Game Info:

Happiness Drops!
Developed By: ARES Inc.
Published By: ARES Inc.
Release Date: December 26, 2017
Available On: Windows
ESRB Rating: N/A
Genre: Puzzle
Mode: 1-2 Players
MSRP: $4.99

Thank you ARES Inc. for sending us this game to review!

Happiness! is a visual novel (that has not yet been converted to English) and an anime series. Happiness Drops! is a spinoff puzzle game which is basically a very cute match-three game, with some magical anime girls from the Happiness! universe. They also talk to each other in visual novel-like segments before and after battles.

The game itself plays remarkably similar to Puyo Puyo, except that this one requires only three rather than four gems to match, which then causes them to disappear. There are only four color gems: blue diamonds, pink hearts, yellow squares, and green sphere creatures. If you make combos, you can drop gray blocks on your opponent, which they also do to you. You can remove them by clearing adjacent gems.

There are five difficulty levels, which are very easy, easy, normal, hard, and very hard. I found the first two fairly manageable; you need to make combos to win, but the computer makes enough mistakes where a reasonable player should win most of the time. Hard and very hard are quite challenging, but if you make combos at the right time you have a decent chance, since the computer AI will take risks setting up large combos (which can then wipe you out fast, so be careful!).

Happiness Drops!

Strong Points: Fun puzzle game with a nice presentation; cute characters
Weak Points: English translation that is so bad it's hilarious
Moral Warnings: Girls with visible cleavage; girls shown wearing bikinis are rewards for some achievements; 'h*ll' and 'd*mn' used once; magic use mentioned

I originally started this game on normal, since I tend to be halfway decent (but not great) at puzzle games. This is absolutely a misnomer, and this becomes a massive endurance race as the computer tends to be very conservative with stacking, and will try to avoid dangerous situations, doing their best to keep the stacks low. This means that even with the best of combos, they can survive your combos unless you are a master that manages more than five or six at a time.

I ended up playing that round of normal for about four hours in one game – with the final single match taking over two and a half hours. My score was incredible, but no matter what I did, I just could not get that AI to die. I would get the stacks up high, and they would use their special skill, which helps clear the blocks, at just the right time. Since I was decently skilled, I would also use my special skill as the blocks neared the top, and I was able to get myself out of these dangerous situations.

This went on for hours, until finally, my hands and arms started to fall asleep holding the controller (I use an Xbox One controller for most games). I have gamed for many, many years, and I have never had this happen to me before. It was incredibly painful, and I paused, flexed my hands and arms, and gave it some more time. After it approached 11pm and I had to work in the morning, I finally gave up and intentionally lost to the AI. It was frustrating, but I had to - I'd played the game from around 6:30pm until around 11pm, in one sitting - and with no save feature, there was nothing I could do. It was at this point that I dubbed the game:

Sisyphean Drops!

Now, the next day, I played it again on very easy, and came to enjoy it quite a bit. The art and graphics are very well polished, the music is saccharine cute and catchy, and the game itself is fun once you get the hang of it. Just do not, under any circumstances, start playing right away on normal. You will regret it.

Happiness Drops!
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability/Polish - 2/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 88%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

In addition to the story mode, there are also endless and versus modes. Story is the main one, where you play against each of the other girls in succession, until you are the winner. There are silly visual novel sequences in between each match, and afterwards. The English translation is so terrible that it is incredibly difficult to know what they are trying to say. It seems like a machine translation, but even that doesn't explain the use of some words that have not existed in our language for hundreds of years, like 'willn't'. Sometimes it's so bad it's good - in a funny, mocking kind of way. Other times it's just bad. There is rarely a sentence without some grammatical error. Despite that, it's still fun to play.

Endless mode is more or less what it sounds like - you challenge girls over and over as the difficulty keeps rising, until you are defeated. There are global online leaderboards, both for this and story mode, so there is plenty of impetus to keep trying. Versus mode is where you can play against a local friend or family member who is sitting nearby - there is no online play, but local mode works pretty well. I enjoyed repeatedly beating my son over and over, until he finally beat me - and he was far more excited than I expected winning in a game with a bunch of anime girls.

For the most part, the game is fairly family friendly, and kid safe. But there are some odd exceptions. For one, on one of the character's routes, a girl says 'd*mn' and 'h*ll'. Other than that, the game is filled with silly, somewhat intelligible chitter-chatter. One girl always wears a witch outfit with ample visible cleavage, and some of the achievements unlock pictures in a gallery that include bikini shots. While the Happiness! visual novel and anime features a cross dressing gay boy, that character is missing entirely from Happiness Drops! Magic use is mentioned, but not shown.

Happiness Drops! is an incredibly cute match-three puzzle game, that is certainly worth the low asking price. The translation is laughably bad, but of the five playable characters, only one is immodestly dressed (except for in the achievements gallery, where others wear bikinis). If you know your moes from your lolis, aren't embarrassed by that fact, and like simple puzzle games, then you will likely enjoy Happiness Drops!

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Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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