Monday, December 22, 2008

The Christmas Review - Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2

Well, it's that time of year again. The time when even I stop spraying a stream of vitriol and obscenities at a bunch of pixels on an online gaming site. Yes, it's the annual Christmas Review, where I actually write about a game I like for a change! And oh, what a game do I have.

For a long time, my favourite game was Fancy Pants Adventures. I don't just mean my favourite online game - with it's charming visuals, wry sense of humour and addictive gameplay, it outclassed many of the titles lining shelves in Gamestops across the world. So when Brad Borne, the genius behind Mr Fancy Pants, produced Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2, I knew it would live up to its predecessor. What I didn't expect was for it to surpass the original in almost every way.

For those of you who loved the first Fancy Pants Adventure, the second immediately reminds you why so many hours were lost playing what is, in essence, a stick figure Sonic the Hedgehog. Having just capped off a game of Fancy Golfball (which demands a spin-off all of its own), Mr Fancy Pants is rewarded with an ice cream.

But, oh no! What's this? A giant angry rabbit has stolen your ice cream! You must chase after him and retrieve it!

The plot is, in a word, ridiculous. But that's what we love about Fancy Pants - it doesn't take itself too seriously, and the jokes don't insult our intelligence. Most importantly, none of the trimmings overshadow the real meat in the centre of all this - that is, a wonderful platform game.

The spiders will be your biggest concern throughout the game. The only other bad guys are the mice that fire squiggles at you and the snails (whose shells you can play Fancy Golfball with.) The spiders aren't difficult, but they are numerous, and they do leave a nasty mark should you run into one.

And running is what you'll be doing, rushing from one end of the level to the other. Sometimes your own momentum will be the only thing that gets you to the end, as you jump, slide, roll and sail through the air. The gameplay can be as fast and furious as you want it to be, but if you want to explore every part of every level, you'll need to be a little less cautious.

There are numerous secret zones where you can find trophies and other treats. Sometimes these places are as large and interesting as the main levels. And sometimes they're just freaking weird, like this beehive with a pet man.

I said Brad Borne was a genius, I never said he was "all there."

At almost three times the size of the original, Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2 plays host to a variety of environments, all with their own special quirks, each one as exquisitely drawn as the last. So few games get the mix of great visuals and great gameplay right; FPA 2 has both in abundance. The controls are so simple that even the most computer illiterate, hopeless non-gamer could get the hang of it and soon find themselves bouncing off walls, somersaulting over cliffs and hanging from ziplines.

There's only one boss fight, but then why would you want to fight anybody other than that rotten rabbit who stole your prize? It's a great tussle, too, involving no small amount of skill, luck and ingenuity.

And though you'll probably die multiple times, it never gets annoying to the point where you want to hurl your computer across the room. if you do lose all of your lives, you can simply skip to the final level from the main menu, saving you the hassle of having to play all the way through again.

But if you find that you actually want to play the whole game again, I won't be surprised. Highly addictive, nice to look at, and with a sense of intelligence and humour that most other games lack - Fancy Pants Adventure: World 2 is the game that all other online content has to beat.

I'll be back in the New Year with a normal, hate-filled review. In the meantime, go play Planet Platformer 2, and think of how much fun I'm going to have writing that review.

Happy Christmas!

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