Haypi KingdomPrice: FREE     Score: 6/10    Category: Games

Haypi Kingdom is somewhat of an anomaly, and frankly, a game that took me a long time to figure out. The game bills itself as a “massively multiplayer online” game, and technically I suppose it is.

While you play Haypi Kingdom, you’ll constantly see chat dialog from other players running across the lower half of the screen. And, once you spend the time (and probably the real money) to build up your kingdom, you’ll interact with other players via battles. But while Haypi Kingdom involves resource-management and a bit of strategy, it has less in common with Command & Conquer or Civilization than it does with games like Farmville. And that, quite honestly, is a disappointment.

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Haypi Kingdom doesn’t do new player any favors. As you begin your “adventure”, you’re given a small kingdom and a handful of menus to sift through. The objective of the game only reveals itself after you spend a great deal of time finding your way around various lists, menus, and options. You’ll begin by completing basic “Tasks”, which involve upgrading various resources in your kingdom. Once you complete these tasks, you’re then able to send out squads to look for loot by hunting or attacking other kingdoms. From there, the game essentially amounts to “upgrade your kingdom, go find more loot.”

While this sort of resource-management, upgrade-chasing game certainly has its audience, there’s no question that Haypi Kingdom has its moments that feel designed solely to turn a profit. Players may eventually reach a point where winning battles against more advanced kingdoms will require more robust upgrades, and a number of upgrades can only be obtained via in-app purchase. And after a while the nickel-and-diming can add up to a significant amount of real money, leaving players with the options of pay to compete, or toil away at the lower levels forever.

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Pay-to-play is a fact of life with these sorts of games, but it’s also worth noting that Haypi Kingdom possesses an interface that is not exactly user friendly. Much of the blame lies with the small screen of the iPhone. Information is packed onto the screen, with menus and buttons crowding the play area while notifications and player chat dialog is pasted over the top, blocking the view of your kingdom. The problem is not alleviated on the iPad since the game is simply blown up to the larger size, rather than reconfigured for the bigger screen.

Bottom Line: There is some enjoyment to be had in Haypi Kingdom. Unfortunately, the game seems to fall into the trap of putting too much emphasis on microtransactions, which will turn off many gamers.

Haypi Kingdom is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.