Double Fine Happy Action Theater Verdict: Guilty... Of Being Awesome!

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Posted February 3, 2012 - By Stephen Johnson

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Happy Action Theater Release Date Announced

Like Froot Loops cereal and Bugs Bunny cartoons, Kinect-powered toy Double Fine Happy Action Theater will appeal most strongly to two kinds of people: Five year olds and stoners. Those are my two favorite kinds of people, so the verdict on this one is clear: It’s Guilty… Guilty of being awesome.

Happy Action Theater is a downloadable collection of 18 tech-assisted experiences and games that turn your TV and Xbox-Kinect into a showcase for doing ridiculous things with augmented reality. For instance, one section of the game sees glowing lava filling your room. You see yourself onscreen interacting with the magma, rolling around in it, and shooting fireballs from your hands. In real life, this results in tragic cases of death-by-volcano, but here it’s fun.

It’s easier to watch it in action than describe it, so enjoy the video below, where some of G4's cubicle ferrets reenact classic movie scenes.

Double Fine Happy Action Theater "Movie Reenactments" Video »

One the most memorable demoes find you trapped in a jiggling Jello mold, making it wiggle and wobble around. Or maybe you prefer a game where a bunch of animated birds fly around your head, land on your limbs and eat fake birdseed you scatter about? Maybe you imagine a world of rainbows and flowers? How about a dance party where your virtual image breaks it down in a disco full of cartoon characters? Maybe you’d rather duplicate yourself photographically and finally give yourself that high-five and reach-around you deserve?

The game tracks up to six stoned college kids and/or toddlers at a time, so it’s more of a silly social thing than a one-guy activity. There’s no point to any of this, of course. There’s no right way to do it, no end goal, other than acting stupid and having fun, so your appreciation for the game will really depend on how big a stick you have wedged up your butt. If you’re a little kid, or you like doing doofy sh*t with your friends, this is for you. If you’re a “serious” gamer, you’re likely to take a look, snort derisively, and go play Star Craft 2 or something. 

Happy Action Theater Hands-On Preview »

It’s very lightweight, and likely won’t hold anyone’s attention for very long, but it’s not too expensive, and it’s a nice little novelty, so give it a break, whydon’tcha?

The details and presentation are Double Fine excellent, just as we have come to expect from them, although there seems to be one option that is absent: It would have been cool if there was a full integration of the 360’s music player. While many of the experiences feature their own music, the ability to leave an activity playing while having a party or a bake-off or something would be pretty cool. You can leave your music playing from the dashboard, of course, but it would be nice if it featured built in controls for the tunes. That's a small bitch about an otherwise fun toy, though. Overall: It's really fun.

Double Fine Happy Action Theater Verdict: Guilty... Of Being Awesome!


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