The Fancy Pants Adventures

Back in November 2010, Electronic Arts and indie developer Brad Borne announced that his Flash-based platformer The Fancy Pants Adventures would be coming to consoles courtesy of EA’s EA2D label. A downloadable title, The Fancy Pants Adventures forgoes flashy visuals for a distinctive stick-drawn style and technical gameplay. Like its former Flash-based predecessors Super Meat Boy and N+, The Fancy Pants Adventures hopes to sell itself on expertly designed levels tuned to exploit the distinctive physics engine designed around wall jumps and flips. You can play the original Flash game here.

We had a chance to play the latest build of the game, and it plays great. Heavily influenced by inertia, Fancy Pants will run, leap and flip through a squiggly platforming world. He can leap off walls and jump, kick and slash his way past enemies. Like the older Sonic the Hedgehog games, when Fancy Pants gets going, it can be difficult to make him stop or turn around. Thankfully, the stages are designed to launch the stick man off ramps, down slopes, and through half-loops and other obstacles.

For the many saying that The Fancy Pants Adventures is reminiscent of Super Meat Boy and N+, recognize that while the games are similar, plenty distinguishes them. While Super Meat Boy and N+ are focused on puzzles and quick response times, The Fancy Pants Adventures is about exploration and discovery. In all of the levels, Fancy Pants can catapult himself off ramps, enemies and other players to reach secret areas filled with collectibles and mini-challenges. Additionally, players can unlock a pencil that can be swung as a sword, letting Fancy Pants actually attack enemy characters instead of simply jumping on them, a feature missing in the Flash game original.

Multiplayer is new to Fancy Pants. Up to four players can play and work through the levels together. Like the chaos of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, four-player co-op can get a little hectic, with players jumping off each other, kicking each other, and generally competing to grab the collectible squiggles strewn around the stages. To help individualize the look of each Fancy Pants, players can unlock different colored pants, hats, and weapons. Many clothing options are available, ranging from froggy hats to parrot-swords.

The real fun comes from the arcade versus modes. In the hub world, players can move to an arcade cabinet to challenge each other in races and King of the Hill matches. Races are exactly what you’d expect: Players sprint through platforming levels to be the first to make it to the end. King of the Hill is much more interesting, with small enclosed arenas challenging players to duke it out in the top area of a stage and collect squiggles launched by a cannon. The competition can get surprisingly heated, with players knocking each other off the top platform to claim the goodies for themselves. I wouldn’t consider the arcade elements to be the best feature of The Fancy Pants Adventures, but it’s a nice addition to the game.

Surprisingly, The Fancy Pants Adventures looks pretty good. It’s nothing amazing, especially considering the stickman character design and the simple art direction. But Fancy Pants himself is a very fluid character, and the visuals of the game work in benefit of the technical gameplay as opposed to interfering with it.

The Fancy Pants Adventures shows substantial promise for those who want more platforming action on their consoles. Launching on April 19 and 20 for PSN and XBLA for a clean $10, The Fancy Pants Adventures is an enjoyable game worthy of some attention.