I don’t know about you guys, but I spent a good deal of my early teenage years over at newgrounds.com, watching puerile videos and playing games which, at the time, amazed me due to the fact that they were completely internet-based. However dated that thought process may seem these days, back in the late 90s, it was positively revolutionary. Over the next few years, although my interest in flash-based animation has waned, Newgrounds, and other emerging sites of similar ilk went from strength to strength, adding games and animations at a frenetic pace. The success of these sites can be seen in games such as Super Meat Boy and Alien Hominid, both of which started out on Newgrounds and went on to experience retail success.
The most recent game to make the jump from web-based gaming to home consoles is The Fancy Pants Adventures, based on Brad Borne’s Fancy Pants Man, and published by EA’s offshoot, EA2D. Containing both worlds originally released as flash games, as well as an all new story mode, can The Fancy Pants Adventures do its part to bridge the notoriously prickly gap between console and PC gamers? We’re about to find out......
Tickle Your Fancy - Although it looks like it was drawn by a child, The Fancy Pants Adventures (FPA) hides a fiendish difficulty. Initially, as you first speed through the levels, in awe of the colours and landscapes, you won’t even have a hint of what later lies in store for you as you search every nook and cranny for the umpteen collectibles offered in the game. With 140 different items to collect for Fancy Pants Man alone including hairstyles, pants and weapons, you have your work cut out for you from the get go. When stars and other pick-ups are added into the mix required for a full 100% completion, you realise that the first initial run-through barely scratched the surface of what this game has to offer. Considering that FPA also offers multiplayer with up to 4 people running through a stage at one time, you realise that the developers have created an OCD-sufferer’s nightmare.
Flights of Fancy - As mentioned above, FPA looks a little like it was drawn by a pre-schooler, and this may be enough to turn some people off before they’ve even had a chance to play the game. This is a shame as FPA’s animations and artwork contain more imagination in a single level than some typical grey/brown shooters contain in their entire duration. Combined with a wacky story that includes a rainbow-bearded pirate kidnapping the hero’s little sister, a pirate princess who wants her ship repainted each day to match her dress, and a variety of well-illustrated enemies, FPA contains a veritable feast for the eyes. Although simple, the visuals contain a great deal of charm. They’ll keep you smiling even when the game is battering you with rock-hard frustration.
Footloose and Fancy-Free - Although a thoroughly entertaining and well-designed game, FPA does contain some elements which will raise hackles. Firstly, the music is downright annoying, and the majority of the sound-effects sound like noises a kid you’re babysitting would make in an attempt to make you question your grip on sanity in exchange for an extra hour before bedtime. In addition, the controls can occasionally feel a little loose, and the range of enemy attacks can sometimes be misleading. When these two aspects are combined, they can make for incredibly frustrating stretches of play. Whilst far from game breaking, particularly when you learn to compensate for these factors, it is worth bringing attention to them if you are thinking of purchasing the game.
If, like me, you bemoan the lack of decent 2D platformers being released recently, then the answer is an unequivocal yes. The Fancy Pants Adventures is a well-designed, brilliantly executed and extremely fun game to play which, once you’re drawn in, will take a good while to complete entirely. With a good sense of humour, some genuinely charming artwork, and plenty to collect, FPA could keep you busy for weeks. If, however, you are after a deep and meaningful story, or are scared that your friends will castrate you for playing a so-called ‘kids’ game, then look elsewhere, because this isn’t a title for you. For those still remaining, put on your fanciest pair of trousers, sit back, and prepare to have a lot of fun.