Happy Hospital is one of the genre mash-up games that fascinate a lot of Facebook developers (and gamers) at the moment. Happy Hospital combines the durable virtual pets genre with the less successful (but promising) hospital management sub-genre. The result is a game where you play veterinarian to an assortment of cuddly, colorful animal friends who suffer from purely humorous disorders. Happy Hospital plays like a classic casual game, striving to relax rather than excite its players.
The gameplay in Happy Hospital is solid, if unremarkable. It's basically a game of managing timers, as each patient requires a certain amount of time to cure. You need to send patients to the right type of doctor's room and you need to collect batteries to operate your equipment. You get so much “booster” to spend on shortening timers once a patient's therapy begins. One point of booster cuts an hour off of a timer period and finishes a treatment instantly if the patient has less than an hour left. You regenerate booster at a rate that slowly takes longer, per point, as you level up. There are signs that you may be able to spend real money to get booster instantly in the future, but the feature isn't implemented yet.
Eventually you'll get to install a fountain of youth in your hospital, which means elderly pets can come to you to be rejuvenated. To rejuvenate a pet, you need to collect crystals to power the fountain. While the game invites you to buy gems or ask friends to send them to you, you don't actually seem to be able to do either of these things as of this writing. Instead, you need to get gems from flowers or by curing particular patients (the Yeti, for instance, tends to drop ice gems). More challenges appear as you level up, like needing to keep your hired doctors await and alert by fetching them coffee from your kitchen.
The game guides you through the early levels by giving you specific missions to follow. Completing missions grants you negligible amounts of money to spend on hospital decorations and substantial amounts of extra XP. Leveling up more quickly makes the game more fun, since it's more complex to play at higher levels, and lets you rapidly refill your booster gauge. Unlocking more types of patients lets you enjoy more of the game's high-quality animations, which give each type of animal patient a particularly silly-looking problem.
There's a very solid gameplay foundation in Happy Hospital, though it's hard to say how it will feel once all features are implemented and it's possible to spend money on it. Right now some tasks, like using the Fountain, are a little frustrating due to the inability to pay for things or ask for things. It also feels strange that regenerating booster actually grows more difficult as you level up, even though everything else about the game implies you're growing more skilled as a wacky veterinarian. Happy Hospital is still worth a look now if you're curious, though.
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