Have you ever wanted to surf using a pen? Well now you can.
You know that feeling you get when you ride a roller coaster? The breathless anticipation, followed by the shrieking joy and terror as you plummet down to the bottom?
That's the feeling I get when I ride the pen in Super Fancy Pants Adventure, an action-packed sidescrolling platformer.
Super Fancy Pants Adventure is the fourth instalment in the Fancy Pants series, but don't be intimidated if you're unfamiliar with the previous games. The story focuses on Fancy Pants Man, a stick figure who happens to wear what look like MC Hammer's pants.
While helping his sister find her lost cat, he discovers a new weapon: a pen, which you can use to slash up your enemies or ride up sheets of paper. His world is under siege by ink monsters who have emerged from an erupting volcano.
You must jump, twist, and battle your way through the 56 levels in order to reach the volcano and restore peace to the land. Along the way, you can collect swirls, which are the game's form of currency, and you can use said swirls to buy health and attack upgrades in the form of ice cream.
The Fancy Pants games emphasise smooth controls and tricks like wall jumping or backflipping. Unfortunately, there's no controller support. (Correction Sept 27 12:19 p.m - there is controller support for the game.) It's a bit tricky using the W, A, S, D keys on one side of the keyboard to use attacks and jump, and the arrow keys on the other side to move.
Nevertheless, the fast-paced nature of the game kept me cracking through level after level, swooping around curves, narrowly diving to the safety of moving platforms, and creating mayhem as I annihilated monsters. You can even play hacky-sack with defeated monsters by beating their corpses as many times as you can before they fall off the map.
In this area, you have to glide up this bar, collect the swirls, and then jump over to that sheet of paper which you can ride with your pen.
The game's quick pace and forward momentum might explain why I barely noticed there were collectibles. The stages contain various doors that hide secret challenge levels. I went through one and gave up almost immediately — they don't call them "challenge levels" for nothing.
My greatest difficulty came in navigating a level that asked me to sprint through enemies and then jump. After falling to my death six times, I decided to spare myself the aggravation and just avoid all the doors to get through the game as quickly as possible.
I reached what I thought was the final boss, and, after quickly defeating it, prematurely rejoiced. Then my map popped up and showed me that out of all the stages I had cleared, I had not gotten a single item.
Not my proudest moment.
While this game definitely encourages you to go fast — and boy, is it fun to go fast — I was humbly reminded of the importance of taking my time.
You can beat up ninjas and mice with your pen, unleashing powerful combo attacks. You can even beat up their corpses, if you're into that sort of thing.
Later, I learned that you don't need the items in order to reach the end of the game; they're just cool hats and pants that you can use to customise your character. Before I realised that, I tried to investigate if there was something else to the game that I was missing.
I hopped around to different levels, and when I revisited the volcano level, I found that things were covered in more slimy ink than I remembered. After progressing through, I found the game's final boss. So, the game didn't end where I previously thought it did.
Super Fancy Pants adventure is a fairly short game that you can beat in under a couple of hours. While going back to the challenge levels just to get the items may sound like a bummer to some, I'm eager to get more out of the game than I thought I would. At any rate, it will be a great game for speedrunning.
You can buy Super Fancy Pants Adventure on Steam.