The Fancy Pants Adventures
All done? Alright. Wasn’t that fun? Now, you may be asking why you would want a $10 downloadable version of that? Well, Wednesday’s Fancy Pants Adventures XBLA game has so much content crammed in it that $10 seems like a complete steal, and almost immediately became one of my absolute favorite XBLA titles alongside Castle Crashers and N+.
The Fancy Pants Adventures follows none other than Mr. Fancy Pants, an energetic stick figure with a rather colorful pair of pants. Everything in FPA is hand-drawn, and looks like something out of the notebook of a fifth grader. Now, this isn’t an insult. FPA’s art style is fun to look at and each level is gigantic, covered in loops, hills and springboards to go nuts on. Mr. Fancy Pants is fast on his feet and can do a number of acrobatic moves, which lends a certain amount of flow to the game’s controls. Much like N+, momentum is really important in getting from point A to point B, since running at a ramp and jumping is going to give you a different result than running at that same ramp from up a hill and then jumping. Levels in FPA are tailored quite well to this, giving you plenty of room to run around and lots of large ramps and loop-de-loops to have fun on. This made me feel incredibly nostalgic, as I used to draw large, intricate maps on any paper I had laying around as a kid and draw little stick figures jumping from place to place.
Each level in FPA has a number of objectives to complete. There are little black squiggles spread around to collect, three stars to grab, a challenge room to complete and a hidden time trial in which you have to collect a string of yellow squiggles within a certain amount of time (kind of like the blue coin challenges from Super Mario 64). None of these objectives need to be completed in order to progress to the next level, in fact all you really need to do to beat the game is just run to the end of each level as fast as possible. As you complete these objectives, however, you unlock different clothing with which to customize Mr. Fancy Pants. In your house (which acts as a sort of level hub) you can access your wardrobe, which allows you to customize your hat, pants, and weapon (later in the game you pick up a pencil which then stays with you permanently, even while replaying previous levels). There are 140 hats, pants and weapons altogether, which gives you that little itch to go back and complete an earlier level 100% just to see what sorts of goodies you’ll unlock.
If there is one thing FPA doesn’t do quite right, its the combat. From the beginning Mr. Fancy Pants can destroy enemies by either jumping on their heads or sliding into them. This knocks them out, and you can then get rid of them entirely by punting them like a soccer ball. This is a fun spin on the cliche platformer combat, but the issue here is in the hit detection. Quite a few times I’ve hopped on an enemy’s head only to still get hurt and flung backwards. Add in Mr. Fancy Pant’s habit of sliding around on slightly-sloped surfaces, and suddenly even the simplest enemies become a little more frustrating than they should be. While this is never a huge problem as levels are never covered in enemies, it is a slight annoyance.
In addition to FPA’s immensely enjoyable story mode, there is also a challenge mode, as well as the complete first and second flash games tweaked slightly to accommodate the ability to unlock things. Any of these can be enjoyed with up to three other players, either in local multiplayer or on Xbox Live (with guest support!). Fancy Pants Adventures is packed to the brim with things to do and unlock, and the addition of co-op is just delicious icing on the already fancy cake. This is absolutely one of my top ten XBLA games, and is something you need to enjoy as soon as possible.