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Super Fancy Pants Adventure review - A glorious freewheeling platformer

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad
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Anything but pants

Product: Super Fancy Pants Adventure | Publisher: Kongregate | Format: iPhone | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
If you're after a mobile equivalent to Super Mario Odyssey, don't bother with Super Mario Run.

Seriously, it's great, but the two have very little in common. Get Super Fancy Pants Adventure instead.

Kongregate's 2D platformer has got the freewheeling spirit, the weirdness, the secret-filled level design and the gloriously tactile jump physics down pat. Heck, it's even got a bunch of natty hats.

Drawing comparisons

Also like Nintendo's recent Switch masterpiece, Super Fancy Pants Adventure is a bit all over the place thematically.

You play a little squiggled stickman in a fairly generic and decidedly non-squiggly 2D world. Aesthetically, it feels like someone has made the game using some kind of 'make your own 2D platformer' tool - albeit one with a super-silky frame rate underpinning it.

But the way Super Fancy Pants Adventure feels is the thing here. By golly, it feels fantastic.

It's all built around an accumulative momentum system. Run and jump across a series of downward sloping platforms, and your last hop will be a hugely boosted, super-speedy affair.

This is the kind of thrillingly exaggerated, super-tactile 2D platforming the likes of which I've only really experienced before in N+.

Gotta bounce

The game plays with these intoxicatingly weighty movement mechanics in its level design. These are sprawling, multi-sectioned affairs that bombard you with fresh angles and surfaces to launch off.

At times, Super Fancy Pants Adventure feels more like a skateboarding game than a platform-adventure. There are ramps to 'trick' off, walls to bounce off, rails to grind, and sideways half-pipes to fling yourself around 180 degrees.

Levels are stitched together to form one near-continuous stream, and it feels like you can step from one to the next at several different points.

You'll probably miss a number of bonus challenge rooms (marked by a door and containing clothing-based rewards) and physics-toy diversions along the way, but it doesn't really matter.

Controlled landing

Our hero's movement is suitably fluid to suit such open levels. There's a whole roster of acrobatic parkour moves at your disposal, but all are context-sensitive and activated through a simple combination of left, right, jump and duck commands.

All of this could well have been for nought given the familiar pitfall of virtual controls. I won't say they're perfect - you simply can't beat a set of physical controls in a platformer - but they're just about as tight and reliable an approximation as you're likely to find on the App Store.

The developer has delineated the jump and slide controls from the up and down attack commands (our hero has a mean swing with a stick or giant pen) in such a way that I never found myself tripping over them. It all just works.

Even when the aforementioned pen is introduced, and you find yourself able to 'surf' it across paper backgrounds, the controls hit that sweet spot between precarious and precise.

Ooooh, fancy

It's difficult to encapsulate the Super Fancy Pants Adventure experience in a 500-word review, because it's not a tightly focused game. It's a whole bunch of ideas fed into a paint gun and fired at the wall.

That it all works despite the chaos and a slapdash aesthetic is down to its impeccably tuned physics and controls, and the simple fact that most of its ideas have been executed brilliantly.
Super Fancy Pants Adventure review - A glorious freewheeling platformer
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 25 January 2018
Super Fancy Pants Adventure is one of the most joyfully tactile mobile platformers around, underpinned by a thrilling sense of momentum
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