most of the time. Some maps are made with getting the best time in mind, but mostly the game is about simply getting to the finish line in one piece.
The physical damage system is the signature trait of Happy Wheels. Limbs will snap off and hang from your body by tendons alone, crushing weights and explosions will render people not entirely unlike chunky salsa, and spikes are likely to line every surface beneath the track. Your character will function through all this, but will die if the spine, heart, or head are injured or destroyed. In addition, if certain characters are damaged in specific ways, they will no longer be able to operate their vehicle. For example, if Segway Guy loses both of his arms, he won't be able to hold onto the segway controls, and will fall off, forcing a reset. The damage system is wildly unrealistic, and very deliberately so, with characters exploding into pieces with the slightest provocation, and is similar to the ridiculously over-the-top nature of something like Mortal Kombat.
Characters and Vehicles
Each character controls a specific vehicle, and in some cases one character is actually two. Bonacci is adding new characters as he continues to support Happy Wheels, so there is no telling what might be possible in the future.
These are the four characters available from the beginning, but their ranks are quickly growing.
This is simply an old homeless man in a wheelchair. Well, he does have a rocket strapped to it you can control. One of the more difficult characters, as the wheelchair tips over easily, and the rocket is also hard to control. But with practice you can fly to wherever you want.... usually. Special ability fires the rocket, additional controls rotate the rocket clockwise or counter-clockwise.
A rather standard character, but a fairly popular one. Due to his standing position on the Segway, just about any high fall will easily break the character's shins and force him to be dragged behind it, which severely limits his jumping height. Not an especially powerful vehicle, and one of the most vulnerable due to his exposed position, the Segway Guy is nonetheless useful as he is the most easily-controlled character, and thus is the avatar of choice for precision driving. Special ability is to jump.
Arguably the most demented character in the game, and also the most popular. This character uses a simple bike, but he has his Son with him, which can make for macabre-yet-hilarious scenarios as strong bumps will dislodge the kiddy seat and send the unfortunate Son hurtling towards his doom. The player can retain control of the vehicle as long as Dad is alive; from a gameplay perspective, it doesn't matter whether the Son survives or not, but the Dad will be mildly annoyed if he dies. Unfortunately, due to the fact that Irresponsible Dad uses a pedal bike, his is the least powerful vehicle in the entire game. No special ability. Additional controls include jettisoning the Dad and the Son separately from each other and changing the camera to focus on the Son instead of the Dad.
A morbidly obese lady driving a motorized shopping cart filled with groceries. This big lady is a big target, and all that fat doesn't seem to protect her from taking damage. Main drawback is a severe lack of power, and the fact that the groceries inevitably slow her down when they get under her wheels. Special ability is to jump.
These characters was added months after the game was first introduced to the internet. More will most likely come.
This couple uses a moped which is somewhat heavy. It is therefore very dangerous. Like Irresponsible Dad, this vehicle carries two characters, and the player can still succeed even if the Girlfriend is killed, as long as the Boyfriend survives. Aside from the weight, the Couple handles very much like the Dad, and with the motor giving it more power and the ability to boost, they are superior to the Dad in all aspects. Special ability is a speed boost, which is limited by a meter that appears in the upper right of the screen while the Moped Couple is selected. Additional controls include jettisoning the Boyfriend and Girlfriend separately from each other.
Not to be confused with the terrible Pierce Brosnan movie. The lawnmower you ride with this character can actually suck up and shred characters who touch the blade fan at the bottom of the machine. Far and away the most powerful vehicle in the game, but also the heaviest, making the Lawnmower Man ideal for smashing through obstacles, but less so for speed and precision. Just as with the Effective Shopper, the overweight Lawnmower Man makes a very big target. Special ability is to jump.
The Explorer Guy is a new character as of July 22, 2011, an obvious parody of Indiana Jones who rides in a mine cart. There is also an added rail system that he can ride on. Almost useless in practice, the mine cart is prone to tipping over at the slightest provocation, causing serious damage to the Explorer Guy. About the only positive point about the character is that the cart protects the rider from damage from all directions except above, and that it's rather sturdy and can smash through obstacles given enough speed. Special ability (held) locks the mine cart onto "gravity rails", but doesn't work very well.
Added in December 2011, this vehicle consists of three separate characters; Santa Claus himself rides in his traditional sleigh, and two Elves drag the sleigh in place of the traditional reindeer. Far and away the biggest vehicle, many earlier levels were not designed with Santa in mind and cause the Elves to spontaneously explode as they spawn in a wall or other shape. Santa has the ability to use Christmas Magic to make the sleigh glide for short periods of time, allowing the sleigh to cross gaps with ease. Unlike the other multiple-character vehicles, the sleigh remains under player control as long as any of the characters are alive; the sleigh can continue to move forward even if both Elves are dead, and the Elves can drag the sleigh even if Santa has died. However, the gliding ability is only available while Santa is alive. Special ability (held) triggers the gliding ability, which is limited by a meter in the manner of the Moped Couple. Additional controls jettison Santa and the two Elves separately from each other.
Pogo Stick Man
Added in April 2012, this unique character isn't the first to do away with the wheels of the game's title (that honour goes to Santa Claus), but he is the first who does not control with smooth, linear motion. Voiced by Nova, a popular YouTube "Let's Player" who has brought a lot of attention to Happy Wheels with an ongoing series of videos showcasing it, the Pogo Stick Man hops along in a jerky motion to get to where he's going. Amusingly, given the difficulty of mastering a real pogo stick, Pogo Stick Man is one of the hardest characters to tip over, as he is capable of righting himself from nearly any landing that doesn't kill him. Holding up causes the Pogo Stick Man to take small, controlled hops forward, but some players idiotically don't realize this and rely entirely on rotating the character to move forward. Special ability is a super jump; hold down the space bar to charge it up, then release to launch Pogo Stick Man high into the air.
Added in November 2012, this character is, as the name suggests, just a female version of the über-popular Irresponsible Dad character, and rides a bicycle with near-identical properties. The primary differences, aside from voice acting, are that the Mom brings a Daughter as well as a Baby with her, and that the Daughter rides on her own (detachable) bicycle seat, pedalling alongside her mother and weighing down the back of the bike, while the Baby rides in a basket on the handlebars. Additional controls eject the Mom, Daughter, and Baby separately from each other. It is unknown if the Irresponsible Dad and Mom are meant to be married to each other.