• Review: McPixel

    In McPixel, you have 20 seconds to save the day.

    Because unless you do so, something will explode: it might be a stick of dynamite, a 44-gallon drum, or an atomic bomb. Whatever it is, it will explode. And that will mean you will have to start all over again.

    McPixel is a puzzle game. But not just any puzzle game, no no no — the most bizarre puzzle game you've ever seen. The idea is to use objects in your environment — sometimes by themselves, other times in combination with other objects — to defuse, get rid of, extinguish, or nullify the explosion in any way you can.



    McPixel is played via a collection of scenes. Every scene has an impending explosion of some kind, and sometimes you won't know where the explosion will come from. It might be a stick of dynamite hidden in a camera, or it might fall from the sky. In one scene, there is no explosion per sé, but a plane does crash into the ground, so there's that. The scenes are broken up into a set of rounds, separated into chapters. There's four chapters in total, and each chapter has three rounds with one bonus round (more on this later), each with six scenes where you have to stop something from exploding.



    One of the scenes you'll play sees you drinking a potion so you can kick a large bomb into the mouth of another character, who then swallows the bomb which promptly explodes. But because the blast is dampened by the character's head, everything is okay. If you try kicking the bomb without first drinking the potion, the bomb doesn't go all the way into the other character's mouth; it explodes, and you fail that scene.



    There's no control scheme, per se — you can tap on objects, and if that object can be interacted with, a small exclamation mark will appear above McPixel once you've tapped on it. Some objects can be picked up — spanners, torches, bombs, plants, potions, wands, chickens, the list goes on — and others can simply be tapped on for a short cut-scene to play, which usually ends with an explosion of some kind.



    Perhaps the only gripe I have is that it would be nice if the help movie appeared the first time you played. The first time I played McPixel, I had no idea what I was doing: I tapped on a few things, some things happened, then the game moved along to the next scene, and I was even more confused. It wasn't until I went to the options and tapped on help that I had some idea of what was going on. If you're playing McPixel, I highly recommend you tap on Options and tap Help to view the mini-guide, just so you get an idea of what happens during gameplay.



    You'll fail levels a lot in McPixel, but that's half the fun, and actually, half the game: every time you interact with an object in order to fail the scene (and see the resulting explosion), you get a little cut-scene that plays out. Depending on what object you interacted with, sometimes the cut scene will see you pressing keys on a computer, drinking a beer, or any number of other possibilities which I won't spoil here (one gag does involve the childish act of removing the "M" from "Critical Mass" to make "Critical ass", though). Finding all the "gags" in any given scene means that scene turns gold-coloured in the bottom scene-navigation bar for any given round, and finding all the gags for every round in a chapter unlocks the bonus round for that chapter, which is usually even more puzzle-solving hilarity. Getting 100% on the game isn't hard — anyone can do it with enough trial and error, and it wouldn't even take you that long.



    Anyone can play McPixel. Even the menu system is a little mini-game of it's own, with one menu letting you pick up tickets and then passing them to a conductor in order to choose which round of that chapter you want to play.

    McPixel is maddeningly good fun, hilariously illogical, and features a few of the best parodies I've seen. It's masterfully done, featuring a lovely 8-bit graphics scheme that actually works for this kind of game.

    And frankly, if you're not sick of the amazing and super-catchy soundtrack by the time you've finished a chapter, you obviously haven't played it enough.



    A long, long time ago, there was a game called PapiJump. PapiJump was amazing: you were a little ball, and you jumped from level to level in a high-score chaser that, I'm sure, was a complete rip-off of DoodleJump. But it was great, and at MacTalk, we loved it.

    McPixel is the new PapiJump.

    Only instead of being a cheapo rip-off of an App Store bestseller, it's a fantastic 8-bit game that features a dude who likes to kick people in the crotch. A lot. Kick a bride in the crotch. Kick Godzilla in the crotch. Kick an old man in the crotch. Kick Batman in the crotch. You'll do a lot of crotch-kicking in McPixel, and sometimes, just sometimes, it might even help you stop the impending explosion.



    There's heaps of stuff I'll leave you to discover on your own — suffice to say, there's a few very special levels. I'm sure I missed a few pop culture references here and there, but McPixel is such amazingly good fun anyway.

    If you haven't played McPixel, you're missing out on a game that has a great 8-bit style mixed with some of the most outrageous humour in any game I've seen. McPixel is $2.99 in our App Store, otherwise there's also the Lite version if you just want a taste of what the full version offers.



    Benny Ling has 20 seconds to save the world, and thus can't afford to be wasting time writing silly little biographies such as this one.
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