So, what's your neighborhood like? Is it filled with happy, friendly people who wear strange hats, ride tricycles, and spend their days wandering between the fruit stand and the sunglasses hut? Did you build most of the things on your street? Is your neighborhood in 2D? Well hey, even if it is, the casual simulation game Happy Street from Godzi Lab (creator of iBlast Moki 2) is an all-around wholesome and addictive experience. Set up a shop here, pick up an apple there, get a bird to poop on your friend's head. All in a day's play in your ever-expanding village of pseudo-commerce!
Happy Street follows a similar sort of set-up as games like Tiny Tower, We Rule or Pocket Planes. The premise is that you are in charge of a friendly little town, placing and moving shops, keeping them stocked, and gathering coins and flooz so you can expand your village and discover new environments. As long as everything is running smoothly you'll have a steady income and can continue to build new things. You'll meet a lot of different characters during your little journey and encounter a fair number of fun events, like the fiesta you can throw where everyone spends coins like they're going out of style.
In addition to the building and citizen management, Happy Street also throws some light item collection elements at you, giving it an almost Wandering Willows sort of feel. Pick up mushrooms, for example, and you can cook things with them. Find a chunk of the moon, an apple, or a pile of bird poop and, well, who knows what might happen. You also have to keep a casual eye out for any villagers who happen to be sad. If a gloomster steps in front of you, you can usually set things right by building or moving a few shops around. The villager management elements are minimal and actually quite enjoyable when they do arise (such as birthday presents!!!).
Analysis: Happy Street enters itself into a crowded market of casual mobile sims. Every developer with two programmers to lock in a room has their own version of these village building, coin collecting, thing upgrading games, so it isn't exactly shocking to see another one appear on the market. Happy Street, though, is a different kind of experience. The flat, horizontal nature is a comfortable setting for anyone who has spent time with video games. And the casual simulation elements are very loose and enjoyable, never frustrating or never a hassle, just pure joy.
Happy Street does come packed with a few features that may make some players roll their eyes. Fortunately, none of them are real issues that get in the way of enjoying the game. For starters, you're encouraged at every turn to share things with your real world friends via Facebook and Twitter. It's easy enough to ignore, but doing so rewards you with items and materials, which is often a big help. In-app purchases are also available, allowing you to spend real money in exchange for flooz, the little gems that help speed things up, expand your village, and so on. You'll be tempted to drop some cash here and there, and the available packages range from acceptably priced to outrageously what the heck. Still, you aren't forced to buy, it just makes things move along at a faster clip.
Casual, colorful and addictive, Happy Street is a rare village building game that almost completely eliminates the feeling of doing chores just to keep coins coming in. There are plenty of little surprises to find as well, making every moment you spend with the game an absolute treat!
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.