Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS
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UPDATE: First released in September, Happy Hills was a cute but addictive physics based puzzle game. Free to download at the time with more level packs available via in-app purchases, it was a cut above the rest in terms of the already cluttered genre.
Now up to version 1.2, Happy Hills is similarly enjoyable and with even more to play. Included in this update is the addition of the Arctic region level pack that adds 48 new levels to the already plentiful supply of levels.
The main change within these levels is the ability to freeze blocks. This in turn changes how the blocks slide, float and even their constitution. They can be destroyed, for instance. Previously frozen blocks can be thawed thanks to fire or red-hot blocks. All these elements add a much needed extra level of depth in Happy Hills and make a good game even better.
Along with such huge changes comes a price change with Happy Hills now priced at $1.99 with the arctic and desert regions available for $1.99 each. Due to the update, these are on sale at $0.99 making it the ideal time to play. Fans of the genre won't be disappointed!
Happy Hills is a freemium game that is free to purchase and includes two free level packs. More level packs can be purchased via in-app purchase for $0.99 each.
Happy Hills turns out to be more than the run of the mill physics puzzler. The game has some well designed levels and thoughtful mechanics that make clearing the levels challenging without being overly frustrating. The game's physics are equally well done. They are predictable and consistent; an important characteristic of any physics based game.
As with many puzzle games, there isn't much of a plot or story to compel the player to progress from level to level. The game's challenges and its bite-sized levels do a superb job at quickly getting players into that "just one more level" zone. The touch controls are easy to use and there is only the rare occasion where a slip of the finger may cause a mistake. Even though, the levels are short and reload quickly so starting a level over isn't much of a pain.
In Happy Hills every level is populated with one or more hills. Now these, aren't normal hills by any means. These hill have faces and they can move up and down. However, the poor hills are being weighed down by boxes made out of stone, metal, and wood which the player must remove from the hilltops using strategically placed bomb blasts, thus allowing the hills to rise and fall as they please.
Bombs are placed by a touch of the finger and they explode upon release. With each explosion, the boxes react in accordance to the game's physics. Using the bombs players must send the boxes flying from the hilltops. In each level there are a limited number of bombs available and the player must clear all the boxes from all of the hilltops to complete the levels. For an added degree of difficulty, players can destroy the boxes, earning a star for each destroyed box. This is accomplished by making them fall into bottomless pits, lighting them on fire, or drowning them. At the end of the level stars are awarded for each destroyed box. Destroying the boxes is not required to finish a level so it adds a fun little twist to make the game more challenging without holding up progression.
Happy Hills is a great game and it shines in so many ways. Players will have a great time with this title and they have plenty of levels to play for free while they evaluate whether or not they'd like to purchase additional levels. The hills, boxes, and environments are very well animated and they bring a sugary charm and polish to the game that players will appreciate. Happy Hills is sure to create a lot of happy faces out there.