How about a bowl of McGyver, WarioWare and Guybrush Threepwood to go?
McPixel is the kind of game that could only turn up on touchscreen devices, and only make a proper profit in the App Store. If I had to put it in a folder on my iPad, or iPhone it would sit alongside EnviroBear 2010 and Organ Trail. Games that are either too wicked, or too indie to be invited to indie game parties. McPixel takes the crown in this category, pisses on it and shoves it up an cow’s arse after smacking Abe Lincoln on the head with a pirates wooden leg.
So what the heck is a McPixel? Well think McGyver, the A-Team or the team in Mission Impossible and then forget about them. McPixel is a problem solver not really relying on brains, but rather on his uncanny ability to just go with his gut, feet and whatever he holds in his hands. He is the ultimate action hero in that sense, as he is all action and all fearless.
The game is divided into four main chapters, each divided into three parts, each divided into six scenes. It might sound odd that I mention the structure in such detail, but it is an integral part of the gaming experience. You get reminded constantly of the scenes you are currently solving. Between each you get to see icons for all, and as they get solved they get marked with white for solved, and gold if you have done all interactions possible before solving the scene.
When you enter a scene in McPixel you have twenty seconds, and four to six actions to perform. Only one, or two of these lead to a correct result and all others have a disastrous consequence. This might sound easy, but it is not. First of all you get the WarioWare syndrome of trying to figure out what to do before time runs out. Nil desperandum there is always enough time, but WarioWare syndrome has probably made you touch something to mess it all up. Not aware of WarioWare syndrome? It is what happens to people under stress where they perform an action before knowing what is appropriate.
The solutions to the scenes in McPixel are not about timing, but rather about finding the most logical solution in a completely illogical situation controlling a hero that is not afraid to kick bombs or sexually molest cows. At times you have to venture out of the scene to find the solution, such as looking for a cloud of smoke where an alien is smoking pot in a shrubbery.
The game starts with a disclaimer to warn you that you might go nuts playing McPixel for too long. This is truly appropriate, as it is so intense. Imagine playing four hours of The Secret of Monkey Island in under two minutes, and the the entire Simon the Sorcerer series in under five minutes just to have Day of the Tentacle in 90 seconds.
The presentation is brilliant, and suits the game perfectly. I can hum the bass lines repeating over, and over again within parts of the game, and found myself pivoting and rocking it out to the beat. When I do something really great in everyday life I scream out “MCPIXEL!!!” The graphics are all pixelated art done expertly to not give the solutions away. The characters are easily distinguishable no matter if they are our hero in red, Abe Lincoln, Buddha or Batman.
One might argue that because there are a limited number of scenes you learn them by heart, and therefore gamelife is limited. I would have bought that argument if I hadn’t played the lite first that gives you some of then scenes available in the full game. Beating the lite version I still didn’t ace the same scenes when they showed up in the full version. Furthermore it is fun to replay the same levels just for the zany, and often politically incorrect solutions. For crying out loud it is fun just to select level when McPixel gets smacked about by a ticket inspector, or kicking his older self in the nuts.
I can’t give more praise to McPixel than words allow, but by golly this is brilliant. Combining the pace of WarioWare with the puzzles found in Secret of Monkey Island using a new unique character is creativity defined. We would never see such a game on any console, not even the handhelds from Sony and Nintendo. McPixel is simply too much fun, too much incorrect nonsense and too many new creative ideas too ever be part of the more corporately controlled platforms.
Try the lite version, buy the full version and name your firstborn son McPixel. It is that much fun, and to me this is a definite contender for a lot of nominations when the year will move towards the end. Now this review is done, and I can only say one thing to that: MCPIXEL!
McPixel $2.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Zany launch trailer