Review: The Fancy Pants Adventures

In recent years we’ve seen a growing trend of Flash games making the conversion over to digitally distributed titles. This isn’t a recent thing, flOw started as a Flash game, but it seems to be growing and it makes a lot of sense. It’s relatively cheap and simple to create a Flash game when compared to building a smaller demo on a console, and not only gives you something to show to publishers but to gamers as well. However, The Fancy Pants Adventures is the first time I’ve seen a fairly old Flash title make its way over to the consoles.

[boxout]Perhaps the best way to describe The Fancy Pants Adventures is utterly charming. If you’re not familiar with the game in its Flash version then the probably the most striking thing is its visuals. It employs a hand drawn art style that doesn’t feel like it’s been used in many places before. In some ways it could be compared to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, with its relatively unique art almost not feeling like it’s being created by an engine. At times you get the sense that Over The Top Games have an artist sitting inside your TV, furiously sketching in response to your inputs.

Bringing even more out of the game’s fun art style are the customisation options. You can tweak your outfit at any time, putting new items on as you unlock them via completing levels or beating the bonus rooms. Want to wear a deerstalker with rainbow coloured trousers? Fancy Pants has you covered.

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Art style aside, the 2D platformer’s physics and gameplay are what set Fancy Pants apart from its brethren. It feels a little different, with the friction set lower than most titles. You’ll find yourself skidding and slipping the way through levels at times, and it can make jumps a little difficult to make. For the most part that doesn’t matter, as this isn’t generally a precision-platformer in the mold of titles like Super Meat Boy. There are a few places that do require real accuracy, largely in the game’s bonus rooms or when trying to grab some collectibles, and these can become a little frustrating. However, these points are generally optional and can be ignored should you feel like it.

What the game’s physics engine does bring about is a great feeling of momentum. Most of the more challenging sections revolve around this, working out how to build enough momentum to make the jump to a platform that seems painfully out of reach. The basic concept is a staple of platformers, but Fancy Pants’ execution feels some how different to most titles in the genre. It might perhaps be because that the use of momentum means that it doesn’t fall into the typical slow paced (Mario) or fast paced (Sonic) categories that seem to exist. In general the pacing is closer to Sonic, but it does feel like there’s more variety throughout.

The game isn’t without a few frustrations though. Central amongst these are the game’s water sections, which at points almost get to the controller throwing level of irritation. Your turning circle becomes so huge that it’s difficult to navigate, and if you get too close to a wall you will snap to it so you can push off and build some speed. At points it’s useful but for the most part it’ll drive you crazy.

[drop2]Also of irritation is the game’s check points, or lack of them. For the most part this is a minor irritation, and fairly standard for platformers. However, when you get to a boss fight, die, and are then forced to replay the level up to the boss, you find yourself getting more than a little annoyed.

Aside from the game’s main story mode, which follows the bizzare and amusing story of Fancy Pants Man, his little sister, a rainbow bearded pirate captain and tiny ninjas, you get both of the Flash titles included in the game as well as local co-op and online multiplayer. The co-op allows you to work through the main game with a friend, allowing you to make some jumps more easily.

As for the multiplayer we couldn’t actually get it to work. After several attempts and sitting in empty lobbies for far too long, we were forced to give up. Although this is a frustration, the multiplayer feels more like a nice extra rather than core to the experience. There’s plenty to keep you occupied without it, and it’s not something that should stop you from getting the title.

Pros

  • Charming, unique art style.
  • Plenty of bonus rooms and collectibles to increase difficulty and playtime.
  • A fun story.
  • Ports of original Flash games included.

Cons

  • Occasional control frustrations.
  • Inability to find any players in multiplayer match making.
  • Lack of check points before boss fights can get frustrating.

Overall there’s a lot to love about The Fancy Pants Adventures. Yes there are some frustrations, but they’re very easy to overlook. The biggest issue probably lies with the not being able to get into any games on the multiplayer, but it doesn’t really feel like you’re missing out. The single player is strong enough on its own that you don’t feel like you’re losing anything significant, and of course you may be able to get in yourself.

It’s not the longest game in the world, but with bonus rooms, collectibles, co-op and both of the Flash games it included it feels like tremendous value for money at 800 MS Points/£7.99. If you’re a fan of platformers it’s definitely worth a purchase.

Score: 8/10

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7 Comments

  1. Lovely stuff, Kris. Looking forward to trying out the demo. I needed a kick up the bum to do so (been sitting there lonely on my HDD for a week). Thanks! :)

  2. I have literally just finished this 100%. Fun platformer with plenty to do.

  3. Nice review, but I still wont pay for it. No doubt i’d enjoy it just as I did the flash adventure.

  4. I just noticed TFPA when the PS store returned… Maybe I should’ve bought it rather than Under Siege but it sounds good. Bought whenever the energy to actually play Under Siege awakens.

  5. Really didn’t enjoy the demo.

  6. Loved the demo. Will have to buy this soon.

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