At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Dave Wickham Gameboy Advance THQ Rare 1 Here
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
N/A Click here to buy It's Mr Pants.

It's Mr Pants review

Some of you might know Mr Pants as Rare's site mascot. If you have no idea who he is (like the majority of people), picture a stick man wearing nothing but underpants and a bowler hat. Right, now that we've set the tone for the whole game...

It's Mr Pants was originally planned to be a somewhat sensible puzzle title, based on the Donkey Kong brand. Once Microsoft entered the scene, though, this obviously had to change. So, what's the best thing to do when you've just lost a strong brand? Why, choose perhaps the least-known, perhaps most silly brand you own, changing the game to match in the process, of course!

Enough about the seriousness of the game; let's move on to the game play. First off, let me tell you that if you can't stand puzzle games, you can stop reading here. It's Mr Pants isn't for you. The objective of the game is fairly hard to describe in simple terms; you make same-coloured shapes dissapear by placing Tetris-inspired blocks on a grid and forming rectangles and sqaures. Blocks of differing colours can also be placed on each other, which can be confusing to start with, but is a lifesaver later on. Confused yet? I don't blame you, but don't let that worry you; once you've got the hang of it, it becomes easy to remember how to play.

There are three game modes in It's Mr Pants: Puzzle, Wipeout, and Marathon, each with different difficulty levels. “Puzzle” consists of various pictures made out of blocks, which you have to clear with the limited number of pieces provided. “Wipeout” mode is like Puzzle mode, only without the nice pictures and you're against the clock, rather than having to work with a limited number of pieces. Finally, “Marathon” mode starts you off with a clean field to fill with your pieces, with a five minute time limit to gain as many points as you can... but beware: there's a “snake” (their word, not mine) going around the edges to thwart your progress, eating your blocks as it gets larger. Making shapes sends it back a fair few notches, but before you know it it'll be back for more. If it gets to the middle, then you've lost, simple as that.

Puzzle mode has a somewhat clunky hint system built in, which is enabled after your fourth go at a puzzle. Although it is useful to get a start on puzzles where you haven't a clue what to do, sometimes it can be infuriating; for example, sometimes it will take the piece which has been placed in a good location, which does need to go there, then move it to where it's been told that it must go, not helping you in the least – in these cases it's just a guess as to which place it wants to go in, as the system has no concept of multiple possible locations.

Moving on to the game's superficial qualities, from almost the second you turn the GBA on, you know what the graphics and audio are going to be like. First you're greeted by a slightly Dick Van Dyke-esque English accent, with a THQ logo drawn in a way reminicent of Roobarb and Custard, followed by a Rare logo with the R wearing a pair of pants. Wherever Rare got their inspiration for this from, I'm sure it's not legal.

The graphical style used throughout the game is very colourful, and so fits the dark screen of the GBA well (for those people like me who still have the original); it's certainly no Castlevania, for anyone who remembers trying to play that with anything less than perfect lighting.

Audio-wise, It's Mr Pants is packed full of voice samples, although these are mostly used in the menus rather than while actually playing. In the music department, It's Mr Pants is fairly simple, consisting of simple, repetitive, catchy tunes which fit the style of game well.

Of course, there's one important question that I've not answered yet: is the game actually fun to play? At first when I picked it up, I found it rather boring, probably because I just didn't understand what you were supposed to do. That quickly went, to be replaced by a state whereby if I closed my eyes, my brain would be solving an It's Mr Pants puzzle. Really. Yes, I can safely say that (as long as you like this kind of game, of course) it's fun.

Ratings

Graphics Nice and colourful for high visibility, and done in a manner which doesn't require pixel-perfect quality. 8/10
Gameplay A fun puzzle game, as long as you're into that kind of thing (and if you're not, I told you to stop reading ages ago!) 7/10
Value The game is fairly cheap from some places now, so coupled with the lifespan, value for money is good. 7/10
Lifespan As with most puzzle games, the lifespan is basically “until you get bored”. 8/10
Audio Catchy music, plenty of voice samples for the menus. 7/10
Overall A fun game to fill in short periods of time you may have free, to just play casually, or even to play for hours at a time. 8/10

Click here to buy It's Mr Pants from Amazon.co.uk.

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