When Fancy Force's brutal physics-based trials game Happy Wheels (Free) debuted on the App Store last week, it grabbed the iOS world by storm and rapidly rose to the top of the free games ranking. Happy Wheels was first introduced as a Flash game in 2010, and it has expanded in leaps and bounds over the years. Happy Wheels has been a big hit in the realm of browser games, with a cast of ludicrous playable characters and vehicles, as well as a community-driven level generator with over 6 million user-created levels. Which makes me feel a little stupid for having never heard of it before it appeared on iOS last week. Hey, I'm elderly, and I have no idea what these wild kids are up to these days.
Anyway, if you were a big fan of Happy Wheels in the browser, you've probably noticed that the iOS version is severely deficient in material when compared to its older sibling. Don't worry, according to a post on the game's official website TotalJerkface.com by developer Jim Bonacci, the stripped-down version of Happy Wheels that was launched on iOS was completely deliberate. Bonacci purposefully submitted what he considered to be the safest version of the game merely to see how it was received in the App Store. As Bonacci puts it:
"As you may have seen, there is no browser available at the user level. In addition, for each of the 15 levels we supplied, there is only one character available. Because the most essential thing at the time was to get Happy Wheels accepted into the Apple App Store, the game was released this way. Of all the first characters, Segway Guy is arguably the most tame and easy to manipulate. The sight of an irresponsible father and his youngster exploding as they are crushed under a van was not the first thing I wanted the game's judges to see."
Aside from violence, Bonacci was concerned about the level editor and the likelihood that user-created levels would contain something that was against Apple's rules. Like, say, penises or something. It's not the first time a developer has expressed concern in this manner. Regardless, as games like Geometry Dash ($1.99) have demonstrated, user-generated content can be the lifeblood of a game's long-term success. That seems to be the case with Happy Wheels as well, so it's wonderful to hear that more content is on the way for the iOS edition.
Bonacci also recognizes that as the current top free game, a whole new audience is discovering Happy Wheels for the first time. "I know there are a lot of new casual players who have never seen the game before, and I'd like them all to know, as soon as possible, that there is a lot more that they haven't seen," he says on the subject. There will be a user level browser, and "featured" levels for additional characters will be released as soon as we have some good content." So there it is, direct from the horse's mouth. Big things are coming to Happy Wheels on iOS, so download it now and keep an eye on the Updates page in the App Store in the coming months.