Even the fanciest pants won't make a good game.
The Fancy Pants AdventuresPublisher: Electronic Arts
Players: 1-4 players
Price: $10 URL: http://www.fancypantsadventures.com/
Platforms: Playstation 3, XBox 360 (reviewed)
Developer: Borne Games
Release Date: 2011-04-20
I'll get this out of the way right now: Fancy Pants Adventures tries really hard to make you like it. It even draws from some of the best games of its kind with level design and mechanics that seem to be a blend of Sonic the Hedgehog and N. Unfortunately, drawing comparisons between it and the platformers from which it has taken its inspiration only highlights the games problems.
The "plot" of the game isn't really that important, but here's a quick summation. There are pirates, and they've kidnapped your sister Cutie Pants. So, the Fancy Pants Man has to go rescue her. Also, there are spiders or . . . maybe they're dust mites. I'm not exactly sure, but you have to jump on their heads to kill them. The whole thing's rendered in a cartoony style that is evocative of any one of a million flash games that involve stick figures, and the whole thing is very minimalist, which is perhaps one of the reasons that I was reminded so strongly of N (because that also involved a stick figure character running about levels). However, N is more about getting out of the room by solving the puzzle (which involves lots of jumping and split-second timing) rather than just progressing through the level by making the jumps at the right times (which is really more of a Sonic thing).
And, oh, the level design. I will admit that I did enjoy the level design a good deal -- there are multiple paths, and as there is no timer, there's no pressure to get to the end with any sort of speed (indeed, each level has a couple of secret areas that you can find for points/achievements). This is both a blessing and a curse, however, as I found it difficult to actually keep playing when really there was no pressure on me to continue. Even with the lovely level design, I never really felt drawn in to explore or to get to the end. I was merely dropped into the level, and then it was as if the game felt as if it had done its job by loading the level and felt no real need to prod me forward.
Despite the level design being good, I still didn't really feel like I wanted to play the game. It failed to hold my attention, possibly due to the nagging feeling that we've seen this before. You can play multiplayer, apparently, but I couldn't convince any of my friends to buy the game -- mostly because they all responded "but I have New Super Mario Bros," or "I have Sonic" or "shut up." The real problem with Fancy Pants Adventures is that because it does not bring anything new to the table (apart from pants which are supposedly fancy), the onus is on the gameplay to be refined to the point where it rises above all who came before.
Fancy Pants Adventures suffers from too much momentum behind Fancy Pants Man, so that it feels as if the whole thing takes place on a skating rink. Changing directions will often lead to the unfortunate Fancy Pants Man to skid in the opposite direction for a little while. It doesn't seem to be related to momentum either, as taking a mere two steps in one direction and one step in another causes the same skidding. It makes the controls feel sloppy in a way that controls for a platformer never should. With a little more polish, this could be a great game. As it is, Fancy Pants Adventures is just shy of average.