Fancy Pants is still fancy fun, but this iOS adaptation doesn’t offer new content
If you’re an indie gaming fan then you no doubt already know all about The Fancy Pants Adventures. The cult favorite Flash game was ported to consoles last year and now the title has found its way over to iOS. With the transition came the opportunity for growth, but instead we’re getting a direct port of a game that you’ve likely seen before. All the core fun is still intact, but there’s nothing new to encourage another purchase.
The plot of The Fancy Pants Adventures is pure silliness, as Mr. Fancy’s sister is kidnapped by unwashed pirates in the very first stage. Our hero sets out to bring his little sibling back home, but what starts out as a simple damsel in distress plot slowly grows into something more. The story evolves in some very entertaining ways and the letters dropped by Fancy’s sister along the way are almost always good for a chuckle. All-in-all it’s a very laid back game that refuses to ever take itself seriously.
Gameplay is pure platforming, with Fancy running, jumping, sticking and rolling to clear each stage. Unlike many other games in the genre though, The Fancy Pants Adventures doesn’t require players to stick to a present path throughout out the course of the stage. You’re free to jump, fall, backtrack and take unorthodox approaches through each level, and often this exploration is rewarded with cool bonuses. Most of the game’s fun comes from picking a “line” through each level and then going back later and plotting out an entirely new route. It’s a bit of a mind shift for those used to traditional platforming games, but it’s also a great deal of fun.
Mr. Fancy relies mostly on parkour-style moves to get through a given level, so speed and momentum are at a premium. When it works you’ll find yourself gracefully jumping, flipping and sprinting your way through the environment, but unfortunately the loose controls will fail you more often than not. A constant complaint since the game’s Flash days is that the jumps are too “floaty” and imprecise. That issue rears its head once again here, making it nigh impossible to land exactly where you want. Even though you are rarely punished for missing a jump, it’s still annoying to lose your shot at a bonus item or big bunch of collectibles because the game overemphasizes forward momentum.
The other major failing is combat, which only gets worse as the game goes on. Through the first half of the game, your only defense against enemies is to jump on their heads or roll into them, and thanks to the aforementioned issues the first option isn’t always the best. In the second half of the title you’re given a melee weapon, but it’s cumbersome and really not much fun to use. It also brings the game to a screeching halt, whereas before you could jump and slide through enemies now you have to stop and engage in protracted swordfights.
While the gameplay often comes up short the game’s art style delivers in spades. The stick-figure Mr. Fancy, entertaining tertiary characters and vibrant environments look like they were ripped straight out of a notebook, but in a good way. The game is all doodles and scratchings, and the highest compliment that can be paid is that it looks absolutely effortless. I can only wonder how much effort went into making the game look so delightfully haphazard.
If you’ve never played The Fancy Pants Adventures before then iOS isn’t a bad place to jump aboard. The entertaining story and abundance of bonus challenges will keep you entertained for quite a while, and the game has style to spare. However, those who have already been on this adventure have no real reason to revisit it due to a lack of new content and gameplay mechanics that still don’t feel quite right.