Become the Creator of Your Own Slice of Land.
Minecraft was on to something big when it launched years ago, and its continued success and billion dollar value proves that. The most impressive aspect of Minecraft, though, is that it was developed by a single man. His vision of world exploring, survival, and crafting on such an enormous scale was truly impressive. There have been plenty of games that feature the same or similar gameplay (like Dragon Quest Builders or even aspects of Fortnite), and Happy Birthdays takes that idea to a new level.
After stumbling upon a mysterious cave and, of course, checking it out, you’re transported to an overhead view of a block of terrain. Already thriving with early life, you’re introduced to a hefty tutorial that explains your purpose along with the numerous amounts of options you have at your disposal. It’s a pretty intimidating way to thrust people into the game, but it is an effective tutorial. Still, I’m sure the length and amount of content may scare some away. The goal of your omnipotence is to modify your malleable world to create new environments and, therefore, new lifeforms to study.
In order to do so, you’ll have to ability to shift the elevation of terrain, enabling you to create mountains or oceans and effectively change climate and temperatures. All of these variables and variations can and will produce new lifeforms, so the level of experimentation and exploration seems endless. You can also zoom out of your slice of earth to speed up time, which allows the world to produce new creatures with more speed. You’ll need to revisit your world, however, to continue to improve upon your landscape and designs, as well as to capture one of each new species.
Visually, Happy Birthdays isn’t exactly stunning anyone. That said, it’s block-like world setup and cartoonish style fits perfectly here. I guess I was a little disappointed that many of the creatures were just slight variations of each other (which sometimes made it more difficult for me to spot some of the new ones), but when you created something special, it was a pretty cool realization. When you combine the possibilities of what you can do to your world and the number of creatures you could potentially create with those possibilities, the outcome is dizzying. Add to that the ability to change the type of terrain you’re manipulating, and the potential seems unlimited.
Likewise, sound in Happy Birthdays is ethereal and relaxing. Soft piano hymns roll off vinyl keys with soothing rhythms. You’d also hear some thrumming but soft electronica tunes, and much of what I heard sung with peaceful harmonies. It’s the type of music, I imagine, I’d like to listen to as a god (or, in this case, a godlike entity), as I’d assume a relaxed mind would be most conducive to world building. In any case, it’s a welcomed addition that adds a little extra to the experience.
As I reviewed Happy Birthdays on the Nintendo Switch, the first thing I noticed was how much more I enjoyed it in its portable form. Often, I’ll dock my Switch and play from my Sony 4k TV in order to maintain that console feeling, and I’ll take the Switch up to bed to play a bit before I fall asleep. In most cases, especially in RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the docked version is far superior. For Happy Birthdays and its constant view shifting, world changing, and overarching angles, I felt the portable version was the most comfortable for me. Fortunately, unlike many Switch games, there were no frame rate issues to be seen.
If world building and species creating games are your jam, Happy Birthdays will give you one of the most unique and extensive experiences to date. The options and opportunities feel limitless, as you’ll rarely find yourself without something to do. While many of the creatures look very similar with minor changes, those entirely new species make the whole game worth it. Once you start getting into the advanced stages of the game, your creations and possible routes become intriguing. If you can get past the endless tutorial, you’ll find a world with unlimited potential – and that’s pretty cool.