misterbananafoam's The Fancy Pants Adventures (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

A flash-to-console release that feels a little baggy

Unless you enjoy lingering on flash game sites like Addicting Games, you probably have never heard of Fancy Pants Worlds 1 and 2, and I pity you for it. Fancy Pants is one of the most expertly designed flash games I've ever played. It combines the speediness of Sonic the Hedgehog with parkour-esque flips and tricks. Fancy Pants is an elegant, wonderful game, and if you haven't played the first two games, do yourself a favor...
 
FP 1: http://armorgames.com/play/301/fancy-pants-adventures
FP 2: http://armorgames.com/play/553/the-fancy-pants-adventure-world-2
 
Done that? Great. Now let's get back on track.
 
As I've already mentioned, Fancy Pants is on my top 10 favorite flash games ever, and when I heard that it was coming to the Xbox Live Marketplace, I squee'd and jumped all over the place. The trailer looked fantastic - Four player co-op, customizable characters, and an all-new adventure? I couldn't wait!
 
Then came judgement day. I purchased the game (it's 10 dollars, by the way), and I had a lot of fun at first, but I couldn't help but feel that the game lost its charm. The music, the characters, even some of the gameplay... It just didn't feel the same.
 
I looked at the bottom-left of the game's ad, and I saw...
 

 Oh, you bastards.
Most of you don't know this, but when games go from indie to being released on console, sometimes, it feels like major developers have a tendency to screw with the game a bit to their liking. Look at Rare, for Christ's sake. They lost pretty much all of their original developers and they've been forced to produce shovelware titles for years now under Microsoft. I guess that's going a bit extreme, but even though EA does make very great games, sometimes they can get on my nerves. Of course, EA was assisted by Over the Top games, another studio I've never heard of, and maybe it was partially their fault, too, but in either case, the game lost its charm when it stopped going indie. That's all I have to say.
 
That's not to say that the game is awful. It's miles away from that, it's just never going to live up to the hype of the last few titles, not with somebody like this included in the game:
 
 Yes, this guy is the villain. I don't know what to say either.
But enough harping. I'm sure there's something good about this re-imagining, so let's don our trousers and get to The Fancy Pants Adventures.
 
The Fancy Pants games are notorious for being very short games. It should've taken you only about 20 minutes to beat both of those flash games, unless you aren't an avid platforming fan like myself. The Fancy Pants Adventures actually manages to avoid this, for the most part. The game is set in 11 chapters, and unlike the previous games, there's much more in store here. Along with the main levels, there's little bonus challenges spread out through the levels, and completing them gives you more customization options (and yes, you can also customize your pants). That's also not to mention the Micro Trials, which are a set of linear challenges that have you collect a certain amount of yellow squiggles in a time limit.
 
 An example of a Micro Trial. Some of these require precise jumps and fancy flips, too.
 
Perhaps the greatest thing about the series is its staple gameplay mechanics. Fancy Pants Man controls like a mix between Sonic and Faith from Mirror's Edge, having you do backflips, wall jumps, wall runs and much more. This game is as fluent as the past two, with a few minor gameplay tweaks. The past installments attempted to avoid using combat, but halfway through the game you receive a pencil, which acts very much like a dagger, allowing you to stab enemies and temporarily stun them before kicking them across the map. Here's my complaint with this. Do any of you remember Sonic and the Black Knight? Re member how awful everyone says that game is? Remember the huge fricking sword Sonic carries around with him in that game? Remember how that sword sort of made him look off-balance compared to his normal behavior? This is somewhat lik e that. I like running at high speeds and doing fancy flips as much as the next guy, but having to put a halt to my parkour just to stab some crab in the stomach because I can't jump on him makes the game go much slower and makes it less fun in turn. Still, it's not a major hindrance, and most of the gameplay remains largely unchanged.
 
I'm sure none of you bothered to give a crap about the stories in the first couple games. Hell, the 2nd game solely exists because Fancy Pants Man's ice cream gets stolen. They had the bare minimum of plot, so what does Fancy Pants Adventures do? Give it a more fleshed-out plot, of course! I won't complain too much about the game's story, it's simple and charming and all that. My main gripe is with all the extra characters they decided to add to the game. FPM's sister is introduced to us, and while this does sound like a good way to build character development, most of her dialogue (which isn't really dialogue rather than messages writ ten in bottles) is compromised of old school net-speak, smiley faces and all. This came off as a little odd to me, but then again, I'm not used to girls who draw smiley faces and pictures all over their letters, so it's basically a personal complaint. Then we have all of the 'challenge' character that introduce you to bonus activities in the game, and some of them look butt-ugly. I really wish they would have just stuck with the old games' tradition of 'having random bonus doors with trophy stands standing outside them' instead.
 
Even the music sounds changed. There's not really a good way to describe it, other than it just doesn't sound as 'majestic' or 'awe-inspiring' as the first two installments. It's generic music for the most part, although I will admit I did find the second level's theme catchy. It also appears that they didn't keep the death music from the first two games, which was very dramatic and depressing, and that's what made dying in those games feel more like a punishment. I don't know if they changed it to the game over screen because I never saw it, but it was actually a good piece despite sounding very sad and gloomy.
 
Some of the game's features were very deep and enjoyable. For instance, every time you completed a new level, you gained an article of clothing to dress up your own Fancy Pants Man avatar with. There's over 100 bits of clothing in total, and you can even replace your pencil with something like a fork or a lightsaber. In addition to customization, there's also up to four player co-op, though I'm not sure whether or not it's drop-in/drop-out. Whatever the case is, it's very fun. You can bounce on top of your friends, complete challenges together, kick them high into the air, and it's an all-out blast. Versus Multiplayer is lacking, but I came to expect that, I guess, what with it being a 2D sidescrolling platformer. Another cool feature is that they brought back the first two Fancy Pants episodes to play in the game, with original music and all, and you can also play them with your friends or online if you wish.
 
 Four player co-op and customized characters in action. There's over 100 articles of clothing and weapons to choose from.
All in all, it feels like the series was tainted a bit, but it's left mostly polished. Fancy Pants Adventures is a great co-op game, and the customization really drives it home, despite some of its glaring flaws. The story could've been drawn out a little longer, and the music could've been worked on some more, but this is a decent package, and if you enjoyed the first few games, I wouldn't hesitate to make this purchase. Stay fancy, folks.
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