8-bit crotch-kicking, amateur hero madness.
Platform: Commodore 64, Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android, Linux
You arrive on a tropical island with 20 seconds left to stop a dynamite wedged in a hotdog bun from exploding; killing hundreds of tourists in the process. The bushes rustle behind you. You look to discover an alien smoking, craving some food to eat. 15 seconds. Quickly, you grab the bun and use the tomato sauce and mustard bottles from a hotdog stand on your right to compliment the hotdog. 9 seconds. You hurl the hotdog at the alien, resulting in the dynamite exploding in his mouth and the alien requesting more sauce. You are McPixel, and you saved the day.
McPixel is a hilarious point-and-click adventure game that sees you take control of the titled protagonist over 100 levels of madness where your primary goal is to stop a ‘bomb’ from exploding within 20 seconds. The player can manipulate the MacGyver-esque protagonist over four chapters, each divided into three levels that individually feature six scenarios where McPixel must kick, barter, run, leap, wield an axe and bait people with money to diffuse each situation.
In each scenario, there are many items and people McPixel can interact with. Half the fun of McPixel is to experiment with the combinations of these items, people and even McPixel himself to prevent the bomb from exploding and progress to the next level. A hand axe, a doctor, a dressing rack and a window, for instance, can be combined in many ridiculous ways in an attempt to solve a puzzle. Experimentation in McPixel rewards the player with memorable, and sometimes absurd, gags that may leave you laughing uncontrollably.
Interestingly, the solutions to the puzzles seem to be quite simple. Most solutions involve simple one-to-two click combinations of items or people and the player can sit back and admire their crude handiwork. In the earlier levels, the features of the episode are more explicit to the player, making it easier for them to identify the bomb and usable items. In later chapters, the bomb can be disguised as someone’s afro or tree branch and items for interaction can be masked by the pixel art landscape which can lead to frustration when you are all out of ideas.
However, the point-and-click gameplay married with a time limit and a recurring soundtrack helps combat this frustration by continuously guiding the player to the next incomplete episode to attempt. The 20 second time limit leads you to adapt a trial-and-error approach. You input your latest crazy string of actions and wait to see your end product. If you fail, you at least get to witness a gag and then you are whisked to the next episode, leaving you time to generate your next approach. The ability to access the extra levels featured on the main menu requires you to complete all gags in each episode, which is a good way to reward the player for persevering and replaying the levels.
McPixel’s art style really adds to the retro feel. Its 8-bit, bright, pixel aesthetic compliments the zany nature of the content. Matched with the highly repetitive and catchy game music and the sheer pace of the game, you could lose an hour or two in witnessing McPixel’s adventures.
Aside from story mode, McPixel boasts an Extras Mode, DLC and an Endless Mode. Features of Extra Mode are revealed after McPixel has achieved gold on each level (by viewing all gags) that encourages replays. Contrary to many modern games that like to charge players for DLC (ahem – SimCity), McPixel’s crude adventures continue with in the free DLC mode, where you can access more episodes for some bizarre, bomb-diffusing goodness.
Endless Mode pushes your amateur detective skills to the limit as you play a stream of levels to get your McPixel fix. There is also a level creator mode for McPixel, where the limits to your imagination can be truly expressed through your own brand of McPixel humour.
At a price point of $4.99 US (approx. $5 AUS) on Steam as well as being available on Windows, Mac, Linux, and other devices; McPixel is a great budget game that can provide you with a special brand of hilarious moments at home or on your daily commute that no other game can offer. Just lose yourself in the illogical madness that is McPixel, and you’ll never be the same.