What Is Happy Wheels And Why Is It No. 1 On The App Store?
What haven't we had in a long time? A one-person mobile game that appears out of nowhere to dominate the iOS App Store. If you think of Flappy Bird, you're on the correct track. Happy Wheels, which debuted on iOS just a few weeks ago and has cheerfully defied the likes of The Walking Dead: Road to Survival and Lara Croft GO to sit atop both the iPhone and iPad charts as of this Labor Day – except that Happy Wheels isn't a new game at all.
It was created by Jim Bonacci in the pre-mobile gaming era (or at least when mobile was in its infancy) and is now five years old. He began working on his tongue-in-cheek ragdoll physics game in 2006, thus the Happy Wheels concept dates back nearly a decade.
In terms of what it's all about, the official description reads as follows:
Happy Wheels is a physics-based, side-scrolling obstacle course game that has received over a billion online plays and is now accessible for mobile devices. Assume the role of your ill-prepared racer, ignoring serious repercussions in your desperate bid for victory.
That's really selling the game short, because it's a hysterically entertaining game in which your unfortunate Business Guy dies in incredibly terrible ways over and over again. It's the kind of game that plays well on mobile in general, with simple yet tough gameplay that drives players to replay levels in an oddly addictive manner in order to find out how to complete them.
It's clearly not for youngsters, despite the title's implication, and its 12+ rating for...
Realistic Violence that is infrequent/mild
Frequent/intense profanity or crude humor is definitely warranted, as is frequent/intense cartoon or fantasy violence.
That said, Happy Wheels is up front about it all, and it appears to have made a near-perfect transfer to mobile. Bonacci expressed his surprise at the game's popularity on his website (the awesomely named Totaljerkface.com) and discussed some of the design decisions that went into the iOS version. The most significant is his inability to browse user-generated levels produced by other players, which he fears will result in Apple withdrawing the game from the App Store if people push things too far.
What isn't apparent is if Happy Wheels is making a profit. It now ranks outside of the top 500 games and 1000 overall apps on iOS, implying that it isn't enticing gamers to spend nearly as much as it is enticing them to download. Regardless, it's always exciting to watch new games take off, even if they aren't nearly as fresh as they appear. Right now, you can download it for free to see what all the fuss is about.