Thanks to NIS AMERICA for the review code
Title: Happy Birthdays
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 06/05/2018
In this enhanced port of the PS4 game Birthdays the Beginning, you take control of a fairy creature known as an avatar, who must set out in order to create a beautiful world filled with many organisms after discovering a cave to another world.
Happy Birthdays makes a great first impression by making use of a cartoony art style, with the organisms all looking adorable. Each world that you create is presented in an overhead perspective for your avatar to fly around and explore. The worlds are also square-shaped and they float in front of a starry background. (which serves as the background for the menus, too) The music is nice and calming too, fitting the laid back nature of the game.
The main goal of Happy Birthdays is to discover new organisms and recording them in your database. In a way, it’s just like 100%ing a bestiary in RPGs, and it can be just as fun. You have several different modes to choose from, with the main mode tasking you with maintaining a world in four different environments, from a grassy world, desert world, stone world, and a snow world. Once you pick a world, you’re off to adjust the land and temperature to make it habitable for organisms. You can raise the terrain by pressing the ZR button and lower it with the R button, and doing this is how you can influence the temperature of both the water and land, since if you lower too much you’ll eventually reach the watery part of the world.
Overall, the game will constantly ask you to focus on producing a specific creature, which requires a set temperature and may require other organisms to be available for it to interact with, and this is where the game can get really tricky. Balancing the amount of water while keeping the temperatures in check is key to completing a successful evolution, and the game will task you with completing goal after goal to make new organisms. Once a new organism pops up in your world, you can send your avatar to it to record their info in your library, before popping out and letting time pass. The passage of time is really easy to do, but it also requires your avatar to have enough HP to do so, since the more you speed up time, the more HP you expend as a result. Thankfully, gaining HP back is really simple and goofing around in the world is a way to recover slowly.
Besides the main mode, there are two other modes that you can take on and use your godly skills to birth life. The mode I had the most fun with was the challenge mode, which simply assigns you a simple task of birthing one organism in a pre-made world. The trick to this mode is to find a way to take the pre-made environment and follow the directions to make it habitable for the required organisms. This starts out with a very basic task of creating an Eoraptor before it gets really tricky with multiple evolutionary lines to work with while the preset worlds get trickier and trickier.
Besides that, there’s a free mode where you can import your progress from the main mode in order to goof off and add more creatures to your database while also going after the monuments. These monuments act as the in-game achievements for Happy Birthdays, and they’re done by either creating certain organisms, manipulating the environment in certain ways, or clearing challenges. As a pretty awesome easter egg, Kunio and his rival from the Kunio series make a cameo as one of the achievements, thanks to Arc System Works publishing this in Japan.
In conclusion, Happy Birthdays is a fun, relaxing experience that will satisfy the urge to record them all, although the biggest problem with this game by far comes from the complexity. Don’t be fooled by the cuteness, this is an incredibly complex game that can take a while to get the grasp of. The first challenge alone took a good hour for me to finally clear, and the main game seems to have no clear end in sight with all the organisms and monuments to go after. There’s certainly a lot of content to be found here for those who want to enjoy the game, but the difficulty curve is by far the biggest hurdle, and part of me wishes the game was a lot more easy to get into and just relax without having to manage so much first. Still, once you do get over that difficulty curve, Happy Birthdays can be quite fun, so this is a god sim worth taking a look at if those are your thing.
I give Happy Birthdays a 6 out of 10.