Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Fancy Pants Adventures

The Fancy Pants Adventures is an utterly charming platformer. It doesn't have anything particularly new, I must concede, but it is so well executed and thoroughly whimsical that it is still a joy to play. The only disappointment is that it's a relatively small game, and when that's the worst I can say, you know it's a good game.

The game will look and feel instantly familiar to anyone who's played a Mario game. Sure, you have Fancy Pants Man instead of Mario, squiggles instead of coins, and patrolling spiders instead of Goombas, but the basic scheme is pretty much the same. In some ways, it is more in the spirit of the old 2D Mario games (down to the control scheme where up arrow is used for entering doors, while a separate button on your other hand is used to jump, which in some ways feels downright archaic), but there are touches of newer Marios as well, as can be seen in Fancy Pants Man's backflips and wall jumps; also, your character has a life bar, which can be replenished by collecting more squiggles. There's even a little bit of Sonic in Fancy Pants Man. Like I said, there's a lot of familiar elements.

But what makes this game still fun to play, even for someone who's spent countless hours playing all sorts of Mario, is the attention to detail. The artwork is lovingly hand-drawn, and the animation is excellent. The level design is solid -- there are three levels, with two little transitional levels in between and the final boss at the end, and each is enjoyable. My only complaint is that it doesn't actually tell you what level you're on, so if you're not paying close attention it's easy to lose track of how much you have left. Each level is pretty short if you're just aiming to get from beginning to end, but there's some other things scattered about -- you can find trophies, and there's also a hidden feature, as well as a few coin -- I mean, squiggle -- rooms. Overall, the levels do a good job of keeping you entertained; there's usually something else to be explored or optimized, but the game doesn't frustrate you, either.

The music is also excellent. To repeat an all-too-familiar complaint, the loop is a little short, but it's good music, and there are a few different themes (there's separate music for the transitional levels, as well as the final boss) so you don't get completely tired. Anyway, it's perfectly appropriate for a light little platformer like this.

Like I said at the beginning, this is not a particularly long game (even if you're looking for all the trophies), nor is it a particularly difficult game (though achieving the speed required to get the hard badge will require a bit of practice), but it is still a lot of fun to play. It's a game I would have no problems recommending to anyone, partially because it's not horribly violent or bloody or gory like so many games you'll see on Kongregate, but mostly because I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it.

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