Game Reviews

Happy Vikings

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Happy Vikings

By and large, vikings are happy.

Why wouldn’t they be? You’d be happy, too, if you went around ‘liberating’ gold and sheep from unsuspecting villagers, all under the impression that if you do a good enough job, you’ll someday rest easy in Valhalla.

However, it would be ludicrous to judge a game negatively on the basis it encourages thievery. I mean, if we did that, we’d end up condemning every game made since Link first boldly walked into a stranger’s house and smashed everything up in a search for rupees.

So, let’s judge Happy Vikings - a match-three game about stealing people’s livestock and jewels as tidily as possible - with a somewhat forgiving mentality towards theft.

Stock characters

Strictly speaking, yes, Happy Vikings falls into the match-three category, though it does possess a strong platforming element. Happy Vikings places you in control of a bearded Viking character, who has to physically jump around sorting looted into matching piles. The booty falls from the sky in Tetris fashion (this is explained as having been ‘catapulted’ toward you) and it’s up to you to catch the various gold chests, sheep, fish stockpiles, and place or shift them into similar stacks. Occasionally, there are also runestones that must be sorted to spell out the name of a Norse God, like Odin or Thor, with a score bonus heading your way if you manage it. The vanilla Android release launched with 50 levels, with the developer adding a hundred more after release. This Xperia Play-optimised version includes all of these stages, and introduces 90 more through the new Egypt’s Land. In addition, Happy Vikings boasts a Valhalla Mode, which lets you play a sort of survival game to see if you can consistently stockpile things without becoming overwhelmed.

Don't befeweled

The touchscreen controls of the Android version were adequate for Happy Vikings, but the Xperia Play’s controls give you a much better handle on the main character. Double-jumps and lateral movements are made much easier by the D-pad and buttons, meaning you can react a lot quicker to that barrel of beer falling in the wrong place.

This doesn’t alter the fact, though, that it all feels a little too slow for a match-three game. Many of the new Egyptian levels simply repeat the same puzzle patterns of previous stages, too, with sheep substituted for mummies and chests of gold for giant rubies.

Overall, Happy Vikings is to be admired for attempting to mix things up by blending platforming with the match-three genre. It doesn’t, however, offer the same quick-fire instant gratification now expected in the matching puzzlers, meaning it could turn off some traditional match-three fans.

Happy Vikings

The Xperia Play’s controls improve the precision and speed that you can match up blocks, but Happy Vikings still manages to feel a little awkward compared to others in the match-three genre
Brendan Caldwell
Brendan Caldwell
Brendan is a boy. Specifically, a boy who plays games. More specifically, a nice boy who plays many games. He often feels he should be doing something else. That's when the siren call of an indie gem haunts him. Who shall win this battle of wills? Answer: not Brendan.