Happy Wheels is one of the rare games that can use simple mechanics without getting boring or repetitive. The game offers a map, basic steering and acceleration, and ragdoll physics, then tells players to go have fun with them. At its core, the game is a simple sidescroller, but getting through the map in one piece isn’t really the point.
The game Happy Wheels is really about comedy. If the game wasn’t funny, it’d be unexceptional at best, but the comedy makes it wonderful. The game isn’t about taking an expert driver from one end of the map to the other. It’s about taking an old man on a wheelchair or rich guy on a moped across across the landscape as they bounce around like idiots. It’s violent, but it’s so absurd that it’s hard to take the violence seriously. If you take a landing too fast or hit the ground at the wrong angle, the racer’s legs might come right off. In most games, that would be the end of the race. In Happy Wheels, it just means that you get finish the ride without any legs. It takes a lot to die, but it can happen from getting torn into a bunch of tiny pieces or falling off the map. It also happens a lot, so it’s a good thing that it looks hilariously ridiculous. This is a funny game, but it’s also pretty challenging.
That mix of difficulty and comedy is probably why Happy Wheels has built up a big community. It comes with a fairly powerful level editing tool and it can record game replays, so there are a lot of ways to interact with other players. The custom maps are easy to access, and there are a ton of them, so it’s almost impossible to run out of decent content to play through. The replays mean that it’s possible to find out how to go through a particularly hard map successfully, but they really exist so people can share their funniest failures with the rest of the Internet.