Review Happy Birthdays on Switch

Game: Happy Birthdays
System:  Nintendo Switch
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: TOYBOX Inc.
Price: € 39,99 (Eu) , £39.99 (UK), $39.99 (USA)

(Review copy provided by NIS America)

Sometimes the most unlikely game can really get my blood pumping. And even when you realize not everyone feels the same way about that game, you still really enjoy playing it. Happy Birthdays is such a game.

It was previously released under the name Birthdays the Beginning on PS4 and Steam, and now it’s here for the Switch with a new name and some added features. It’s already out in Japan, and it’ll come to North America on 5th June and 8th June for Europe.

I know reviews of the earlier versions of the game aren’t all exactly raving, but hear me out. And although the Switch versions adds some features that weren’t in the PS4 version, I guess the thing with this game is that you either love it or don’t.

Let’s see what it’s about

You start out with one of four “cubes” called Stone Plains, Greenlands, Fiery Earth and Frozen Grounds. The demo that’s in the eShop right now lets you play either until reaching 1.5 million years of in-game time or until primitive man is born. The save data from the demo can be imported into the full game when it launches. 

Switch Happy Birthdays

Don’t be stubborn: follow the guide

The majority of people will loathe following the manual in any situation. But let me tell you: you need to closely follow all the game is teaching you from the beginning. Don’t be tempted to wing it, because I’ve heard people who felt insulted by the game telling them they didn’t understand a thing!

The demo version throws you right in, it does give some directions though. But it’s a lot to take in without any frame of reference as to what you are doing.

The full game takes a much gentler approach. Well, gentler…the opening sequence will make you feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. After that, you meet Navi, a pesky talking cube, and you see your avatar for the first time. If he asks you if you already know the controls, don’t be hasty and listen to all Navi has to offer.


The short version of what he is telling you is that you have to make the cube the right temperature, make sure the water temperature is right and the humidity percentage is as it should be. You do this by raising the land to make mountains and ridges, lowering the land to make lakes and seas, and introducing new life forms.

Choosing your favorite world 

The four worlds you can choose from are very different from each other. Green Plains is the easiest one, with dinosaurs already populating the cube. Scorched Earth has little water and not a lot of greenery to offer, and is much tougher. The Frozen World has its own specific challenges trying to get the temperature up to. You have to bring Homo Erectus into this world.

BC81699C-DEA4-4BD7-8503-E67EC803F26DBut the fourth one is my favorite: one cube of solid rock and a blank canvas to play on! Navi guides you all the time, telling you the goal by pressing down on the right stick. He also tells you what the temperature should be to obtain your goal, what the humidity should be, which animals already have to populate the world before you can bring your goal-life form to live.

Of course, you can do it by fiddling with the terrain, but as you gather Stars in your world, you can also use them to take shortcuts. Stars can get you specific skills, like instantly making a mountain or make a small rain cloud appear.

Switching between micro and macro mode is key

You’d get bored pretty quick if you had to wait for evolution to take its course. So it’s key to switch to macro mode after you’ve depleted your HP (you deplete it by building).

In macro mode you look at your cube from a distance, and you can also speed up time. See the life forms coming and going in your world in Life News in the right side. And I’ll tell you, it’s a good feeling when you see the life form you’re after appear.


Stats and info

You might know that in real life I’m into finances and data, which might be why I love this part of the game: it gives you all kind of statistics and info. About your cube, you have an entire library of creatures that need to come to life, with one life form leading to another. A veritable tree of life!

You need that too, because the next goal isn’t necessarily the creature that’s next in line on the tree of life. You have to make some side steps to get where you want, and the library tells you exactly what conditions you will need.


New additions to the Switch version

The game now includes the ‘Monuments’ DLC which enables you to decorate your world with even more cosmetic items. Think flags, different avatars and monuments we know in our world.

Using the stars to use you skills like I described is new too in Happy Birthdays, and I should think it makes the game a lot more dynamic.


A combination of Viva Piñata and Minecraft

I have been thinking about the reason I adore this game. And then I realized it has the same vibe that Viva Piñata has. And that’s a game I enjoyed so much, it’s one of my favorite games! Even though I was only able to play it on my DS back then.

This game scratches the same itch, plus I love a good challenge where I have to immerse myself in a game. Fiddling with info, making the right conditions work and see what is born: can you tell I’m enthusiastic?

I like this game a lot!

But is this a game for everyone?

With my enthusiastic rambling done, I do realize this game might not be for everyone. So I decided to check with one of our younger readers, who is playing the game as well. She writes:

Happy Birthday’s is game I enjoy because of the large majority of creatures that you can see and learn about. It’s also interesting to see which species will appear once you have made changes to the environment. The game requires a lot of reading and experimentation, which means it wouldn’t suit everyone’s tastes.

There you have it, I guess there’s only one thing to do if you want to be sure: try the demo. After all, it’s free!



  1. I bought the original version for Playstation 4 and didn’t really like it. The demo of this one doesn’t make it seem much different. I do like the creator though, so I hope some people can enjoy it.

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