STAFF REVIEW of Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition, The (Xbox One)

Tuesday, January 23, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition, The Box art I remember watching The Simpsons growing up, and one of my favorite segments was the bits with Itchy and Scratchy, the ultraviolent cat and mouse that BArt and Lisa used to watch in their world. Then it basically happened outside of The Simpsons with Happy Tree Friends, an ultraviolent cartoon that was more meant for adults, but was quite hilarious if you had a certain sense of humor. While I didn’t watch it religiously, I’ve seen a handful of episodes here and there, as it became quite popular after its debut in 1999.

While there may have been a lull for quite some time with the Happy Tree Friends crew nowhere to be found, they have now returned in videogame form. Originally released back in December 2022, The Crackpet Show may not have had the Happy Tree Friends branding or name, but it certainly took inspiration from the cult cartoon, as it was hyper violent, but in a cute way. Well, it’s finally happened. The crossover event is finally here with The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friend Edition. That’s right, your favorites have returned and I can’t think of a more fitting game that suits their style, branding and violence better. Play as your favorites from Happy Tree Friends as you shoot and kill dozens of enemies, all for TV ratings!

Who wouldn’t watch a TV show where the characters are all trying to kill one another? That of course gets ratings, and that’s your goal on The Crackpet Show, to get likes, become famous, and survive. I guess that last part is the most important though. Welcome back a handful of the classic Happy Tree Friends ensemble, such as Giggles, Cuddles, Handy, Petunia, Toothy, Nutty, Flaky, Sniffles, Splendid, even Flippy, and my personal favorite, Lumpy as the announcer.

A rogue-like shoot-em-up at its core, you’ll be placed in arenas until all your enemies are dead before being allowed to progress to the next room. Every kill is over the top bloody, as expected with a Happy Tree Friends setting, though if for some reason you don’t care about the latest update that added this crossover, you can toggle it off and play the base game with the core Crackpet Show characters instead. With this latest crossover edition, not only did we get the slew of Happy Tree Friends characters to play as, but certain death animations for characters were added, which fans of the show will certainly recognize, as well as updated visuals and audio overall.

With up to 4 players locally, it’s up to you to use your guns and weapons to kill all the enemies, as that’s what the audience wants and how you’ll get your thumbs up likes, and if a few audience members gets caught in the crossfire, c’est la vie, they new the risk being an audience member. The bulk of your gameplay will probably takes place in the Campaign Mode, though there is an Endless Mode that unlocks once you complete Season One.

A season consists of six episodes, and each episode is broken into a handful of smaller levels, or arenas. Kill all the enemies in a level and you’ll get to choose the next stage you want to take on, some giving a weapon, perk, item or other bonuses, all randomized. Complete all the levels and make your way to the final arena and you’ll have to challenge yourself versus a difficult boss. Defeat said boss and the episode is complete and you can move onto the next which becomes a little tougher and longer, eventually adding harder versions of arenas and even mini bosses halfway through the episodes.

Before you begin each violent episode though, you won’t last long without a weapon, so you choose one of the four base classes to start out. Assault starts you out with a pretty standard Pew Gun and Anvil Drop item, whereas my favorite, Engineer begins with the Zap Gun and Turret. There’s also a Medic that uses a Lob-o-Gun and Bandages or the Tank that get a Shotgun. These are only the starting weapons, and each suits a different play style, so experiment with each, as you’re bound to find plenty more along your way through each episode.

The more likes you earn by killing enemies after each run, successful or not, you can then upgrade weapons, perks and items randomly chosen between two different ones. This is where the rogue-like elements come into play, as each run is randomly generated, though you will make slow and steady overall progress as each weapon, perk and item gets upgraded over time with your choices.

While most levels won’t give you much hassle until the later episodes, you’ll certainly die at the boss stages a few times. These large bosses have a hefty health pool, so you better hope you’ve been getting some awesome upgrades along the way in that run, as it all resets for each run. These bosses can practically fill the screen with bullets, so you’ll need to your use dodge quite often to avoid getting hit and losing your hearts. Lose all your hearts and it’s Game Over and you’ll need to start the episode from the beginning.

Certain stages will rewards you with a random weapon, item or perk along the way. The perks accumulate and stack, making for a pretty good safe choice, though if you’re not enjoying your weapon or item as much as expected, you’re sure to find something new along the way. The weapons are quite diverse, and since no two runs are the same, it doesn’t become stale. Of course this is where the randomness will either favor or play against you, as I’ve had some terrible runs due to weapons I didn’t enjoy, then next run I beat the episode in a single go because I got an awesome gun and some powerful perks.

After a few episodes you’ll also gain the ability to save your loadout for the next run should you choose. This means placing your current weapon in the fridge, so that when you die, or live, your next run has your upgraded weapon waiting for you from the beginning, giving a huge head start. Unfortunately this weapon holding only lasts for one run, and if you don’t choose to use it on the next run, it disappears until you save your loadout again at a specific level.

While I was disappointed there was no online co-op, there is at least 4 player local support. This of course ups the chaos in the levels, but surely to be more fun alongside friends and family. Even playing solo, I was having a good time, slowly making overall progress even when I died on the same boss a few times. Since my weapons slowly got upgraded, each run was slightly easier each time and I hoped I'd get lucky to find my favorites along the way to the Episode's boss.

An unexpected but completely fitting crossover, The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition looks, sounds and plays just as you’d expect something from the iconic violent cartoon. While it won’t be for everyone, I enjoyed my time each run trying to take out the difficult boss and complete the Episodes and Seasons. It’s been quite some time since I’ve thought about Happy Tree Friends, but it certainly put a smile on my face to see them once more as I blasted hundreds of enemies for some likes.

**The Crackpet Show: Happy Tree Friends Edition was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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