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Happy Tree Friends: Blood Money

For: Mobile

Beware sharp objects

Product: Happy Tree Friends: Blood Money | Publisher: Twistbox Games | Format: Mobile | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in, Party/ mini- games | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 358KB | Reviewed on: K810i other handsets | Version: Europe
Happy Tree Friends: Blood Money Mobile, thumbnail 1
When we first saw the title of this game, we were immediately reminded of Hitman: Blood Money. Then we saw the title screen - full of cartoon moose, raccoons and rabbits frolicking to a happy tune - and thought it surely couldn't be more different than a game about a bald man with a barcode on his head who's paid to kill people.

But hang on? Aren't those raccoons carrying barbed wire? And doesn't that one have a chainsaw? Hey... it seems Happy Tree Friends isn't as dissimilar to a game about mass murder as you might think.

Of course, anyone who's watched the Happy Tree Friends internet cartoon series will already know this game isn't going to be a pleasant meander through the woods. Like The Simpsons' Itchy & Scratchy Show on acid, the series has a particularly graphic and imaginative take on cute woodland creatures. Frankly they're just fodder for unfortunate and violent deaths.

If that sounds like something that entertains, this game is for you. Sadly though, the premise (even for your attention span) is so shallow it won't satisfy you for more than a few minutes, despite those seconds being blood-soaked and quite entertaining.

The game's story is simple. Characters Shifty and Lifty, the kleptomaniac raccoon twins, have discovered the local blood bank pays by the pint and, rather than drain themselves dry, they decide it's a better idea to rob their furry friends of fluids instead.

So they lace the woodland's trees with traps and go about throwing their friends into them. This translates into a game that hands you control of Shifty and Lifty, who are holding a trampoline. You move them left and right and bounce one of their so-called friends into as many of the traps as possible.

The game continues for as long as you can keep the hapless animal in the air without letting it hit the ground. You get three victims to bounce before it's game over. The higher the score you get before the end, the more cash you bank.

This score is determined by the number of hazards you manage to throw your bag of blood into. The trees are full of barbed wire, saws and knives. Spilt liquid is translated into points for every one you manage to hit. These hazards appear in groups and you have to hit every one before a fresh batch of sharpies is deployed, so lining up the trampoline to bounce the poor animal at an angle to hit what's left is a necessary skill to master for those big points. Remember Breakout?

As you might have worked out by this stage, it's pretty twisted stuff but thoroughly entertaining to play. The problem though is there's very little depth and it all gets quickly repetitive.

It's something the makers have tried to remedy by including four difficulty levels. We only found the easy and medium ones fun to play however. On hard, the animals bounce so fast it's impossible to move quickly enough to catch them, and on the bloody level, pressing '5' is supposed to add height to each bounce but it doesn't seem to work very effectively.

Another incentive is the ability to unlock new hazards by scoring big points, which does add some variety to the blood-soaked proceedings, but there's not enough of it.

Basically then, Happy Tree Friends uses a pleasantly-twisted concept with pleasantly gory visuals, but there's not anything like an interesting enough learning curve for the game to provide more than the briefest of bloody dalliances.
Happy Tree Friends: Blood Money
Reviewer photo
Kath Brice | 1 January 2008
We like the idea, but there's just not enough depth to Happy Tree Friends: Blood Money to make it more than briefly entertaining
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