Fancy Pants Man made his debut in a browser-based game back in 2006 when Brad Borne put out Fancy Pants Adventures – World 1. The game caused a stir owing to its one-man developer approach, slick animation and good humour. Two years later World 2 was released in a similar fashion.
Now, five years after Fancy Pants Man originally sprinted his way onto PCs, the game has arrived on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. With the aid of a larger development team behind the title, has the game made a good transition, or should Fancy Pants have stayed confined to a web browser?
Those who have played the original games will be wondering whether or not the console version warrants having money spent on it. Why pay for something when you’ve already had it for free elsewhere, right? The good news is that The Fancy Pants Adventures is loaded with new content and an entirely new story spanning across multiple environments. And for fans of the original World 1 and World 2, that’s there for you as well.
Oh no! Fancy Pants Man’s little sister (Cutie Pants) has been kidnapped by pirates. It’s up to you to save her before she concedes to their piratey ways and becomes their captain forever. To aid you in your rescue quest you’ll get a weapon with which to fend off pesky spiders, loathsome pirates and the most ridiculously infuriating mice armed with pistols – I hate those guys. The game’s staples of parkour-like running, somersaulting, rolling and jumping are all there, but the addition of a melee-based weapon does halt the game’s inherent fluidity of movement. One minute you’ll be barrelling along a platform and flying through loop-the-loops only to grind to a sudden halt in order to hack away at enemies; it’s a little jarring and breaks the game’s mantra of “Run fast; run fancy”.
What Fancy Pants veterans will immediately notice, however, is how the controls have changed. Console Fancy Pants is a bitch to control. He slips and slides all over the place, and in later levels where platform hopping becomes essential, you will be infuriated by the crappy momentum and jumping mechanic. Beneath the game’s cheerful exterior is a tough-as-nails platformer. Do not be fooled by the charm; this game is controller-flingingly difficult at times.
Possibly the biggest plus to the console version is the addition of up-to four-player multiplayer. You can take on the game’s story mode over XBL/PSN or locally, but throughout my time with the game I was never able to find an online game to join. Hosting one resulted in me twiddling my thumbs in a lobby, hoping that somebody would join me. If you’re wanting to dive into the multiplayer, then you’re going to want to do so locally, or invite friends to join you online. Local multiplayer works well and the screen zooms out to keep track of multiple Fancy Pants Men if they happening to be sprinting in opposite directions. It’s rather slick and there’s something wildly satisfying in watching numerous Fancy Pants Men all performing identical parkour movements at high speeds.
The Fancy Pants Adventures is an old-school platformer at heart. If you need an analogy then it’s Super Mario Bros. meets Sonic the Hedgehog. The game has more charm than is healthy and a delicious soundtrack to accompany your Fancy Pants adventure. Chuck in multiple unlocks for different coloured pants, hats and weapons as well as buckets of hidden rooms and challenges, and you’ve got a game that can keep you occupied for hours and hours. Of course, completionists will freak out at the sheer magnitude of stuff to collect, so if you’re that way inclined then beware.