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Thursday, August 26 2004
It's Mr. Pants
Updated at 3:12 PM
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What is this all about?
Admit it: you didn't really think anything would come of it. But you were wrong. The time is upon us, my friends: the evidence that you've all been waiting for is here. It's Mr. Pants is real, and on its way to a GBA near you.
This is how it goes. Famous survey man, Pantsboard host, website 'mascot' and Rare game cameo celebrity Mr. Pants has taken some time off from his sideline in designer undergarments to set out a whole load of puzzles with which to engage and torment his fans. The result - also known as the handheld gaming event of the decade, possibly the century - is a lustrous diamond of a GBA cartridge, tantalising you with its range of different gameplay modes, difficulty settings, unlockable goodies and multiplayer options.
The central game mechanics are reassuringly simple, so that anyone from puzzle warlords to uncoordinated mouth-breathers can play. Mr. Pants drops pieces towards the board, and you shunt them into place to create shapes, which either earns you points or cancels out shapes already on the board (depending on the type of game you're playing). But! There are complications...
For a start, shapes have to be made in single colours, and pieces of the same colour can't be dropped on top of each other, either fully or partially. You can dump different colours on top of each other, which could kick off a crazy chain reaction if you're lucky or smart, but it could just as easily bring your progress to a grinding halt. Also, in some modes the sinister crayon snake slithers around the perimeter of the board, and will happily squirm into the middle and put an end to your game if you don't keep kicking him back. And there are combos! And bonuses! And multipliers! And secret shapes! And all sorts of different freaky backgrounds!
In single-player you can choose from Puzzle, Wipeout and Marathon modes, which - respectively - challenge you to solve existing puzzles with a pre-selected stack of shapes, clear a messed-up board in two minutes flat, or see what kind of score you can amass in five minutes (while the crafty crayon snake tries to crash the party). Cleared Puzzle mode levels unlock new exhibits in Mr. Pants' exclusive Art Gallery, which will either delight or horrify you, depending on what you think of the game's stylised look. Meanwhile, the multiplayer department showcases two separate games (Marathon Maul and Concrete Capers) which provide tests of endurance, skill, foresight and sheer bloody-mindedness for two to four linked-up players. Also featuring Mrs. Pie!
There's more to tell, but frankly if you've got any interest at all in puzzlers, Mr. Pants or remaining a valued member of society, you should go and pick up the game when it's released by THQ later this year. It'll keep you going until your own pants shrivel up and disintegrate.