The Fancy Pants Adventure Preview

We slip and slide all over the place in this eccentric platformer.

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The Fancy Pants Adventure is a game about pants. More specifically, fancy pants. Well, at least that's the goal. You don't start out the game with fancy pants. In fact, the pants you begin the game with are downright plain. All solid colors and whatnot. But the more time you spend with this eccentric 2D platformer, the more pants you unlock. We're talking plaid pants, striped pants…you name it. All the pants you can imagine!

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Yes, The Fancy Pants Adventure is an extremely silly game. If you dig below the surface, however, what you've got is a fairly straightforward core: It's a 2D side-scrolling platformer in which you attempt to run and jump in a generally left-to-right direction across a variety of treacherous levels. But layered on top of all of that is a thick smattering of ridiculousness. Fancy Pants, based on a free Flash game by then-college student Brad Borne, is presented in a hand-drawn stick-figure art style that feels more than a little bit like you're peering at someone's notebook doodles. The controls are also quite different from most platformers because building momentum speed plays a huge role in how you move about the levels--you're basically sliding all over the place as though running on ice.

Completing levels earns you random rewards, such as clothing and accessories, for you to outfit your little stick-figure avatar. There are the aforementioned fancy pants that come in all manner of patterns and colors, but there are also hats and handheld weapons. At one point, we defied all logic by rolling with a character decked out in plaid pants, a wizard hat, and a wooden sword, only to later switch to a frog hat, striped trousers, and a wooden pencil.

Adding a bit more eccentricity to the proceedings is the ability to play with up to four players at once. Anyone who has played co-op platformers like New Super Mario Bros. Wii will know that adding three more players to the screen can be more of a hindrance than help. But the entertainment value you get out of four players dashing across the screen, knocking each other over, and jumping off of one another's heads is well worth it. Fancy Pants offers levels that foster both antagonism and cooperation, including one level in which all four players try to kick a large golf ball across the length of the level and attempt to deposit it securely in the hole at the end. In each of these levels, you're competing for points that determine a final outcome in which the top three players stand atop a podium, each hoping to get first place because that's where the best clothing and accessories are most readily available.

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Having played the game, we can certainly attest to the delightful chaos that four-player co-op offers in The Fancy Pants Adventure. The overall experience is quite charming, and we're looking forward to seeing how the final game turns out when it's released this spring on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.

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