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Happy Wheels: The Rise and Fall

jim bonacci kids these days and their violent video games

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#1 Offline sonicnerd23

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 12:46 PM

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Oh, how the glorious hath fallen.

Or, depending on if you even liked it in the first place, you could say it was born falling. One thing you can't deny, however, is that Happy Wheels is one hell of a gruesome game.

Happy Wheels, for those who aren't in the know, is an online flash game created by Jim Bonacci in 2010. The game uses ragdoll physics, vehicles, and over the top blood and gore to create what has to be the most sadistic and yet strangely addicting games ever. It is a massive game, allowing for the player to create an account (a free one, surprisingly) with which they can use to create their own levels. At their disposal is a polygon tool with which they can make their own shapes/objects, pre-made shapes, and pre-made objects which the level designers can diabollically use to make the player enter a fit of rage which ends up with his broken monitor in the trash and hoo boy, are there sure a lot of way to do that.

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Ah, yes, the missing 11th biblical plague: The plague of bottles

As of the time of this article's publication, there are 9 victims poor souls bags of meat playable characters from which to choose. The first three, an old man in a rocket-powered wheelchair (not as game breaking as you may think, more of a double-edged sword), a business man riding a segway (the prime choice for out-of-vehicle levels), and an irresponsible father riding a bike with his kid. As the game got more popular, Bonacci added in more characters, such as a fat lady on a scooter, a couple riding a moped, a black man riding a lawnmower capable of COMPLETELY GRINDING UP A HUMAN BODY TO NOTHING, an Indiana Jones-type guy riding a minecart, Santa, and a guy on a pogo stick voiced by famous Happy Wheels Let's Player UberHaxorNova. So, with this lovely cast of characters and a fuckton of obstacles to get in their way, this must make for a fun and varied game, right?

Well, that depends on where and when you look.

You see, with a game so immature in its over-the-top violence, it's bound to draw in quite a large, child crowd. "But sonicnerd, my good boy!" some of the more sophisticated reading this may say while lounging in their armchair and smoking a corncob pipe, "the old Romantic period thinkers always said that one is at his most imaginitive when he is a child! Surely this applies to here as well?"

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Suck it, Coleridge!

Throughout the game's history, as more and more special objects have been added, there are certain types of levels that have become stereotypical. One such stereotype is the rope swing level, a level in which the player (typically controlling the businessman) will eject from the vehicle, grab onto a nearby rope, and go from rope to rope until he reaches the end, typically having to avoid spikes positioned under him. Another is the dreaded arrow/harpoon run, wherein the player must go as fast as virtually possible to avoid arrows/harpoons fired by launchers that track your ever movement, and God help you if you so much as lean the wrong direction in one of these. One new stereotype coming into the picture with the introduction of bladed weapons is the sword throw, wherein the player ejects from his vehicle and grabs a blade behind him to throw at any of the ragdolls positioned in front of him. The neon level is another stereotype which can costitute any of the previous stereotypes, except "ZOMG ITZ IT HAZ COLURFULL OUTLINE!!!1!111!!!!!" Obviously, I've decided to leave the rest out for the decency of space, but you get the idea.

The game reeks with the scent of male child. If you play a map that ranks you on your performance, like an arrow/harpoon run, say, and do poorly in it, there will be a message built into the map telling you straight up that you blew chunks. Some may even compare you to Justin Bieber. Oh, and that's another thing: this game's fanbase has a habit of hating Justin Bieber. There are so many "kill jb" levels, they've become a sort of stereotype unto themselves. Not to say these kids don't envy Justin's sort of popularity. In fact, most of these maps will have a message telling you to rate their level 5 stars if you survived it, found a hidden exit, or even for looking at their random death of a ragdoll. Finally, this game is plagued with "1337speak", with words like n00b a common occurence.

Of course, search the game long enough (or just look in the featured section), and you're bound to come across a few gems. Some level designers have legitimately put time and effort into making maps where the only real threat to you is your speed and the landscape, which in a game populated by arrow and harpoon runs, is a breath of fresh air. People have also gone as far as to recreate movies and games as well, such as the Super Mario 64 map by FireNine09. In these cases, I love these levels because it's always fun to see these games and movies as interpreted by Happy Wheels' mechanics. It's finding levels like this that make sifting through pages of neon levels worth it.

As it is, Happy Wheels seems to have been doomed to go down a path like this. With its excessive blood-spillage and millions of possible ways to die, it was bound to turn into a hit with the kids, whose constant conformity to established stereotypes is clogging up the server with bland, already-seen-it levels. However, hats off to the creative members of the Happy Wheels community, who use what's at their disposal to create an enjoyable experience for the players of their levels. It's levels like these that will still be played a year or so from now when the game has been dragged into the abyss by the overabundance of stereotypes.

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Or, metaphorically speaking, dragged into a pit of spikes by a harpoon.

You can play Jim Bonacci's Happy Wheels here.

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#2 Offline AGSMA

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 01:59 PM

Great review.
It's kinda sad that one of my very few favorite Internet games had to be filled up by some of the most uncreative and annoying fanbases I've ever seen. I occasionally play it just to see the updates and to remind me how much fun I had with this game back in 2010.


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#3 Offline 2nnt

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 05:03 PM

What AGSMA said. Except the part about 2010 because I didn't know this game back then.



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#4 Online RedLuigi

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 05:25 PM

I feel bad for Jim, he has such a great game that's only ever played by the worst kinds of people. I bet if he suddenly removed the gore and dismemberment that fanbase would suddenly disappear.
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#5 Offline EmmBee

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 05:58 AM

I haven't played it much in a while, aside from a few minutes last week. Has it really gotten unplayably bad?


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#6 Offline Jayblin

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 06:26 PM

I'll admit that the game itself is actually pretty decent, and I agree whole-heartedly with you saying that the fanbase for the game is absolute shit. My little brother was watching some Happy Wheels LP's on YouTube a while back, and I can definitely say that if this horrible, horrible person is one of the most popular LP'ers of the game, then there just might be no hope of this game ever being redeemed.

I think I can safely say that I have found someone on YouTube even more intellectually-offensive than RWJ.

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#7 Offline Torstein

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 04:17 AM

His videos are literally unwatchable, all he does is randomly scream and he's not funny in the slightest. It's the same shit every episode, I really can't see how people enjoy them.
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#8 Offline TrueTubePoops

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 05:56 AM

His Facade videos are OK and he has some unintentional "so stupid its funny" scenes in some of his horror game LPs. Other than that he falls under the partner plague that makes them feel the need to promote themselves at the beginning and end of every video and make annotations that say "LIKE FOR X" or "FAVORITE FOR Y." Not sure how he got that popular anyway.


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