HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewThe Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition Review

The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition Review

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If you were born between, let’s say 1990 and 2003 and lived on the internet, there’s a good chance you know all about Mondo Media’s Happy Tree Friends. If you weren’t, well a long story short, they were a group of cute, cuddly animal friends who committed acts that made Itchy and Scratchy look like Tom and Jerry. As someone born in 1999, I knew all about these little critters, even when I probably shouldn’t have. This made my face light up all the more when I saw that they had finally made their return in a game called The Crackpet Show.

But what exactly is The Crackpet Show? Well, in short, it’s a roguelite game heavily inspired by the Happy Tree Friends that struck out on its own last year on Switch and PC. However, a licensing deal for its inspiration and an Xbox port later, and here we are. The only question is: is the game any good? Well, in some regards this game has all the makings of a ratings smash, in others this show may have needed a bit more focus testing.

the crackpet show happy tree friends edition review 1
Yep – mad!

All crummy TV puns aside, The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition is a little bit of a mixed bag. The game itself is a roguelite with some bullet hell elements. That is to say, it’s hard. Sometimes infuriatingly so. But some fiendishly clever weapon design and encounter layouts mean the game is rarely unfun. The combat is fast, smooth and varied. Builds, perks and items can mean the difference between a successful run and a failure. The dash mechanic is responsive and fun. Pretty much all you’d hope for in a game of this style is here.

However, more than any other enemy, boss or trap, the biggest threat in The Crackpet Show comes in the form of two dreaded Rs: repetition and randomization. To an extent, both of these are to be expected in a roguelite. In fact, they come with the territory. But The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition takes this to another level, and in a way, it puts the entire foundation of the game at risk.

The game is structured with a series of levels that players can choose from. You pick the path, taking into account the risks and rewards each level provides, and you forge onwards. The problem is, these paths are completely random, and sometimes an item you need, like, for instance, a weapon that isn’t a peashooter, is multiple levels in. Couple this with the high difficulty and good luck trying to take out waves of enemies and surviving. In fact, you have a better chance of winning a duel with a cocktail sword than taking on some of the late-game levels without a good weapon pronto.

Some stages mitigate this issue, allowing you to store weapons for future use, but this only works for one run and if you die before you can store again, you’re back to square one.

the crackpet show happy tree friends edition review 2
Roguelite = grind.

The randomization also rears its ugly head in upgrading weapons and perks. Unlike other roguelites like Hades or Prey: Mooncrash, you have a limited degree of control over what weapons and skills you upgrade. You are given a random choice of two perks/weapons. Pick one and invest your hard-earned skill points.

As for repetition, later levels or “episodes” as the game calls them, can feature a plethora of rooms. These rooms use one of a few layouts, often feature the same enemies (variety decreases as you progress) and can take as long as thirty minutes to complete. Die once (unless you have a specific, rare item), it’s back to the beginning for you. This wouldn’t be as notable if the levels or enemies were varied by chapter, but after a while, it can be a slog just starting another run. I spent seventeen hours playing The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition to completion, and I think I may have been happier with at least five of those shaved off.

Now, with all of this being said, there is something undeniably important that keeps Crackpet from collapsing under the weight of these issues, and that comes down to the joys of its gameplay loop. Dashing, shooting and moving about the stage feels immensely satisfying. As mentioned earlier, the guns are varied and fun. The items are even better, with a variety of unique ways to take out enemies and keep the pace moving. Upgrades made to the character through in-game “sponsorships” feel meaningful and can be re-specced at any time. With shorter episodes and a bit more control over builds, this game could become a truly special gem in the roguelite genre.

The aesthetics are also immensely charming. You can choose between a Happy Tree Friends theme and the original game. Other than the host and some of the character skins, it doesn’t make a big difference, but honestly, both worlds mesh together incredibly well. Hyper gory, funny and beautifully drawn, the game is a visual feast. The music is also frantic, fun and catchy. For all the times I heard the same tracks play, I never once got bored of listening to them. Best of all, the game does right by the Happy Tree Friends license with a variety of different characters to choose from, a brand new animated short made for the game, and even Lumpy replacing the in-game host.

the crackpet show happy tree friends edition review 3
Visually charming

Finally, to briefly touch upon performance and value, this is thankfully pretty polished. It runs well with no noticeable frame drops and controls great. However, as of writing, some achievements are broken (either didn’t unlock or unlocked under circumstances different from the instructions given) and screen tearing is rather prevalent. As for value, it comes in at not a bad price at all, although the game is a bit too padded for its own good.

Overall, The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition is a little bit of a mixed bag, but one that skews much further towards the positive side. It is padded, repetitive and overly randomized, but the strong core mechanics, charming aesthetics and smooth-as-butter gameplay loop make up for these shortfalls.

Most importantly, it does right by the Happy Tree Friends, and that deserves kudos.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Does right by the Happy Tree Friends
  • Charming aesthetics
  • Fun gameplay loop
Cons:
  • Padded and repetitive
  • Too randomized for its own good
  • Broken cheevos and torn screens
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Ravenage Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 27 September 2023 | £16.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Does right by the Happy Tree Friends</li> <li>Charming aesthetics</li> <li>Fun gameplay loop</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Padded and repetitive</li> <li>Too randomized for its own good</li> <li>Broken cheevos and torn screens</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Ravenage Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 27 September 2023 | £16.99</li> </ul>The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition Review
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