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Happy Wars XBLA Review

Happy Wars is the first of its kind on Xbox Live, and by “First of its kind” I mean that it is a F2P (Free-to-Play) game with all the features you would expect from a paid Xbox Live Arcade title (And I am talking about a full release game, nothing like Dorito’s Crash Course here!).

Happy Wars was developed specifically for Xbox Live by Microsoft Studios and Toylogic Inc. and is promising devastating comical warfare in chaotic 15-vs-15 player games.. all while being absolutely free.

I am going to review this game in full and tell you all what you can expect from Xbox Live Arcade’s first Free-to-Play Game.  This is my review of Microsoft Studio’s and Toylogic Inc.’s Happy Wars!

Getting Started

Downloading Happy Wars, you can expect a download size of 445.81 MB of space to be taken from your hard drive, I do not think this is bad at all for what they are promising.  Once the download was completed I promptly started it up.

You would see the ratings sign, the Microsoft Studio logo, the cool intro for the Toylogic logo, and the lack of a game intro as you go directly to the “Game Start” screen.  Something that catches my eye immediately is the whole “Game Release Celebration Campaign.  20% off in the Item Shop!”, this reminds me of many other free to play games such as Maiet’s “GunZ: The Duel” and Mobage’s “Rage of Bahamut“.  I am hoping that this game is not one of those F2P’s that requires you to buy extra content in order to stay competitive and have a chance of winning.

Glancing over the options you have once you reach the main menu, you have the choice of: Play, Leaderboards, Achievements, Help & Options, Download Content, Recommendations, and Exit Game.  I will cover each of these in a later section of this review.  In additional to this, they have a marquee that runs along the bottom of the screen with useful information, similar to what they do in TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2.

Tutorial – “Welcome to Happy Wars!” / Character Class Summerization

Happy Wars Warrior Class

When you go to play the game will ask you if you want to go to the tutorial if it is your first time playing through.  Once you select this option you will be brought to the tutorial’s main menu screen where you will have a choice of three different tutorial sections to run through, each one after the first is marked by “???” and are unselectable, showing that you will have to complete the tutorials in order so that you may unlock the rest .

#1 – The Introduction to War (Warrior Class)
The first section you start off with is “The Introduction to War” with the marquee at the bottom (Now stationary) displaying a description of the selected option, “Learn the rules of war”.  Once you pick this option you will be taken to an opening cinematic which shows why they are warring in the Happy Wars world.  A comical conversation between opposing warriors is friendly as they discuss the weather, only to turn hostile on each other once they find out they disagree about how you should spend a cold day outside (One side wants to relax in the comfort of one’s own home, the other thinks you should exercise in order to stay warm), and that means war!

This section of the tutorial allows you to pick a Warrior and seems to focus on the small things about combat.  Such as X being the attack button, your Special Attacks/Skills being mapped to A, B, and Y (You can have 3 Special Attacks/Skills per button and each use of them consumes your AP or Action Points; you can also switch between the skills for each specific button).  It also shows you how to Guard yourself by pushing the Right Trigger (Which you can push X to attack as well, but you are slower than when you are not holding your shield).

It also build a tower (Which allows you to respawn back from that location once you die) which you can do by holding down the Left Trigger.  Once you begin to hold down Left Trigger, your character will take out an oversized mallet/hammer and begin to slug away until something that resembles a totem pole is built.   Once you die, you can choose any class you want and choose that spot as a respawn location.  Later you are then told that in order to win you have to destroy your enemies “Big Tower” located on their side in their castle in order to win the game.

After you finish this part you will run through a small scrimmage to shower you how the game would play like; they also introduce to you a few new things over the course of this game, such as showing you have to break down the enemies castle gate, When you finish running through this tutorial and destroy the enemies tower, you will receive the rights to go onto the 2nd tutorial section which seems to be “Mage Training” and earn an Achievement called “First Victory” which is good for 10 Gamer Score.

