The Happy Wheels logo
|Developer(s)||Jim Bonacci, Jason Schymick|
|Engine||Box2D Physics Engine|
|Release date(s)||June 4, 2010|
Happy Wheels is a ragdoll physics-based browser game created by Jim Bonacci in 2010. The game features several playable characters who use different, sometimes atypical vehicles to traverse the game's many levels. The game is best known for its graphic violence and the amount of user-generated content its players produce on a regular basis, with game maps shared on a public server.
Happy Wheels' tagline is "Choose your inadequately prepared racer, and ignore severe consequences in your desperate search for victory!" The actual mechanics of gameplay vary because of character choice and level design, despite the player always facing right. Characters can also eject from their vehicles.
The goal of the game also differs depending on the level. In most levels the goal is to reach a finish line or to collect tokens. Many levels feature alternate or nonexistent goals for the player.
Reviewers have noted that Happy Wheels exhibits graphic violence in its gameplay. For instance, players can be decapitated, shot, or crushed by different obstacles. Loss of limb and animated blood loss are also graphic elements.
Happy Wheels features a level editor which allows players to create custom levels of their own. It contains a plethora of tools and objects for level building. Users can upload their maps to a public server where they are accessible.
Indie game developer Jim Bonacci, who was largely the programmer and artist for the game, began work on the game in 2006. Bonacci has said that his inspiration for the game came from other ragdoll physics-based games in the Flash community; his friend and former boss, Alec Cove, had made a verlet physics engine for flash. Bonacci said, "I was messing around with it, and eventually created a guy in a wheelchair that would endlessly fall down a random hill. I thought it was funny and stupid, so I kept expanding on it. It was only meant to be a very small game, but eventually it became my main focus."
In addition, he explained the violent nature of the game in terms of his frustration with how consequences of certain actions were not treated realistically in other game titles:
It always bothered me when...you’d fall off your vehicle and harmlessly bounce around. In other cases, you would have the same canned animation over and over. I’m not sure if it was a lack of detail or concern on the part of the developer, but the consequences of your in-game actions were often improperly illustrated. For me, half of the fun of playing a game that imitates life (sort of), is making mistakes and seeing the end result.
Bonnaci also noted that because gameplay would often involve the player dying repeatedly, he put a great deal of effort into making that part of the game enjoyable.
The full version of Happy Wheels is only available on Bonacci's original website, and demo versions of the game are licensed to other websites. These demo versions only include featured maps and select characters.
There are more than 6 million user generated levels.
Currently, the only other person who helps Bonacci work on the game is Jason Schymick, although others have contributed.
Happy Wheels has received generally positive reviews. It has been recommended by GameSetWatch.com and considered one of the "Best Free Games" by IGN. Its level editor and amount of user-generated content have received praise from reviewers. The over-the-top nature of the violence is also considered humorous; one review stated that "It so genuinely difficult to play Happy Wheels and not just laugh and laugh at the ridiculous ways in which your character can be torn into pieces."
List of characters
- Caoili, Eric. "Happy Wheels: Bloody, 'Severe Consequences'". GameSetWatch. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Meunier, Nathan. "Best Free Games — Happy Wheels". IGN. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Holmes, Kevin. "Severed Limbs and Slam-Dunked Toddlers: An Interview With The Creator of "Happy Wheels"". The Creators Project. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- "Cheap PC Gaming: Three More Cheap Distractions". Cheap PC Gaming. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
- Interview: JIM BONACCI. TJF Today. March 21, 2012. Accessed from March 8, 2013.
- "Totaljerkface.com - Home Of Happy Wheels - Happy Wheels Full Version". Fancy Force. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "'LittleBigPlanet' Vita dated for September". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 22 August 2012.