Happy Theme Park is both as fun and frustrating as a real day at an amusement park

A social game with a good theme, Happy Theme Park is, sad to say, like riding a roller coaster after eating a big meal. Sure you’ll have fun, but it might get a little messy.

Like all social games, Happy Theme Park is about building up something – in this case, your own theme park. You can customize everything from rides to food sales to landscaping and more. The more you add and upgrade your facilities the more people you can have, increasing park revenue and your park’s status.

Happy Theme Park

What sets Happy Theme Park is the ability to truly customize rides. You can upgrade them using one of two Super Upgrade Stores. Unlocking the first one is easy, but getting the second one is much tougher. Why two? You can only Super Upgrade one ride at a time, and some of these upgrades take quite a while – unless of course you want to spend or purchase some premium currency bucks.

The decent tutorial system points out all the things you can try. By achieving specific quests, you can earn gold and silver medals, which help unlock some real star attractions. You’ll also eventually be able to go to the Ride Labs, and try to combine different rides to unlock new, super rides. Of course, the rides you blend will have to be fully Super Upgraded.

Some of the rides allow you to personally run them. The longer you select (anywhere from three minutes to over half a day), the better the reward in terms of people attending your park, experience and regular coins. The more upgraded the ride, the more people you’ll be able to accommodate, and the more stuff you’ll earn.

When the park gets big enough, you’ll want to hire workers, mascots and others to help maintain the grounds and run rides for you. You’ll also have to worry about expanding your site and helping others.

As you can see, Happy Theme Park definitely presents you with lots to do. The game also presents some solid social elements, with seamless Facebook integration and the ability to travel to other people’s parks to visit, see what they’ve done and maybe pick up some trash.

Happy Theme Park

All of it is wrapped in a decent looking package. Lots of color, an inoffensive ditty playing in the background, and slightly expanded – if not a bit stiff – animation from the typical Tap Zoo style of game. It’s not great, but won’t bother anyone.

But what will bother you is the relentless spamming Happy Theme Park throws at you. From “Wow, you discovered a great app! Download it now!” to “Invite your friends right away!” to “Rate us 5 stars and we’ll give you currency!” over and over and over and over and over… It gets old. Fast. What’s worse, these prompts can layer themselves one on top of another when you first load up.

And though I’m not definite on this, I’m pretty certain that some of these tactics are against the new developer rules in the App Store. If not, then they certainly are in spirit. Happy Theme Park tries to help you game the system on its behalf, and it’s rather pathetic.

Other problems abound. Notifications are often far too late, or don’t happen at all. Once a Super Upgrade is completed, you should receive notice about it. However if you’ve already done it, the game will suddenly prompt you about 20 minutes later. Other times I totally forgot about an upgrade, but the game never notified me at all. It’s a bit hit and miss on this front.

Happy Theme Park

Speaking of hit and miss, the touch in Happy Theme Park is also faulty. In order to collect awards or pick up track, I was forced to zoom in quite far before the game accurately picked up my touch. It’s also a bit of a crapshoot whether touching a ride will bring up its menu or not. It works about 70% of the time, but that 30% sure is bothersome.

Most of all, Happy Theme Park just feels like a me-too kind of game. There’s a lot to do, and dedicated gamers will be able to play for a long time. But with so many other games out there, Happy Theme Park ends up being an above-average social game that needs more polish and less spam to bring it to the next level.