#2 – The Introduction to Magic (Mage Class)
The second section you play through is “The Introduction to Magic” with the marquee at the bottom (Now stationary) displaying a description of the selected option, “Learn the magic attacks”.  Once you pick this option someone tells you to select the Mage class and that you should have mastered magic by the end of it. By this point I am guessing that because there are three different classes, and the 2nd is a Mage, that all of the tutorials are nothing more than showing you the small intricacies of each character.

The Mage seems to be a class that has mastery over magic attacks (Which seems to be the case in every game that a mage is in).  Magic Shots can be fired by pushing the Right Trigger, and just like your Skills they seem to consume AP.  Even more than that, the skills a Mage has also seem to be long distance, allowing you to hold down the B button and guiding the arrow for the path of the magic and then releasing it to let it off at the desired location.

Next off seems to be your Enchant Skills, which allows you to imbue yourself or your allies with different elements that give your attacks different properties and effects, for example:  By casting a Wind Enchantment on yourself, your default attack of X now is able to give a “Stun” effect to the enemy, similar to throwing a rock at your enemies with the Warrior Class; even your Magic Shot has a different property when it is enchanted, able to push enemies back when it is enchanted by the wind.  In addition to these, you will gain an ability called “Super Magic Shot” which you do by pushing Right Trigger and the A button simultanenously, consumes a lot of AP but is well worth it in damage.  After finishing off the three enemies they give you to test out your Super Magic Shot, they tell you that you have learned all you can about magic and it is time to learn about castle siege and defense in the 3rd tutorial.

#3 – The Introduction to Siege (Cleric Class)
The third section you play through is “The Introduction to Siege” with the marquee at the bottom (Now stationary) displaying a description of the selected option, “Learn the tactics of defense and conquest”.  Once you pick this option you will be greeted with someone that tells you that you will learn castle siege and defense, and for this you will pick the final class known as the “Cleric”.

Starting off, you learn that the Cleric has skills to support allies, just like a Mage, and he can guard with a shield, just like a Warrior.  Also, it gives you two injured allies and tell you to heal them, so this is undoubtedly going to be the equivalent of a Healer Class and a Support Class.  By pushing the A button and selected who you would like to heal (Your team mate, or yourself) you are able to do so while consuming AP, and it fully restores their health.

After you heal your teammates you are told to go onto the top of the castle to learn about tactical weaponry, and the first one you learn about is the ballista which is used to intercept invading enemies.  Weapon icons show where you can build weapons, and only the Clerics are the only ones who can do this.  Once you summon materials, you build them just like you would a tower with the weapon’s class.  Getting on the ballista you are able to shoot down at your enemies as they are bombarding the castle.

Next off, they tell you about the Team Skill of the Cleric which is Transport.  You are able to instantly teleport to a nearby tower, which is useful for those who have missed their checkpoint by mistake or need to assist their teammates in taking down the tower.  Shown next is their ability to make ladders in order to scale the wall to get inside instead of the brute force way used by the Warrior Class; or you can simply aid them by building a battering ram instead!

Once you finish this tutorial with the Cleric by destroying your opponent’s Big Tower, you will earn the Achievement titled “Nobody Calls me Noob” by successfully completing all tutorials.

Overall I think this was an excellent tutorial.  They did a good job outlining everything you will need to know in order to play this game at the very basic level, not only that, but they clearly outlined what every class was meant for.  Warrior class seems to be your hack-n’-slash front line type of player who storms the battlefield, your Mage class seems to be the long distant fighter who gives annoying additions to the warriors and aid them, the Clerics seem to be the power on the back row of the field as well as the medics.  But the one thing I love about this is that they all seem like they will take an equal amount of time/effort to win with.

From my years of playing games online in multiplayer I  already know that strategies, advanced techniques, and skill-level of players will be a big factor on how well you can do and it will take dedication and attention to the fine details in order to be successful repeatedly.  Well, I feel ready for war, so let me see what else awaits me!

Story Campaign

The Story Campaign is the Single Player Mode of this game which focuses upon the struggle between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Dark.  This mode starts off with a cinematic that explains how they have been at war since the very beginning of time and have always fought over the most stupid of things for the simple reason that they each Kingdom is not very smart.  A Soldier informs the Light King that the Dark King is on his way.  After the arrival of the Dark King he argues with the Light King over which animal is strongest, the elephant or the hippos and a war starts because of it….until the Dark King sees the Light Princess.  Swooning over the Light Princess he insists she must be his bride and takes her away, the King now desperately wants you to get her back!

