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Side-scrolling action games seem to be a staple on the Xbox Live Marketplace. From Contra to Earthworm Jim to even original titles like Alien Hominoid, the marketplace is filled with them. It seems as if there is a new one every month, and this month it’s The Fancy Pants Adventures’ turn. Is Fancy Pants Adventures just another side-scroller that will be thrown by the wayside or can it be something that requires your immediate download?
The Fancy Pants Adventures is based off the flash game
released by Brad Borne, which I had never played until starting my review of
its XBLA counterpart. One thing that definitely carried over into the new Xbox
Live version of Fancy Pants is the cartoon look that adds a very unique visual
style to the game. It has a recently hand drawn look, but not in a bad way.
Colors pop and more importantly, the animations are fantastic. Watching Fancy
Pants do backflips and then transition into a quick sprint up a winding loop
can drop your jaw in a heartbeat.
It is very obvious that Brad Borne took a lot of inspiration from the Sonic franchise. The movement is quick and the early parts of the game revolve mostly around jumping on enemies' heads to kill them. These earlier sections are great, but upon actually moving further into the game you are forced to start to using the combat, which requires you to repeatedly press X, where you can either do a light attack or a heavy attack. As you can guess, only doing these same attacks over and over again can get very tedious, and trying to mix them with doing jump attacks is downright impossible at times.
Most of the time, the movement is well animated and very stylish. But being forced to jump repeatedly can bring out another one of Fancy Pants’ biggest flaws: the random sliding that happens after jumps. This problem may seem minor but if you’re being forced to make very precise jumps, the slight slide can ruin your day. The even more frustrating part is that you never know exactly how far or if at all Fancy Pants will slide. This issue persists throughout the entire game and when it is combined with the lackluster combat, the game becomes a schmorgasboard of frustration and tedium.
The length of Fancy Pants Adventures is fairly decent but that’s not a good thing if you can’t vary the gameplay up enough so that it doesn’t feel like you’re doing the same thing repeatedly. The story mode can last you about three hours, and it quickly becomes repetitive and feels like it will never end at times. There isn’t much variety apart from sprint, attack, sprint, attack, and repeat. The sprinting is all well and good but having to halt your momentum to whip out your pencil for some spider-stabbing bogs the game down drastically. Once you realize you’re going to have to stop to attack an enemy, you immediately either want to skip the section or just quit the game altogether. There are a slight bit of mini games to be found but none of them are especially unique and the more interesting ones such as golf are unnecessarily difficult to obtain.
The time when you will have the most fun playing Fancy Pants
is more than likely going to be in the coop. As it is with many games, Fancy
Pants is much more fun with a friend by your side. The issues you run into in
single-player don’t magically vanish by any means, but there’s something about
running through a level with a friend that is just plain fun, at least for an
hour. After that initial slap of fun passes, the prevalent problems throughout Fancy
Pants Adventures arise and make you want to immediately stop playing the game
all over again.
The soundtrack is thankfully pretty damn good. It’s nothing that’ll be stuck in your head all day but the music is a great fit for the action happening on the screen. It’s fast, energetic, and relentless. While the soundtrack is obviously nowhere near a saving grace for this title, it’s still nice to hear.
The Fancy Pants Adventures is a wonderfully neat idea. A blatantly hand drawn art style mixed with fast Sonic-style gameplay. But the disheartening issues such as lack of variety and occasionally frustrating controls are the main things that make Fancy Pants a hard game to recommend. If you’re looking for fun, random coop action then you should think about picking up Fancy Pants. If you want anything else, you should pass on these pants. I recommend some new shorts.