Happy Action Theater

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Happy Action Theater
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Happy Action Theater
Family
Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studio
Developer: Double Fine
Release Date: February 1st, 2012
After waiting and spending plenty of hard earned money on bills until the day I could save up enough to finally obtain an Xbox 360 Kinect peripheral, the day finally came. Racing home with my fiancee I found a nice spot for the sensor, plugged it in, and started plowing through the many acquired titles for it. But there had been one Xbox Live Arcade title that kept peaking my interest. Double Fine, the creators of Brutal Legend, had a mini-game driven title named Happy Action Theater on the marketplace, and given their quite wide diversity when it comes to new titles, it was something I couldn’t help but throw some money at. But, was it really worth it?

From all aspects, no. This is a very niche family title that really is aimed towards two demographics. If you don’t happen to be a child under the age of six, maybe eight (but even that is pushing it), or lose your attention for anything over short amounts of time but still are amused by the simplest things in life such a the chiming of keys, then this is definitely not your title. Happy Action Theater wasn’t a bad experience, and there were a few “mini-games” that were kind of fun. The Arkanoid knock off is fun, but you need more than one person or, at least a really epic sugar rush and the body of a four year old to get the most enjoyment out of it. The balloon popping game was entertaining and did lead to a rather funny pillow fight with my fiancee half way through it. There also was a Space Invaders knock off that I had a good deal of fun playing for quite some time.

But, aside some that actually wound up being games, there were others that simply were not. There was a snow-based option that allows gamers to have mock-snowball fights that can prove rather interesting, a disco dance theme that can give you some enjoyment for a little while as you dance around with wildly animated feet among a bunch of funny looking creatures, and a really trippy acid-enduced color pattern from the sixties that puts you in the design as well, making for a superb experience, but more if you’re an easily amused child or high on something. There’s also some lame “mini games” that involve lava filling up part of the screen and letting you splash around like its water, or one that has you growing flowers by hitting vines. But, how can we forget the most important “mini game” of all: Feeding pigeons. However, avoiding their feces was quite possibly the most entertaining bit of this game in general next to when they stare ominously at feet level then proceed to eat me whole in a whirlwind of pigeon madness in what is the most random moment this game provides the players.

Sadly, this game really lacks the one thing that would make any of this worth while to anyone: An option to display pictures. While I was playing, I did want to send the overlayered photos to friends. I wanted to take a photo of myself covered in pigeon crap as I stood statuesque with six birds hanging out on me. I also would have loved to make a photo of myself backing into a building with my rather large ass like Godzilla and it’s tail in the mini game set up with the similar black and white monster film concept where it actually does take photos of you and puts it in a newspaper with customary headline! This really felt like an absolutely wasted opportunity from the moment it began.

Unfortunately, Happy Action Theater also just felt like an absolute waste of my money. For ten dollars (US), I had maybe one hour of aggrivation and five minutes of actual joy. Ten minute of it was just me trying to figure out exactly what the game was since it starts you automatically on the balloon popping game with no title screen whatsoever, not telling you that holding your arm out to access the typical Menu screen would take you to the title screen. But, if that’s not enough, this game comes with fifteen different achievements, two hundred gamerscore, and one of them requires you to have at least six friends hop in frame at once. Sadly, I don’t have friends close enough to come down just to stand in frame, so again this shows the miche quality for children, but even then today’s kids don’t have that many friends nearby.

But, the more the merrier with this title. Happy Action Theater really does feel more like a party title, but not necessarily one for grown ups in any sense. Of course, given the title, that’s basically a given. However, with the promise of so many “mini games,” one would expect more than feeding pigeons and playing in fake lava as if it were the local pool and nothing more than that. Double Fine has put out a good number of titles, and even this one finds an object from their most infamous Brutal Legend as an item in the balloon pop game, which is also related to an achievenent (hint hint) for a little extra fun. But, overall, it was more frustration then anything having to figure out what it is, what I’m doing in each game, and then hearing the fiancee complain about it being so boring and refusing to take part in such “childish games” if they even were that. If you’re an achievement addict, it will easily add some extra points to you score, but it all depends on how many friends you have, or how well you can trick the Kinect sensor. If not, and you don’t it into one of the two aforementioned categories, then this is just a title that really won’t suit you at all.

Overall Score: 4.5/10