When I think back to games from my childhood, most of them had one thing in common: it didn’t matter whether you were an Italian plumber, a bounty hunter in space or some kind of elvish hero in a magical world – you always have to save the day. McPixel skips the theatrics, the puzzles and even the fanfare and cuts right to the chase. The question is, do we want it to?
McPixel is a retro-inspired point and click puzzler which places the player in a series of high pressure situations, always involving some form of explosive, and giving you twenty seconds to literally save the day. The puzzles range from silly to downright absurd as you make your way through “Chapters” which contain three rounds of six puzzles each. The player is instantly thrown into an absurd situation, with no idea how to solve the issue at hand and only twenty seconds on the clock to come up with a solution. Failure on the first, second and third attempts is almost guaranteed, with some puzzles requiring more trial and error than should be expected from a single play session.
“If you think defiling a cow with a bone is “funny” then McPixel and a psychiatric evaluation should be on your “To Do” list today.”
Often there is no logic to the solutions of these puzzles, leaving the player to guess exactly what the developer was trying to achieve. One particular puzzle that sticks out in my mind took place on top of a volcano. I was presented with a cow, a girl, a bone and a note that said, “insert virgin”. Click the girl and McPixel throws her into the volcano and you fail. Click the cow, nothing happens. Throw the bone into the volcano and you are met with failure again. Click the bone, use the bone on the cow and McPixel defiles the poor animal which then has a love heart above his head before failure arrives again. The solution: throw yourself and your dignity into the volcano and save the day.
From a presentation standpoint, McPixel joins the ranks as another retro throwback to the golden era of gaming. Bright colours and retro sounds fill the screen as the soundtrack pushes you along with a sense of urgency that suits the mood perfectly. This isn’t going to push your system to the limits, and it isn’t a new-age attempt at pixel art beauty, but rather a raw rendition of genuine retro appeal.
However, all this pixel love isn’t enough to carry the game on its own two feet. Despite the disclaimer when you boot up the game warning that McPixel is intended to be played in short bursts, the constant and often ridiculous mish-mash of nostalgia, pop culture references and statements that I simply cannot understand make it impossible for me to recommend this to anyone other then the truly hardcore of hardcore indie gamers.