It's Mr. Pants!
Hey, it's Mr. Pants! Who is Mr. Pants? He's the star of one of the better puzzle games you can (try to) find on the GBA.
This past weekend I had quite the personal dilemma, for you see, my favorite pair of blue jeans had a pretty huge hole in the right butt cheek region. I found out about this fairly large oversight while in San Francisco, but it's not like I discovered it before someone caught a peek at my boxers. Therefore, it's quite conceivable that numerous people saw Buff... well... in the buff! Something had to be done to correct this wardrobe malfunction, so I did the only thing a half naked man could do: go to the store and buy more pants!
Personally I could care less about the hole in my now garbage-bound pants, but as you know, we live in a fickle society that screams for some people to take their clothes off while it pleads with others to put them back on, and I fall into the latter category, but I wish it didn't have to be that way. I wish we all acted more like Rare's Mr. Pants, a rather rotund man who wears a derby, a bright red pair of underwear, and nothing else, and he's damn proud of that! Truth be told, I admire the man.
Normally I'd take a look at those previous two paragraphs and immediately delete them because in retrospect what in the hell does my butt hanging out of a pair of old pants have to do with a puzzle game entitled It's Mr. Pants? The answer, my friends, is absolutely nothing, but as you'll hopefully learn the second you get your hands on this GBA labor of love, nothing about it makes a damn bit of sense, which is only part of the reason why It's Mr. Pants is one of best puzzle games that you'll play.
Way back when Rare and Nintendo were in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G there was a GBA title in development called Coconut Crackers, a puzzler starring Donkey Kong and friends. Flash forward just a bit, and Rare's working with Microsoft, meaning that it could no longer work with the DK license. Hence, Coconut Crackers was no more. However, the basic concept behind the game remained intact. All it needed was a new main character, the lovable but never huggable Mr. Pants.
The object of It's Mr. Pants is to make blocks disappear, which really isn't anything new to the world of puzzle games, but this one accomplishes its goals in a unique and highly-addictive way. In the game you're presented with a multicolored shape (or shapes), and you're given several smaller shapes of varying sizes, the object being to group like colors together in order to make them vanish. For example, if you see a thin green rectangle on screen and your next available shape is a thin green rectangle of equal size you should group it together to make one larger rectangle, whereupon which the shape will disappear and you'll have cleared the board.
Of course, it's a lot more complicated than that. The game loves to group shapes together in a mess of different patterns including triangles and even a train, and you're only able to place a certain amount of shapes (in a time limit) before you fail, so not only do you need to identify patterns and make quick decisions, but It's Mr. Pants also requires you to think outside of the box. If you have, let's say, a house that's made up of different colored blocks and you only have seven miscellaneous blocks to work with (you're able to rotate them with the L and R buttons) you may need to get acquainted with the continue button. While you'll probably coast along for the first few puzzles, by level 14 it's not uncommon to get stuck and blow through 35 continues until you get it right.
It's Mr. Pants has a few game modes to mess around with. Puzzle Game is your standard, present you with a shape, throw some additional pieces at you and let you clear all of the blocks mode, but there's also Wipeout Game (clear a jumbled mess off the screen before the timer runs out), and finally Marathon Game, where you need to clear a screen before a crayon snake wraps itself around the entire board. Each of these modes presents you with a unique challenge and is very enjoyable, making It's Mr. Pants an all around quality puzzle title that doesn't really have any weaknesses.
In terms of personality, It's Mr. Pants is gushing with the stuff. Rare basically went absolutely bonkers with this game, though it's pretty obvious that the developers didn't exactly burn the midnight oil designing the character or his environment. Mr. Pants is a jovial fellow who loves to juggle and say crazy stuff like "Pants away!" and "Pants on!" He lives in Pants Land, and he supposedly earns a living through his exclusive underwear contracts. He also has a friend named Helpo, a light bulb that appears after you've screwed up a lot, but all he'll do is tell you where to place one or two pieces, leaving you to complete the hard stuff yourself.
In a surprise twist this game has a tremendous amount of speech for the GBA title, so much so that it never shuts up! From the THQ logo where all you hear is "It's Mr. Pants" to our main man's agonizing scream after you screw up (though I also can't help from laughing when he says "Eww Smelly!"), this is one vocal game, but the many voice samples only add to its charm.
When it comes to complaints, the biggest negative about this game is it's almost impossible to find! Although it supposedly released in the U.S. last December, no store that you go to will have heard of it. It's Mr. Pants is available on Ebay for double its MSRP, though I recommend checking out websites such as Walmart.com, which, as of this writing, has the game in stock.
At the end of the day, a man needs a place to hang his pants, but thank the game gods that Mr. Pants has no such place, since... umm... him any more naked than he already is would be quite a ghastly sight! Seriously though, if you can track down a copy of It's Mr. Pants buy it immediately. It's not that it's the greatest puzzle game on the market, but it's pretty damn addictive, and it makes you think in ways that games such as Tetris and Lumines don't. Plus, it's super rare, so it won't be available forever. I'm just happy that Rare's been working on something, even if it's about a fat underwear model who loves to dance.
What's Hot: Very unique in style and tone, and one of the best puzzlers on the GBA.
What's Not: It seems like a very difficult game to get a hold of... keep trying!