It's a fact! No matter how powerful your computer is, in terms of actual intelligence it's not as "smart" as the lowliest mammalian life form. In the case of hamsters it's a tight race. That's one reason this virtual pet seems so uncannily vital. Another reason is the exceptional skill and sensitivity of its designer, Arai Harumi.

Ms. Arai developed Happy House out of personal tragedy. Her beloved Ruby cast off, and she had no one to spend long hours in front of the computer with. The care and detail that went into making Happy House gives meaning to why we keep warm beasts about us. Many will find this little program inescapably comforting.

Spread pine chips around the base of your monitor for best effect.

Download Happy House for the Mac (happyhse.hqx, 606k)

Download Happy House for Windows (happy.exe, 770k)

Installing And Running

Please note! I'm afraid I can't personally answer any more mail about unzipping and running Happy House, but don't worry! It's very, very easy, and completely automatic. I've got a new instruction page, in case you've never downloaded and unzipped a file before.

If you have any basic experience using a computer at all, you won't need the instructions. You'll have no problem extracting and using Happy House - it really is as simple as a stick. Just download the file and unzip or unstuff it. You won't need any special tools or software. Nevertheless, if you wish to write to us please do. Happy House is an extremely polite program, and doesn't muck around with anything else in your system. It's been tested on the Mac, under Windows 95 and Windows 3.1, and has never been known to do anything it's not supposed to. In fact, Happy House has never produced any unusual problems on any system (although there have been some reports that people were unable to use it under Windows 98, due to Microsoft's making it difficult to use other companies' software. If you're having trouble under Windows 98, see the following note regarding 256 colors).

Happy House was made with Macromedia Director, and can be enjoyed on any modest multimedia setup.

NOTE: Happy House works under many different screen colors (most modern systems are set to 24 or 32 bit True Color), however, results may differ depending upon the number of colors your computer is set to. Happy House was originally made to work best under 256 colors. You can easily adjust your screen colors in either Windows or Mac to 256 colors to view Happy House, and then change it back. This step may not be necessary, but you might enjoy seeing the differences (notably, the "end screen" with the "Hamster Angel" is more developed in 256 colors). To reset screen colors temporarily, go to your control panel in either Windows or Mac.

What Happy House Does

In the words of lifelong hamster lover M. Yoshida, "people who like hamsters will know what to expect". In other words, Happy House doesn't do much. When you start it, your screen will darken and a basket will appear. Click on the basket latch and the cover will open, revealing your newest friend. You may name it what you wish, but please give a thought to Ruby.

You feed your hamster by clicking on the food dish. That'll get its attention. Beyond that it's pretty much on its own. It will walk around, stuff its cheeks with food, unload the food, eat, sleep, groom itself and sleep. You can get its attention at any time with your pointer (but true to breed it will quickly lose interest in you). At present its physical functions are restricted to those above, but we are told that in future versions it may relieve itself. An exercise wheel has also been discussed.*

When you are ready to take Happy House off your desktop and your hamster is at rest, click on the upper portion of the basket and it will close. You can also end Happy House at any time by hitting the "Escape" key.

In our hearts we know that this is what hamsters want us to do with our computers.

If you'd like to send a fan letter to Ms. Arai, we will be happy to forward it with a brief translation (if necessary).

Visit Ms. Arai's Home Page

To The Maniform Site Guide

The Maniform Creative Services Home Page

A note about the fabled "Happy House Upgrade": We've been corresponding with our friend Harumi, and passing along many users' kind thoughts and requests. But the impression we get is that it's just not going to happen. I'm sorry to report it, but it's understandable.

In the beginning she just wanted to see her hamster illustrations "come alive". This was before the days of Gigapets and Tamagotchi. She never dreamed it would become so popular, and certainly didn't want to make money from it.

Ms. Arai began receiving many offers from toy companies to turn Happy House into a full virtual pet, with naming, feeding, breeding, life and death, etc. But the whole situation became so disruptive of her life that she just decided not to pursue it for now. Simply satisfying herself and other hamster lovers who can appreciate the tiny pleasures of Happy House just as it is, is all she ever sought. That's why she's so pleased when people write to her.

We know that she still thinks about it, and if she ever does decide to release an upgrade, this will be the place to get it.