It feels like a million years ago now, but at one point the most hopping hub for indie games was through web portals containing games built in Flash. Yes, the one that doesn’t work with iOS and has largely gone the way of the dodo. Anyway, back in 2006, if you were a Flash game developer, the place to be was Newgrounds. They had a whole bunch of the best Flash games in one place, along with seemingly thousands of, er, learning experiences. It was in this environment that Mr. Fancy Pants, the titular character of Fancy Pants Adventures (Free), made his amazing debut. That game did the most important thing a platformer can do to get going: polished its physics and controls to a fine, fine sheen. It proved incredibly popular, and its developer continued to build on it in his spare time, adding new worlds complete with new gimmicks and moves to play around with.
Somewhere during that process, an iOS version was made available by Chillingo. Remember Chillingo, friends? This is such a nostalgic review! Since the original game was designed to be played with a keyboard, it didn’t even hurt the game all that much when it moved over to touch controls. New content and ports trickled out to other platforms in the following years, until it finally seemed like Mr. Fancy Pants and his creator were taking a well-deserved rest. That’s just what they wanted you to think, though. No sooner than we all got complacent when – BAM! New Fancy Pants! Super Fancy Pants Adventure ($4.99), to be exact. The latest installment hit Steam in September of 2017, and a few weeks ago word got out that it would be coming to iOS as well. And here we are!
If you haven’t played any of the Fancy Pants games before, they’re basically ultra-fluid platformers with great physics. Sort of an ode to the better Sonic the Hedgehog games, in one way. The initial game was a hop-and-bop but later updates added in a pencil weapon and some new moves like wall-kicking, giving the game a flavor all its own. The hero of the game is a well-animated stick figure with spiky hair and colorful pants. You run and jump through the levels, smack some bad guys around, play golf with snail shells, collect little Dreamcast logos, and try to make it to the goal of each stage without running out of lives.
That’s basically what you’ll be up to in Super Fancy Pants Adventure as well. It’s bigger, and your character’s pencil gets upgraded to a pen that has some interesting new moves, but the core gameplay is still quite intact. This time there are more than 50 levels, and you can use your Dreamcast swirls to buy upgrades like new moves, upgraded attacks, and life bar extensions. They still serve the purpose of refilling lost life energy and granting you extra lives, too. Dreamcast is life, friends. The main levels feel a lot larger this time around, but those of you who enjoyed the punchy smaller bits will be happy to hear they live on in Super Fancy Pants Adventure. Scattered throughout the levels are doors that take you to relatively short tests of skill. Should you successfully complete them, you’ll earn some fancy new Fancy Pants, and even some Fancy Hats. Shirts? Shoes? What are you, the law?
For its part, the new pen grants a few cool new abilities that unlock as you play. The first is the ability to surf along sheets of paper set up in the backgrounds of some stages. This is very unwieldy with the touch controls, but with a little practice you… probably still won’t get the hang of it, but you may learn to manage it. After felling the first boss, you’ll get the ability to shoot ink, which not only serves as a useful attack but also allows you to create platforms in certain spots. It also adds another set of virtual buttons on your screen, so I hope you weren’t using that screen real estate for anything in particular. Eventually, you’ll get one more cool technique to use with your pen that will help you zip past enemies. I found the shooting added the most to the game and the paper-riding felt the most gimmicky, but your mileage may vary.
In addition to the copious amounts of bonus stages, there are some other extras built in here as well. You can do some time challenges and play the World 1 Remix from previous Fancy Pants games. Sadly, the four-player multiplayer option has been cut in the mobile version, but that was hardly unexpected I suppose. The amount of content is still quite good, and you can look forward to at least a few hours of fun even if you’re fairly skilled. Scale that number up as your skill goes down and your desire to get all the hats and pants goes up. I understand this may be a complicated math problem that you don’t want to deal with right now. Let’s just simplify things and say that there is a fair amount of things to do here, but you will still probably want more when it’s over with.
The controls can be a little busy if you’re relying on touch. Everything is mapped to virtual buttons and while the developers were thorough, it means you’re going to have to keep the locations of a lot of things sorted in your head if you don’t want to keep looking down. Jumping and sliding have their own buttons, attacking is on its own button with extra buttons to attack up and down, and shooting ink also has its own button with buttons around it. It works with practice, apart from that irritating paper-riding anyway, but if you’re the sort that gets a little tender when you see more than two virtual buttons in a UI, you’re not going to have a good time here. Hopefully if you are that sort, you’ve bought yourself one of those fancy pants MFi controllers. Congratulations! This game supports those, and your problems are now magically dispensed with.
Super Fancy Pants Adventure looks and sounds pretty nice, with some slick animations, a smooth framerate, and music that only really seems to get annoying when you can’t clear a particular challenge stage. That’s probably on you. I had a couple of crashes on my way through, but the game was diligent about saving my progress so I didn’t lose anything important either time. The story tying everything together is amusing enough, and the level themes change up frequently enough to keep your eyes interested.
If you enjoyed the last Fancy Pants Adventure on iOS, you’ve probably already jumped on this one. If for some reason you haven’t jumped on it and are waiting for a stranger to push you, consider yourself pushed. You’ll have a good time. If you haven’t played any of these before but enjoy a good platformer, I can assure that this is indeed one of those. If you do not like platformers at all and spit in the direction of Shigeru Miyamoto and/or Yuji Naka and/or Michel Ancel anytime you can confirm their whereabouts, I’m not sure why you are reading this and don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe the missing piece was fancy-looking pants all along? You could give it a try. The virtual controls can be a bit of a bear with everything Mr. Fancy Pants can do, but everything else is quite solid.