McPixel
Gameplay 9
Graphics 7
Sound 7

McPixel is a puzzle game parody of MacGuyver in which players are given twenty seconds to save the day and disarm some type of explosive. The catch is that the solution is often illogical or bizarre and usually requires more luck or trial and error than puzzle-solving skills. Nevertheless, the game is entertaining and offers a ton of content, along with a level editor. While it won’t appeal to everyone, McPixel is far better than the visuals might make you think.

Gameplay: The game is a lot of fun but best played in short bursts.

Graphics: Even with the various filter options, the visuals won’t win any awards.

Sound: The soundtrack is catchy but highly repetitive

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McPixel

Developer: Sos Sosowski | Publisher: Sos Sosowski | Release Date: 2012 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

McPixel, the pixelated protagonist of the game that bears his name, is not your typical puzzle game hero. Like MacGuyver, he’s tasked with saving the day, but in the most bizarre situations imaginable. Unlike MacGuyver, he’s given a mere twenty seconds to prevent a catastrophe. There’s no linear storyline, and logic often takes a backseat, but this unique gameplay is what makes McPixel surprisingly entertaining.

McPixel offers players four chapters, each with three levels and six puzzles per level. The goal of each puzzle is to prevent an explosive device from detonating, but half the time, players are not even shown what it is or where it’s hidden before it’s too late. Instead, the puzzle begins, and players only have twenty seconds to assess the bizarre situation they are presented with. Initially, most players will try out the most logical course of action. For example, when in a plane with a snake and a bomb, one would think that throwing the bomb out of the plane would be the solution. Unfortunately, instead of picking up the bomb when clicking on it, McPixel instead kicks it into the snake’s mouth, where it detonates. The solution, obviously, is to pick up the shovel hanging from the wall first and then kick the bomb into the snake’s mouth before bashing it in all the way, where it will safely detonate inside the snake. This is still one of the more straightforward scenarios as the game becomes much more surreal. 

McPixel reminds us of the early and often illogical puzzles found in point-and-click adventures. These games, often by Sierra or more obscure developers, sometimes contained puzzles so far outside the box that they left players shaking their heads in bewilderment. Even worse were the ones that punished players for making a mistake. McPixel takes this concept and then combines it with a WarioWare-style time limit. Logically, this shouldn’t work, but somehow it does, albeit in short bursts. Since logic is out the window, the solutions to most puzzles come down to trial and error. Fortunately, failing is not just expected but usually rewarded with some funny animations. 

Visually, McPixel lives up to its name with some of the largest pixels on the market to date. Players can use various filter options to ease the strain on their eyes, but none will make the game look pretty. Of course, this was done intentionally, and the visuals are not without their charm, but it takes a while to adjust to the style. Thanks to the pixelated visuals, McPixel can also get away with including lots of pop culture references and crude humor. Not only does Batman show up for many of the puzzles, but many solutions involve urinating on things or shoving bombs up orifices. The latter would have looked even more horrifying with better visuals, so the pixelated style greatly helps in this regard. Despite the simple visuals, the animations are humorous, but some scenes are so bizarre it can take a few seconds to fully register what is being depicted. 

The audio in McPixel is just as basic as the visuals, and most puzzles feature a variation of the same repetitive tune. The game also lacks sound effects, and the only speech is a sample of the title. Players can move McPixel around the scenes by clicking where to go and clicking on an object causes him to interact with it in some way. Unfortunately, these interactions are erratic, and there’s no way to predict his actions. Clicking on a bomb in one puzzle might cause McPixel to kick it and fail the level as it explodes, while in another, he will pick it up so it can be used on something or someone else. This lack of internal consistency might annoy some players, but those who can make peace with the game being about the journey and not the destination will have fun. Due to the pixelated visuals, it can sometimes be hard to spot which objects players can interact with, and the game also lacks any hotspot indicators. Failing a puzzle immediately moves players on to the next one in the level and this loop continues until all of them are solved. This means players must remember what they did wrong to avoid repeating the same mistake when the level loops back. 

McPixel is a very fun game, but it is also best played in short bursts. The combination of basic visuals, repetitive music, and often nonsensical puzzles can cause fatigue if played too long. While the “story mode” can be completed relatively quickly, the game has plenty of incentives for players to return. Although it lacks Steam Achievements, players are rewarded with bonus levels if they manage to solve three puzzles in a row. Returning to already completed chapters also tasks players with finding all the gags instead of the solutions. In addition, there’s some bonus content to unlock and an endless mode that cycles through all the puzzles. Last but not least, McPixel ships with a level editor and access to a ton of free DLC. Some of the best DLC packs are by the game developer, but there are also some community packs of varying quality. Since the game is so simple to play, the manual is 27 pages of instructions on creating your own levels using the editor.

Turning illogical point-and-click adventure-style puzzles into a mini-game has no right to be this entertaining, but somehow, McPixel manages to pull it off. The visuals, audio, and warped sense of humor ensure that this game will not appeal to everyone. However, players willing to give it a chance will find a wealth of funny and engaging puzzles for a very modest asking price. 

System Requirements

  • OS *:Windows XP
  • Processor:Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64
  • Memory:512 MB RAM
  • Graphics:Pixel-art capable graphics card
  • DirectX®:9.0b
  • Hard Drive:70 MB HD space
  • Sound:Stereo sound card
  • OS *:Windows Vista
  • Processor:Intel Core 2 Duo or Athlon X2
  • Memory:1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics:Pixel-art-with-filters capable graphics card
  • DirectX®:9.0b
  • Hard Drive:71 MB HD space
  • Sound:Stereo sound card
  • OS:OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard
  • Processor:Core 2 Duo
  • Memory:512 MB RAM
  • Graphics:Pixel-art capable graphics card
  • Hard Drive:70 MB HD space
  • Sound:Stereo sound card
  • OS:OS X 10.7 Lion
  • Processor:Core 2 Duo
  • Memory:1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics:Pixel-art-with-filters capable graphics card
  • Hard Drive:71 MB HD space
  • Sound:Stereo sound card

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