No Pat, it's not a joke. Rare's GBA team is planning to turn out a puzzle game based on its Mr. Pants mascot at some point this year, with THQ on board to publish. Dubbed "It's Mr Pants", it's basically a retooled version of a game called DK Coconut Crackers, which appeared on Nintendo's E3 stand as long ago as 2001, then disappeared. Only now it has squiggly animations, crayon backgrounds and, er, Mr Pants sings the odd song between levels.
Although it's an odd project to be sure, it does sound like it could be quite good fun. You're faced with a square board and various coloured, square-edged shapes appear under your cursor - the idea being to arrange them together into rectangles of a certain size, at which point they disappear. You can of course rotate the pieces to suit your plans, and the idea is to clear the board in classic Tetris style.
Adding to the challenge, you can't place the same colours on top of one another, presumably because it'd be a lot easier to make rectangles with overlapping shapes, but you can overlap shapes with different colours, which is one way to remove them from play - and to queue up combos, apparently. The cartridge save system will record puzzle completed, best scores, and all the collectibles you've unlocked.
Video footage reveals a fairly simple but addictive-looking puzzle game, and we're certainly keen to have a bash. There should be a few modes to consider - one that involves removing all the shapes with a set amount of pieces, another where you get to use an infinite number but have to deal with a two-minute time limit, and an open-ended 'marathon' mode where you get to play to your heart's content.
Realistically, it's hard to see It's Mr Pants doing much for Rare's bottom line, but if you're into handheld puzzle games then it might well prove quite engaging. We look forward to it with open trousers.