The Fancy Pants Adventures
The Fancy Pants Adventures has an interesting history. Brad Borne created the original installments as free Flash games that were praised for their tight platforming and compelling art style. This new downloadable installment includes both of the original worlds, along with a new story involving Fancy Pants Man and his quest to save his sister from some ridiculous pirates. Original design and a quirky style keep the new game enjoyable throughout, but some significant features need tweaking before this hero can stand with the big platforming heavyweights.
Fancy Pants is a highly momentum-driven platformer. Like the classic Sonic games, navigating the world is as much about how fast you’re going as the precision of your jumping. A big part of the game’s challenge comes from learning how to maximize jump distance and height by running the correct distance and pressing the right directions as you leap. When you nail it, the platforming is splendid. Running through loop de loops, virtually flying off high cliffs, and hopping back and forth between walls looks and feels great. When you don’t nail it, the game comes to a standstill. Frustrating jumping sequences and sudden, jarring stops are common until you get a firm handle on the controls.
One other big dilemma is the implementation of combat. The floaty jump vibe makes it hard to reliably land where you want on an enemy. A short ways into the game, you’re gifted with a melee weapon, but the combat system is too simplistic to work well. I always felt clumsy as I hefted my weapon to strike, and I took plenty of damage because an attack just didn’t swing in the way I expected.
Two extremely fun ideas elevate the experience. The first is a dress-up mechanic that slowly unlocks new hats, pants, and weapon skins as you play. The ability to change your appearance goes a long way to offering replay value to a game that is otherwise lacking in that department. The second standout feature is the availability of cooperative play for up to four friends. By using each other as springboards, it’s much easier to confront the game’s challenges. Plus, it’s just plain fun to bounce off your buddy’s head to reach a high vantage point.
It’s also worth mentioning how much content has been stuffed into the game. Beyond the new story mode and the returning worlds from the Flash games, there are a number of bonus rooms and arcade challenges that further lengthen the experience. The Fancy Pants Adventures has plenty of wit and childlike glee; polish the gameplay a little more, and this fancy protagonist will be deserving of even more attention.
The popular Flash game is making its way to the major console download services, and this quirky platformer is worth a look.