Social game developers have a strong tradition of closely imitating, er, flattering each others’ titles by using similar mechanics, themes, graphics, currency pricing and most everything else. Well, here’s a new game from Chinese developer Boyaa, called Happy Baby. While we have only recently discovered it, it’s hard to say that it is truly “new.” Anyone that’s been on Facebook a while is will aware of Playfish’s popular top title, Pet Society, and that’s what this game is: Pet Society in Chinese.
Pet games are still popular even though they’ve been around for a long time — indeed, pet games were big in Asia before they were elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, Happy Baby has gained more than 200,000 monthly active users so far. Not bad, although not nearly as much as the gains that big Facebook developers Zynga and CrowdStar have seen with their new pet games, PetVille and Happy Pets.
Happy Baby starts the player out with the creation of their own, animal-like avatar. With flat colors and simple shapes, it should be something familiar to Pet Society players, because, frankly, the avatar could fit right in with the Playfish title and few would be the wiser. The game’s simple 2D house has a familiar user interface, as well. As a matter of fact, the only “significant” difference was that the bottom menu bar was in color.
Okay, so it looks the same, but so how does it play? Well, it does a good job at teaching the ropes, using achievements and objectives to show the player how to feed, clean, and brush their pet. Then it shows them how to place furniture, interact with it, and leave your home. It is all very simple and intuitive, especially considering it’s all written in Chinese and we don’t speak Chinese. Then we went outside.
Lo and behold, it also looks like the Pet Society world. Even details were preserved, such as the shaking of trees for random coins, or the racing of other players at a stadium for money. Want to meet random people? Go to the coffee shop? Want to skip straight home? The game will teleport you right there. All features from Pet Society.
So, other than aforementioned interface colors, what is different? There are some extra mini-games in the stadium such as javelin throwing that make use of a sort of quick-time event coupled with timing to throw farther, and there is also a mall of sorts that has a row of shops you can walk past (though you cannot visit them at the movement). Other than these, the only noticeable differences were that there are less stores in town, total, and trash can pile up in your house over time and you get money for cleaning it up (similar to Restaurant City).
When broken down, Happy Baby isn’t a bad game, but, then again neither is Pet Society, so how could it be? It is, however, a blatant rip-off, and while we have seen a myriad of clones on Facebook before, Happy Baby might as well be a Chinese language version of Pet Society.