Happy Action Theater preview Tim Schafer shows us his latest bizarre vision

Recently we were lucky enough to visit Double Fine’s offices to play Tim Schafer’s latest creation with none other than the man himself. We’re glad he was there to guide us too, because Happy Action Theater is different from any party game we’ve ever played.

Above: Tim Schafer understands the importance of psychedelic dance parties in child development

To say that Happy Action Theater is a collection of 18 party-friendly minigames for Kinect would be technically correct, but it doesn’t capture its true nature. There’s no winning or losing in Happy Action Theater – it’s more about just experimenting and interacting with your on-screen environment. Tim Schafer says that he wanted a game with no pass/fail state – something that kids would have fun just playing around with.

We started with some fairly straightforward activities, like popping a screen full of balloons, waving sparklers around, and playing the classic “hot lava” game where we could actually play around with the lava covering the floor and see our feet turning red on contact. Moving on, we vanquished flocks of pigeons in a park scene by clapping our hands to make them explode in a puff of feathers. Stepping up the carnage even further, we stomped around destroying buildings in a King Kong-esque black-and-white city, which then displayed photos of us wreaking havoc plastered onto the front page of old-timey newspapers.

Then things started to get a little weird. One game took a series of photos of the person on screen, superimposing each photo on top of the last to make a tableau of doppelgangers layered on top of each other. Tim Schafer showed us a few examples of how to make the best use of this, including making out with himself, giving himself high-fives, and locking arms to create a chain of Tim Schafers in joyous merriment. As the night wore on we even spied some other editors creating some rather naughty scenes together, so there’s definitely a lot of room for imagination here.

While it’s primarily geared toward kids, we can definitely see adults at parties getting into Happy Action Theater too – especially drunk ones (after all, aren’t kids just tiny drunk people?). We’re generally skeptical of party games and minigame compilations, but this one is so obviously unique that we’re eager to see more.

Oct 18, 2011

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