Happy Action Theater review

  • The variety in activities
  • Director mode
  • How much your kids will love it
  • It’s short
  • When sections of your head are missing
  • Some cut-and-paste activities

Double Fine is at it again, bringing another kid-friendly Kinect title  to the younger generation of gamers. Happy Action Theater makes a playground out of your living room for up to six  players, letting them melt like the Terminator in hot lava or join a dance party with some of Double Fine’s beloved characters.

It’s difficult to say that Happy Action Theater is an actual “game.” Well, at least not in the way we traditionally think of a game. There is no way to fail, no extra lives, and no goal besides just having fun. It’s like a funhouse mirror where all the enjoyment comes from seeing yourself altered and transformed. All that is required of you is to interact with whatever is on screen as you see fit.

The game is split up into 18 different activities that change a room’s environment similar to how the PlayStation’s  EyeToy games work. Most of the activities show an image of the player and the room they are standing in as seen by the Kinect, then  add interactive elements. A few of our favorite examples: plants grow around the room when you toss seeds, snow collects on your couch, and bouncing rubber balls fill the room, ready to be kicked around or smashed. Other activities do things like place your image on a platform in space where you can shoot fireballs and magic spells at chubby flying demons, or control a round of a Galaga-style game with your body. There is a good diversity between the activities and discovering how you can interact with them is where Happy Action Theater shines.

Some of the minigames, however, work better than others. The cloning machine which makes copies of the player’s poses, for instance, often displayed  missing sections of our body. A few activities even feel like they are copies of others, only with a different background… though thatwould do little to dissuade a child from enjoying each one.

The activities and the way you interact with the Kinect are very simple. Kick towards a miniature building and it collapses with ease, or fling an arm toward the screen and snowballs fly and smash against the glass. Typically, there are only a few ways to interact with the environment in each activity, so sticking to one for too long may get boring.

Luckily, the game also includes a Director mode which automatically changes activities every few minutes - absolutely no menu input is required once it is on. This option makes the game perfect to have on in the background of a birthday party or get-together where a bunch of kids would be running around. It simply gets rid of the complicated interface and lets kids just have fun playing the game.

Happy Action Theater is a great game for children with plenty of variety in almost every activity – each being different and exciting both visually and interactively. Although the entirety of the game can literally be seen in an hour or two, young gamers are sure to want to revisit their favorite version of their transformed room again and again, and at 800 Microsoft Points ($10), it’s well worth it.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Family
Published by: Double Fine
Developed by: Double Fine


  • Darkhawk - February 2, 2012 11:21 a.m.

    Think of it this way: If you own Kinect, this is $10 for hours of fun, without the hassle or expense of going out to a movie. If you have kids, a no brainer!
  • RipgutReaper - February 1, 2012 11:22 p.m.

    Who decides what games you guys review? There are some titles I expect you guys to review that you don't, Neverdead for example... and then you come out with reviews like this. Nobody wants this, well I can't say that for sure, but I'm pretty sure most of the readers at GR are more likely to read a review of a seemingly interesting Konami game rather than what I would consider an app for Kinect.
  • veryweirdguy - February 2, 2012 3:08 a.m.

    I'm a big fan of Double Fine, and am glad they reviewed this.
  • RipgutReaper - February 2, 2012 3:51 a.m.

    You gonna buy it?
  • GR_SophiaTong - February 2, 2012 10:46 a.m.

    Neverdead review is coming. It's not that we aren't reviewing it. And since when do you represent all of GR?
  • RipgutReaper - February 2, 2012 1:41 p.m.

    I'm not saying I represent all of GR. I've been visiting this site for a while and articles like this seem to get the least amount of attention, from comments anyways.
  • smcgarvey - February 2, 2012 10:52 a.m.

    There's extenuating circumstances surrounding the Neverdead review (not my territory), but it should be up soon. That said, I've played both to some extent, and honestly, a half-hour of throwing fake fireballs in Happy Action Theatre > a half-hour of Neverdead, which feels like recovering in a burn ward.
  • RipgutReaper - February 2, 2012 1:44 p.m.

    I have heard Neverdead is really bad, I think it got a 3 out of 10 on some other site. I just want to hear it from GR, you guys have a way with words.
  • lilbuddha - February 1, 2012 7:10 p.m.

    The image before the jump... wtf. Burning children ? I like it.
  • Headstandz - February 1, 2012 6:06 p.m.

    I'm tempted to get this. But sorry Batman is coming out.
  • Kieran712 - February 1, 2012 5:59 p.m.

    And here are the down parts of games journalism... =( But considering what it is it was a very good review, a lot of sites would just be like 'Bleugh! Kids Games!?' and give it a 3 whereas this review thought of how good it is for what its supposed to be =)
  • IChooseUAntistaMON - February 1, 2012 5:18 p.m.

    I thought this was going to be a 3

Showing 1-12 of 12 comments

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