At first, Happy Happy Hoola Hoopy (HaHaHooHoo for short) looked inconspicuously. A cheerful low-res one button game with a minimalistic graphical design. But more lurks underneath the surface.
The gameplay is incredibly simple. The player controls the animate hula hoop by pressing the space bar to aim and releasing it to fling the object in chosen direction. In each of 45 levels the player's goal is to cheer up five creatures by hitting them with the hula hoop. If the hula hoop doesn't hit the next target before it's momentum is lost, the player has to retry the level. As you can imagine, the levels are short, but demanding.
Every now and then, the new mechanic is introduced. It's done in the very elegant fashion - first, the player is exposed to the new piece in isolated, safe enviroment. Once he gets to understand how the mechanic works, it's mixed and matched with previous mechanics. It's very worth noting, that during the whole game no mechanic turnt into a "use once" gimmick, every one of them was repeatedly present since it's first appearance. What i really adore is that the game knows it is all about the timing and embraces it. Every mechanic adds a layer of complexity to the player's decissions, and nothing more.
The player's character doesn't get any new powers or moves after the beginning of the game, the only thing that changes are mechanics and level design. It works here as well as in Super Meat Boy, which is a supreme example of how it's done.
The learning curve was very, very smooth, i was never remotely close to being lost, yet the game kept being interesting, which is quite an achievement. The levels were gradually getting harder, but in fair, challenging way. The level design was never unfair, but sometimes really dirty in it's expectations of what the player should be keeping in mind. I was but a cloud of living hatred by the end levels, and people say i'm unusually calm. Still, i really enjoyed it.
For the story, it seems to be merging Undetale's "it's hard to be good" message with Kirby's simple, naive and cheerful personality. The main character's only motive is to bring happiness to everyone. There was occasional "engrish" in the text, but it mostly added to the overal cuteness.
The game's strongest aspect may be it's audiovisuals. The music is simple, but really fitting the mood, the sounds are satisfying to hear, the camera work is really nice, but the visual feedback, oh my, IT'S GENIUS! Every time the hula hoop hits the target, there's this click and explosion of colorful stars, which is incredibly pleasing. Every bit of the world gives you feedback, fulfilling the senses.
The game was great, without any weak moments, and even the ending didn't disappoint. You should definitely try it!
Get it here, it's free!
Se ya all someday!