McPixel may be little more than a combination of elements from two dissimilar genres, but this amalgamation makes up for a really entertaining experience nonetheless.
“Warning: it is highly recommended to take breaks while playing this game. Longer play sessions can damage your game and gameplay experience.” This is the phrase that welcomes you every time you launch McPixel, a bizarre title that combines elements from the point-and-click adventure genre with WarioWare’s style of gameplay. But what do you need to know before you start playing? There is a level, you have twenty seconds to beat it, there is a bomb and the main objective is to prevent it from exploding by clicking on objects or NPCs. Go!
Would you like a more thorough description? The game is divided into chapters and each chapter is divided into six stages. These 2D environments represent different minigames that need to be completed in twenty seconds or less. A level is considered beaten once McPixel, the game’s main protagonist and obvious parody of MacGyver, has found and defused a bomb. To do so, the player needs to interact with various objects and characters (by the way, the way in which McPixel interacts with people is by kicking them in the groin.)
Whether you win or fail, you move on to the next puzzle. Puzzles that have been beaten are removed from the cycle, but you continue playing the failed ones until you’ve beaten all of them. Each of the chapters has a hidden fourth round that can only be unlocked once all the gags in the chapter have been found. In addition, successfully completing three levels in a row grants access to a ludicrous bonus level. This is everything you need to know about McPixel. But while the premise of the game may appear quite simple, you’d be surprised how terribly engaging McPixel can become.
While the overall gameplay encourages you to replay the same levels over and over until you find the not-so-obvious solutions, the game is seldom repetitive, mainly because the levels last only a few seconds long. Nevertheless, sometimes you’ll need to rely on trial-and-error to proceed. Thankfully, the feeling of never knowing what’s going to happen next is both exhilarating and deeply engaging. Don’t get me wrong, there will be times when you’ll have no idea what you should be doing next, but once you’ve retried the same minigame a few times, the solution starts becoming clearer and clearer. How does the game reward your efforts? Mc Pixel will make you laugh… a lot.
While I don’t find the image of a pixelated character “dry-humping” a PlayStation 3 absolutely hilarious, the filthy and juvenile humor is so dumb, that it’ll make you chuckle quite often. It also helps that there are myriad references not only to video games, but also to films, books, TV series and popular culture in general. For instance, in one level you are fighting Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat and on the following one you are riding a train with Mario, Batman and Darth Vader. In one level the Powerpuff Girls are fighting a gargantuan monster and in another one McPixel is passionately making out with Obama in the White House. The diverse puzzles give the impression that anything can happen, because so often does. And believe me when I tell you that most levels are absolutely and utterly absurd.
In addition to the main story mode (which is composed of four chapters) there are some bonus modes, including Endless Mode and extra levels in the form of Free DLC. The main mode is quite short (it should take you around three hours to complete it, depending on your style of play,) so the inclusion of these additional modes is more than welcome. But despite its brevity, I don’t think a longer experience would have resulted in a better game.
It’s worth noting that some chapters aren’t readily available and the only way to unlock them is by getting a gold medal on all the previous levels of the same chapter. The first time I attempted such task, I had no idea what I was supposed to do to get a hundred percent completion, but after reading a FAQ on the game’s official site, I realized that I needed to find all the gags in a given minigame. To be fair, this is explained early in the game, but since you spin through levels pell-mell, sometimes it’s easy to miss some explanations.
Completionists who take the time to obtain enough gold medals will unlock a few extras, including Create Mode, McPixel Fart Along and McPixel Social. As its name indicates, Create Mode allows you to create levels and submit them so that the developer can publish them. McPixel Fart Along is a very simple rhythm minigame in which you need to match the protagonist’s farts to make some silly melodies. Finally, Mc Pixel Social is an online lobby of sorts where you can chat with other players.
Something that I couldn’t avoid thinking while I was playing McPixel is that even though the PC version of the game is really well done, the short nature of the levels seems perfectly suitable for portable platforms. Therefore, some players will be glad to hear that iOS and Android versions are also available.
Another point that I think is worth bringing up is the fact that most levels allow you to perform one interaction only which can lead to some frustrating moments. Thankfully, the level cycle rotates quite fast, allowing you to have another opportunity at a particular puzzle in a few seconds.
McPixel may be little more than a combination of elements from two dissimilar genres, but this amalgamation makes up for a really entertaining experience nonetheless. It’s worth noting that there are some issues here and there: the juvenile humor may rub some people the wrong way, the breakneck action can get too hectic at times, the game is too short and some puzzles are harder than they should. In the end and despite these issues, McPixel is an experience you won’t find anywhere else.