With this you play preset missions where you must advanced and destroy the Big Tower of the Dark King’s army.  You must continue to march on to try and save the Light Princess before she is married off.  You will have to play online multiplayer to continually raise your level in order to progress in the Story Campaign, giving you incentive to player online in order to finish it.  Also, you gain bonuses for completing the Campaign story, giving you incentive to actually finish the whole campaign.

All-in-all, this is a very good concept and the art and the way people shake when angered make this comically good.  I have not gotten a chance to player the entire campaign because it involves a serious amount of playing in order to do so, but I liked the few missions I did play and think this is very solid entertainment.

Online Multiplayer

Happy Wars’ bread-n-butter revolves around its 15-vs-15 online multiplayer.  Believe me, it is fun and chaotic but at the very same time it can be altogether too brutal and challenging for those who do not possess the equipment to go toe-to-toe with people who have been “no-lifeing” this game, which only promotes you to play more and to join people who have a major motivation to win.  Already some of my friends have been picking and choosing which games they want to enter simply because they want people who will give them a higher amount of chance of actually winning and becoming the MVP of the game.

The 15-on-15 multiplayer action sounds just like it plays, absolutely insane!  You have people going everywhere, swords swinging on the battlefield, yells and screams of war, and even animation of wind, fire, and other assorted special skills going off all around you (Not to mention explosions).  You have warriors rushing in and going crazy with flying headbutts that detonate upon impact, you have clerics building weaponry that you have to seek out and destroy, and mages raining down electricity….it just has the feeling of warfare all around with the number of people and things going on at the same time.  Although, with this many people I have to stress again about the whole “Team Work” thing.  You have to pay attention to when people are activating their Team Skills in order to effectively turn the tides.  You have to guard people attempting to build towers to make sure you have reliable spawn points and a balanced amount of people on the field so you do not have all aggression with no one to heal them, or all mages and nothing to protect them once warriors close in.

Once you begin to become familiar with how the game works and how the stages are outlined, you are very easily able to what the key points on the level are, where and when to push, and if you are in fear of losing the game simply by the progression rate your opponents are making.  One thing is that it is definitely better to have a good team of people who can communicate or at least has devastatingly good stats.

One big gripe I do have about this game is basically the amount of power some people have as a result of playing.  If someone is way higher than you in level they seem to have acquired better strength, that or they can buy it with Happy Tickets (Which is something I really do not like).  But it reminds me of any other Free-to-Play game’s online by trying to get you addicted to the game because it is free then “Nickle-and-Dimeing” you by offering attractive items that are hard to gain except by tirelessly playing the game and waiting for “Bonus Time” where you have an increased chance of getting Happy Stars.  I feel like this game will amount to skill only after everyone has maxed out their current equipment, otherwise it will tip more towards power until the field levels out.

All-in-all this game is incredibly fun to play, but it can also be incredibly frustrating because of the amount of players that are involved.  If you have good teammates with decent items who know where to go without being told it is completely amazing and you get a real feeling of success.  If you are dealing with people who do not know what they are doing, are barely able to keep themselves alive, or prioritize on things that do not help the team overall you will continually fail because there is only so much that a single person can do in a 15-vs-15 player game.  Besides this however, it is nothing short of excellent and amazing.  You get the feeling of being within a real war with real strategies and real objectives to protect and secure.  Playing with your friends can produce an incredible feeling, especially when you are in a party and it makes up just over half of your total team and you strategize how to take down the other army and it WORKS.  My one grip and complain with the online experience however is the servers.  Connecting to a match can sometimes take a long time because of the amount of people coming and going but it does not take away from the fun.

Customization & Item Leveling

What’s one of the best things to implement into a game?  Customization.  By customizing your character you take more interest into what happens with them and it can extend the total amount of time you actually want to play the game (Which is why games like Soul Calibur V have earned my attention for so long, and why I sometimes feel lackluster about my character’s appearance in TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2).  I feel like Happy Wars gives you a decent amount of selection for the type of game that it is.

