Double Fine Happy Action Theatre review — The party non-game

Double Fine Happy Action Theater Screen

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I want to call Double Fine Happy Action Theater the best new party game in years. I only hesitate to do that because you can’t accurately call this a “game.”

Double Fine Happy Action Theater (or DFHAT for short) arose mostly by accident. While they were developing the Sesame Street game Once Upon A Monster, Double Fine came across a lot of random, fun uses for the Kinect that they couldn’t fit into the game. The overflow of ideas became a collection of diversions, and ultimately formed their own game.

It’s important that I call these minigames diversions, because they’re not exactly something that will challenge you. There’s no way to lose, nor a way to win, nor a real goal of any kind. You might think of DFHAT as interactive entertainment in its purest, simplest form. It’s just fun for fun’s sake.

The diversions play one after another, rapid-fire, almost like a WarioWare game, so just as you start to figure out a diversion, the game switches to something else, keeping things interesting. Activities vary from a dance party with trippy special effects to a nostalgia-incuding game of “the floor is lava.” DFHAT is meant to be kid friendly, but that doesn’t mean that a group of adults, who may possibly have been drinking, can’t have a blast with it as well. One activity essentially uses the Kinect camera to “clone” players by overlaying still images of them on top of each other, allowing you to, for instance, do obscene gestures… to yourself. What happens in DFHAT is largely a reflection of who you have play it.

While it’s not going to soak up huge amounts of your free time, at ten dollars, DFHAT is perfect to put on, unannounced, at a party and see what your guests do with it. Anyone should be able to have a good time with this, provided that they aren’t too embarrassed when DFHAT makes them into a virtual breakdancer.

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