The Happy Wheels Mobile app is the official mobile version port of Happy Wheels for the iOS and upcoming Android operating systems. The iOS app was first shown at PAX East 2013. The iOS app's release date was first scheduled for the first summer of 2013, and development on the Android app will start immediately following the release of the iOS app. Unfortunately, the app was delayed several times, eventually being released on August 19, 2015. However, as of right now, the Android Version of Happy Wheels Mobile is in the works.
Jim and Jason originally planned the game to require payment in order to download: $1.99 within the first week after publication and $2.99 after that same week has passed. Instead, the game is free to download on the App Store with ads included. People can pay $1.99 to permanently remove ads.
A playable demo of the game was available at PAX East 2013. The demo contained only six levels and a limited number of playable characters: Wheelchair Guy, Segway Guy, Irresponsible Dad, Effective Shopper, Moped Couple, and Lawnmower Man.
Gameplay is mostly the same as the original game. The main difference is the controls. Because iOS devices and other devices use the touch-screen to navigate and don't have keyboards, the character is controlled via on-screen buttons. The game also will later support an iCade controller and Game Center.
The game runs at 60 frames per second, unlike the online version which runs at around 30 frames per second. A new addition exclusive to the app is the "slow motion" feature. This feature slows down time for a brief moment, and the frame rate will not drop when playing in slow motion.
Characters and levels
The game at launch includes only one available character, Business Guy (known as Segway Guy in the browser version) with 15 levels made specifically for him. You can play these levels without an Internet connection, unlike the browser version which is only available through Internet access. More characters will be added later on in future updates with their own selection of levels, as well as another selection of levels for the chapter that allows you to play as any character. There is currently only one level in the chapter where you can play as any character, but in order to play it, all of the levels for Business Guy must be completed. Currently, the playable characters are Wheelchair Guy, Business Guy, Irresponsible Dad, Effective Shopper and Moped Couple.
The level editor is a simplified version of its browser counterpart. Currently, many items and tools from the browser version are added, but some of them aren't in the app yet. There is, however, an iOS-exclusive item called the Slow Motion Panel. Levels can be saved locally on the device and shared via email or Airdrop. A public level browser similar to the browser version is planned to be added later on.
The iOS version will work with the following Apple products:
- iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6+, 6S, 6S+. (works on iPhone 4 as well, but there's a noticeable drop in framerate)
- iPod Touch 5th generation (like the iPhone 4, it will install on iPod Touch 4th, but will probably run slowly)
- iPad 2, 3, 4, Air, Air 2, Ipad Pro.
- iPad Mini 1, 2, 3, 4
In response to a tweet regarding controller support, Fancy Force responded with "I will add support for the iOS game controllers. It currently supports iCade's 8-Bitty controller (sadly out of stock now). However, in Version 1.0.1, Controller Support has officially been added in to the game. (Only works in Gameplay right now)"
An Android version has been confirmed, but very little information about it has been released. However, Jim and Jason have tested an Android port and said the results were promising and are planning on continuing the Android version. It is supposedly in the works.
Geek Insider Interview
Geek Insider has interviewed Jim and Jason here. In the interview, Jason explains converting flash to iOS as "It has been very difficult. Putting aside things like developing touch controls and the physical limitations of mobile devices, simultaneously converting and updating the code as well as converting the assets from Flash has been a big undertaking. And like all other projects, a million other unexpected issues have come up."
Jason also describes the success of the mobile app being "The mobile space looks rife with opportunity. However, there is a saturation of 2D racing games currently in the app store. Plus, the casual gaming community is becoming more and more used to using one finger to play games. That said, I think our game is unique enough to attract new fans in addition to those who migrate from the online game. In other words, I see it being very popular."
A question was also asked about his opinion about paid vs free app models, Jason replies "Consumables–items that can be bought and then used up–annoy me, specifically in-game currencies (be it coins, berries, donuts, etc.) which are required to achieve certain goals that can’t otherwise be done through game play. It obscures the actual cost of a game. It’s great for capitalism, but it often seems unfair. The freemium model doesn’t bother me when the cost to value ratio is very clear. And because of competition, many developers will over-deliver free content. To some extent, it balances out the effect of the money vampire apps."
The initial version of the Happy Wheels app received positive reviews according to the user reviews in the App Store. Despite the positive reception, some less positive reviews criticize the very limited content (i.e. being able to play as only one character with 15 levels available), the levels' difficulty being too high, some parts of the on-screen controller, and some bugs in the Level Editor.
The app is currently ranked #2 in the Top Free iPhone Games in the App Store and has had over 10,000,000 downloads.
- In the beta version, the positions of the on-screen controller's "lean" and "accelerate/decelerate" buttons corresponded less in terms of positioning. When the app was released, the aforementioned buttons are placed in the same y-coordinate: where the decelerate and lean forward buttons are.
- On the Main Menu screen, Segway Guy (Business Guy on IOS) is shown. This is the first time ever he is shown on a title screen on Happy Wheels!