Hey kids! We're about to have a good time. I've got my strong arm and a bag full of mail. See these letters? They're all yours so long as you sit cross-legged and wear a smile. Let's go!
There aren't enough exclamation marks in the world to convey the joy and enthusiasm on display in MORNING POST. You can see it in the bold outlines of the pre-school art that quivers at you with excitement. You can see it in the faces of the kids spread across carpet and cupboard as you march into their home and endlessly fling mail into their laps. It launches from your chest with a boing and they absolutely love it.
It's rare to find a game this happy. Even rarer is how it achieves such high levels of delight. Many games that could be described as 'happy' wear it as a technicolor coat over a nest of strict systems hidden underneath. Look at the happy-go-lucky characters of PaRappa the Rapper dancing around and you could be convinced the disc it's delivered on is pressed out of pure joy. There's a Jamaican frog that wears sandals and tropical shirts for crying out loud.
But the experience of playing PaRappa the Rapper is quite different to the one its visuals express. You slam together a series of button prompts that run across the top of the screen. You have to focus on them so much you're hardly able to pay attention to the sweet moves of the characters below. Most crushing is the fact that frustration comes easily if you fall out of rhythm, and you probably will.
There are exceptions among these superficially happy games that are exemplified by the work of Keita Takahashi. His games Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy function as playgrounds. There's space to mess around and explore without a disapproving rap teacher berating you for your performance. It's telling that the title Noby Noby Boy is derived from the Japanese word "nobinobi," which means "carefree." That's exactly the ethos that runs throughout Takahashi's games. The freedom of these digital wonderlands make for a joyful play experience.
MORNING POST shares this sentiment. It would have been easy enough for its creators to slap a scoring system and timer to the game. But they don't even go so far as to tell you what to do. The result is a game that feels closer to a piece of interactive children's theater. You play the role of mail person who arrives to bring people joy.
As an adult, you might have forgotten how exciting it is to be a kid and receive mail. In those young years you associate it with birthdays rather than bills. Playing MORNING POST should bring memories of that association flooding back. But this time you're dishing out the happiness, one letter at a time, or 15 at a time if you fancy.
There are no limits as to who gets a letter in the game and how many they should get. Everything from doors and trees to tennis balls has a smiley face drawn onto it, encouraging you to spread the love far and wide. Make sure you don't miss the orange squidge hiding in the back yard.