It’d be easy to write-off Steppy Pants as yet another attempt to cash in on the “blank-y blank” game craze, but naming conventions aside, it’s actually quite enjoyable. Not just for a self-proclaimed walking simulator, but as an easy to pick up and hard to put down exercise in frustration.
Don’t worry — I mean the good kind of frustration. The kind that’s become a pillar of the mobile games industry.
The entire point of Steppy Pants is to walk forward. Just tap to lift a leg, then release to step down. Each successive step will alternate between left and right automatically, so tapping is all there is to it. Except it’s not.
As should be expected, the sidewalk is full of cracks: cracks between concrete sections, gaps between crosswalk lines, and so on. Stepping on one of these cracks results in immediate failure, with the awkward ragdoll of a main character flopping over dramatically before returning to the last checkpoint. Avoiding these cracks is what makes Steppy Pants so darn tricky. Holding down for too long, or not long enough, can easily land a foot on a crack and prematurely end a run (or walk. Whatever.)
High scores are determined by how many steps are taken in succession, but there’s also an overall distance counter that’s sort of its own separate kind of scoreboard. This is pretty nice, because it puts players under less pressure to perform perfectly every single time. Instead of worrying about getting a new personal best (which they can certainly still fret over if they’d like), they can steadily improve their overall distance traveled. Seeing other goofy characters standing off to the side as score markers for Game Center friends and other players is also a really nice touch. Breezing past a buddy or seeing someone off in the distance can be fantastic motivators.
Another thing designed to keep people coming back is the large assortment of mix-and-match outfits. Every 100 coins earned (via waiting long enough or by picking them up while walking) provides one spin of a rather large slot machine. In turn, that slot machine determines what will launch the main character forward (I don’t know) along some weird sort of prize-themed distance meter. Wherever they land, that’s what gets unlocked. New outfit pieces don’t afford any special bonuses or anything, but they do provide a nice incentive. As does seeing the weird combinations other players have come up with.
A weird gripe I have, especially in light how many other mobile games are guilty of this, is that Steppy Pants borrows a little too much from Crossy Road’s design. The gameplay itself is very different, but the general visual style and gacha-style unlocks might be a little too close for comfort. Although what really made me raise an eyebrow was just how similar the menu buttons look, as well as how the distribution of coins is handled. I mean it’s a solid approach, and one that doesn’t feel overbearing like many other free games, but I was legitimately shocked to see that Hipster Whale (the Crossy Road developers) didn’t have their name attached to this one.
A more traditional concern, but one that’s still not great, is that of performance. I have no qualms with how Steppy Pants performs on the screen, but I’m not okay with how it seems to sap my phone’s battery. I don’t know what’s going on under the metaphorical hood, but whatever it is chews through power faster than other, far more graphically demanding games.
Really though, aside from the questionably familiar style and a potential “memory leak” or processing snafu or whatever, Steppy Pants is a fantastic “just one more try” sort of game. It’s super easy to get into, but much more difficult to put down. Especially once other players and Game Center friends start lining the sidewalk.