Developer: Sos - Publisher: Sos - Platforms: iOS, Android, PC - Release Date: September 25, 2012
Concept: Help a pixelated, double-parady of MacGyver and MacGruber save the day in a world suffering from an overabundance of live, hidden, explosives
Graphics: The 8-bit style is as crude as the humor itself
Sound: Hope you like hearing the same two or three tracks constantly because that's all you're getting
Playabilty: Touch something on screen, watch the hilarity unfold, repeat
Entertainment: McPixel is solid pick-up-and-go fun but fans looking for a serious adventure puzzler shouldn't touch it with a ten-foot finger
Replay Value: Moderate
Saving The Day, One Boom At A Time
Literally thousands of games are available for mobile devices but good luck finding anything as bizarre as McPixel. At it's core, it's basically a point-and-click puzzle game but what sets McPixel apart is it's heavy emphasis on arbitrary solutions and outlandish humor. McPixel is made of of dozens of short levels that each contain a hidden explosive. Players have twenty seconds diffuse the bomb and "save the day". Tapping objects and people on screen triggers a plethora of, to say the least, strange interactions.
Solutions are rarely straightforward and are often uncovered by triggering an insane chain of events. One puzzle took place at a circus that had a worker, some dude at a booth, and three cups. Dynamite was located under one of the cups but merely selecting the correct cup resulted in a fiery demise. The answer? Tap the circus worker which causes McPixel to unzip his pants and whiz on the poor dude's leg until he kicks him to the ground in disgust. McPixel, still relieving himself, shoots his, uh, fluids upward, extinguishing the spark of the dynamite that happened to be just above him. The day is saved!
McPixel rarely relies on logic and that's the point. If you over-think puzzles, you'll probably loath this game. However, once you accept McPixel for the random mess that it is, it's far more enjoyable and I was always curiously tapping everything on screen to see what dumb scenario would occur. While it's usually pretty clear which objects can be interacted with, things get irritatingly vague at times. A puzzle set inside a pyramid only had a mummy and a stick of dynamite on screen but toying around with both led to failure. Tapping a random panel on the wall, indistinguishable from the others, was the key to success. That stuff got annoying quick but some false outcomes do provide some hints as to how to proceed correctly, so it's not always a total shot in the dark.
That said, puzzles can also become overly tedious. In order to unlock the ending and actually beat the game, 100% completion must be achieved for each puzzle. Doing so requires players to not only solve each level but to then replay them and uncover all of the gags they missed. A Space Invaders-themed level had a row of alien ships and one glowing cube. Feeding the cube to each ship made them transform into a bunch of random things (such as McPixel dry-humping a PS3), but completely finishing that level meant interacting with each alien. Considering that there were two rows with five alien ships and that puzzles in a world operate on reel - meaning that you have to run through all the puzzles in a row before trying them again - this took forever to finish as you have to run through the entire set of puzzles TEN times just to finish one. Heaven help you if you forget which alien you messed with last, too.
The worst offender is the final world in which all six puzzles take place in the exact same setting: a house filled with a variety of bombs. Only one explosive is the correct one to diffuse, but that answer changes with each puzzle, meaning that shutting down, say, the grenade may solve puzzle 1 but will blow you to smithereens in puzzle 2. Completing that world involves an annoying combination of trial and error and process of elimination where the easiest method of solution was to pick the same bomb for every puzzle until it worked and switching to a new one every go-around. Since some bombs are bunched too closely together, I would accidentally tap ones I'd already tested, throwing this laborious system out of whack. I understand the developer wanting to showcase all of his work, but this is overdoing it a tad.
McPixel also features an Endless Mode that throws every puzzle in the game at you at once as well as free DLC filled with a ton of new content. There's also great level variety, ranging from a satellite, the inside of a whale, and Hell itself, to stages based on numerous films, television shows, and video games. McPixel also has a free version that features a single, complete chapter of the game , so you can take a peek before dropping the cash. It's far from perfect, but anyone looking for ridiculous laughs on-the-go should try their hand at saving the day.