Like any decent movie tie-in, Happy Feet for the Game Boy Advance depicts a number of scenes from the animated film it's based on. You can relive young Mumble's first efforts to tap dance and his numerous attempts to woo Gloria, and you can take him out into the world to seek out the "aliens" that are stealing all of Antarctica's fish. The game isn't lengthy or challenging, but it does incorporate a varied mix of activities. Traditional run-and-jump levels are mashed together with underwater swimming and downhill sledding segments, as well as some downright impressive dance challenges that feature popular song recordings and involve pattern matching similar to what Konami has done in the Dance Dance Revolution series.
You control Mumble, an emperor penguin with killer breath and a talent for tap dancing.
The platforming, swimming, and sledding segments are the typical side-scrolling stuff you'll find in any movie tie-in on the GBA. In the platforming areas, you have to help Mumble fetch items for the other penguins by jumping between platforms, ducking into hidey-holes, and bouncing skyward off the tops of floating jellyfish. Also situated throughout these areas are the other penguins and animals you need to talk to in order to swim, sled, or show off Mumble's tap skills. The swimming segments bear a striking resemblance to Sega's old Ecco the Dolphin games. You can make Mumble swim, turn around, and dash using the directional pad and buttons. The idea is to dodge predators and gulp air bubbles while seeking out the fish that the animals up top have asked you to gather. For the sledding segments, you have to move Mumble up and down and leap over hazards while he slides on his belly down a constantly scrolling obstacle course.
Far and away, the tap dancing segments are the game's most engaging aspect. In them, you have to help Mumble perform a dance routine by tapping the indicated buttons and directions as they scroll up the screen. The developers put the most resources into these segments, and it shows. Mumble's image on the right side of the screen is large and wonderfully animated. He shimmies and poses in response to every input and shows off a wide range of dance moves. More impressive than the large penguin sprite is the fact that all of the accompanying songs are full-length recordings complete with lyrics. There are only five songs in the entire game, but they're the actual tracks from the movie soundtrack. Fans of the movie will appreciate these dance segments, since they really are a clever way of duplicating the dance scenes that took place in the movie.