Going by the product description for Happy Street alone it does sound like a blatant clone of Nintendoâ€™s Animal Crossing. The idea behind it is identical, at least â€“ to create a community for overwhelmingly cute animals to inhabit. They even talk in similar garbled tones.
When playing it though it doesnâ€™t take much more than a couple of minutes to realise that itâ€™s a very different game from the Nintendo classic. Itâ€™s in 2D, for starters, and thereâ€™s a bigger emphasis on making money. There are shops and casino-like buildings with playable mini-games, and every now and then itâ€™s possible to send your citizens into a spending frenzy where theyâ€™ll purchase everything in sight.
We aren’t denying that there’s an influence here, but it’s only akin to how Mario Kart has influenced every kart racer to ever be released.
Presentation is anything but lazy. The buildings and their surroundings are lovingly drawn while the dialogue is witty with a few little cheeky jokes thrown in here and there. We quickly cottoned onto the fact thereâ€™s a rather odd obsession with poo. During the tutorial youâ€™re asked to remove all trees â€“ which act as a collectable resource â€“ so that people can slip around on poo without hurting themselves. Thereâ€™s also a bird that flies along the top of the screen that can be tapped on in order to empty its bottom all over your fellow animal chums. Hilariously, theyâ€™ll slip and slide on any plops that missed their target. Weâ€™re not ashamed to admit to laughing out loud at this.
What makes this a surprisingly addictive game is that thereâ€™s always something to do. Shops need to be restocked, wood chopped, buildings upgraded, fruit picked and a steady slew of new visitors can be gained by requesting buses to stop. The townsfolk occasionally need help looking for something (or someone) too, plus the main characters ZoÃ« and Pepin usually have a quest or two for you to be getting on with. You can also connect to other towns all over the globe where you’re allowed to choose three different actions to perform.
Being a free download there are a few micro-transactions in place, but these thankfully arenâ€™t constantly drawn to your attention. Itâ€™s also possible to gain extra currency â€“ known as Flooz â€“ by liking certain companies on Facebook and such. To us thatâ€™s a much more pleasant way then having to spend actual money on virtual currency.
Try it â€“ you might find that it makes the wait for Animal Crossing on 3DS that little bit more bearable.
Version: iPhone (also available on Android)
iTunes App Store: free