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Happy Street

For:   Also on: AndroidiPhoneiPad
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Paved with gold

Product: Happy Street | Publisher: Godzilab | Format: Android | Genre: Simulation | Players: 1 | File size: 34.7MB | Version: Europe
 
Happy Street Android, thumbnail 1
If Animal Crossing has taught us anything, it's that woodland animals are slavish consumers. The stars of Happy Street are very definitely cut from the same cloth - behind their wide smiles and twinkling eyes are torrents of uncontrollable greed.

At first, though, Happy Street tries to hide its capitalist leanings with the kind of pastel hues and folksy, laidback tunes you'd expect to find in Nintendo's classic village sim.

After touching down in some unspoiled meadow, you're immediately accosted by a furtive canine type with a thing for snooping in the bushes.

Before you know it, you've got one foot firmly on the property ladder after acquiring a tumbledown shack with a handful of tenants and a small-scale fruit stall, all slowly raking in the pennies.

It's all very Animal Crossing, but there's also a distinct whiff of Kairosoft's Mega Mall Story in Happy Street's sandbox spending.

Build it and they will come

Your ultimate goal is expansion. You have to earn enough gold to build new shops and scenery, creating a more healthy economic outlook in the process.

Each structure has its own unique percentage bonus, boosting profitability depending on its proximity to other buildings. Of course, better bonuses come from pricier buildings, meaning that the spending loop quickly turns into a spiral.

As with most iOS freemium games, progression is a pretty passive affair, with cash-gathering, character-levelling, and construction all occurring over increasingly lengthy pockets of real time.

That means all but the most patient types are likely to start ogling Flooz, the game's consumable in-app purchase currency, in a bid to speed up development and enjoy a sense of gratifying momentum.

Bait and Switch

To its credit, Happy Street does its best to disguise its designs on your wallet with a fair amount of busywork. Shops have simplistic micro-management systems tied to character-levelling, a neat mission structure offers rewards for meeting specific expansion criteria, and there's even a resource-gathering sub-game.

Wood, for instance, enables you to produce more buildings, while the likes of fruit and fish can be used to cook increasingly exotic, crowd-pleasing dishes.

Unfortunately, whether you're poking passersby or getting ready to unleash a chip-tune-accompanied spending spree, Happy Street's undeniably appealing sense of whimsy simply can't mask its paper thin core mechanics.

Before long, the game's early charms and easygoing progression evaporate as the need for investment in time or money skyrockets. 

In paying gameplay homage to Animal Crossing, Happy Street just goes to illustrate how much less enjoyable that game would be if it were built around micro-transactions. Even so, its ample personality and pleasing Crayola hues make it ever so slightly more tolerable than most games of its kind.
 
Happy Street
Reviewer photo
Matt Wales | 10 August 2012
Happy Street is a charming freemium builder that fails to live up to its inspiration thanks to a gameplay-distorting freemium model
 
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