First off, you will be able to obtain items through a few different ways.  By going to “Play” and then selecting the option of “Spinner & Cards” or “Item Shop” you will be able to grab items in order to customize your character.  Spinner allows you to make a bet depending on the item you want to try and win on the Spinner Wheel (Known as the “Happy Spinner”) which starts off with 6 colors shown (Red for weapons, Gold for shields, Purple for armor, Green for helmets, Blue for accessories, and a Rainbow colored one.. I do not know if it is a random color to orient with a type of item or it is a premium item as I have not landed on one yet.  You place bets in 300 happy stars in order to fill the blank slots with the equipment type of your choosing in hopes of giving yourself better chances to get that item.  Happy Cards is another one, but this one requires Happy Tickets to play, which is currency for Happy Wars you buy with actual Microsoft Points and gives you better chances of acquiring premium items.

The Item Shop is where you can buy individual items or whole item sets with the use of Happy Tickets, which again, you have to buy with Microsoft Points.  These give you a better advantage head on and you do not have to play as much to get items to stand a chance.

You are able to customize the individual appearance of your character by choosing a variety of predetermined settings for that classes head, hair, facial expression, and skin color.  A lot more are able to be unlocked but you will have to buy them from the Item Shop.   You can further customize your character by what they are wearing as far as their armor.  As you get further the game you may like a certain weapon or a certain armor and want to keep it for the look but you would rather not give it up for a weapon that is stronger, then you will have no choice but to go through the process of increasing the power and stats of that specific weapon.  You will want to go to the “Dress Up & Power Up” option from the Play menu and then go to Item-Level Up.  You will sacrifice other items you do not want and a certain amount of Happy Stars in order to grow the power of an item you currently posses by giving it a fraction of the power of the other item; not to mention you can also change the properties of an item through the “Item Modification” option.

The Verdict

Happy Wars is a Free-2-Play game, and it is the first on Xbox.  While I love where they were going with this game I cannot help but think of the games I normally come across when playing on the PC, and that this is the model for which they based this game off of.  Think about how easily all of those Microsoft Points can add-up in the long-run to spending just as much, or even more than you would had they included all of the little extra things in the game (Such as the additional heads and a in-game reliable way to get premium items) and just slapped on an 800 or 1200 Microsoft Point price tag (As well as not given those who pay-to-play an extra incentive), but then the game as it is may not have been tempting for some gamers.

What Happy Wars does however, it does exceptionally well.  Fun factor with your friends to provide hours upon hours of entertainment, an incredible online experience of 15-vs-15 players, and comical combat that relies a lot on teamwork in order to reach success while still having a carefree atmosphere that main focus is fun and chaotic warfare.  Replay value by attempting to get items and leveling up your character all add to the longevity of the game.  You can very easily sink in many hours playing with friends and perfecting your technique in order to lay waste to the opposition.

My suggestion is that it is a very good game and it is Free-2-Play and I think everyone should at least try the game.  Moreover, even if you choose to spend some Happy Tickets on it, you will probably be done playing this game by the time you add up to the full-retail price, which is not a bad deal if you actually do think about it in the end; but if  you have friends who play regularly and you are obsessed with being the #1 Ranked person, you could very well spend well over a 1600 point card in customizations and Happy Tickets to increase your chances of getting premium items and further separating yourself from your opponents on the battlefield, but if you are having fun there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Thank you for reading my review for Happy Wars by Toylogic and Microsoft Studios. Arigatou & Sayonara!

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About The Author

RoK the Reaper
A serious gamer & hardcore otaku who loves anything gaming, anime, or manga! I hope to bring you the best content for these subjects I love in the form of news, reviews, interviews, and in-depth editorials! さよなら!

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4 Replies to “Happy Wars XBLA Review”

  1. I think that they should add new classes such as the Berserker (can hold 2 swords,axes,etc.) the Archer (shoot long ranged magical lightning, fire,ice arrows) and the sorcerer (who can use high leveled magic like mini-tornadoes, high-powered lightning, etc).

    Any one else think this is cool?

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