It’s always nice to see indie developers show a little bit of creativity. McPixel is the result of that “little bit” of creativity growing to enormous proportions and stomping around the city that is Gameopolis like Godzilla through Tokyo. Essentially, McPixel is a point-and-click adventure starring the eponymous hero as he saves the day – a phrase which here means attempts (usually unsuccessfully) to prevent an explosion. Despite his attempts to save the day, however, 95% of what McPixel winds up doing is kicking, and 95% of what he winds up kicking is genitalia. Many of his methods involve inserting sticks of TNT up various orifices of other people. Oh, and according to the developers, “he’s also a jerk”.
McPixel is the result of a mad scientist’s splicing of LucasArts games from right in the centre of their golden age with WarioWare - for those of you unfamiliar, WarioWare is a series of micro-game collections, similar to mini-games but with little explanation and only a number of seconds to complete the task at hand. In McPixel, you’re given 20 seconds in which to prevent a (usually) hidden stick of TNT from exploding and destroying the level. Levels can be set anywhere and everywhere – in just the first few “batches”, you’ll encounter a cemetery, spaceship, hospital, coffee shop, sewers, and a ridiculous number more. In the restrictive time limit, you’re forced to come up with some zany method to stop the bomb from going off. Don’t worry if you miss it, though, as the failures are often funnier than the solutions, and that way you get to have another go at the level as it cycles around again (a batch contains 6 levels which each cycle until they’ve been solved). In fact, failing the first time is actually recommended, as obtaining a gold medal on a level is only possible if you view all possible outcomes.
Being so heavily inspired by the point-and-clicks we love so very, very much, McPixel is another game of the “the obvious solution is not the correct solution” variety. In one level (that’s featured in the trailer, so I don’t feel so bad spoiling it), you’ll find yourself in a falling elevator with an old man and another passenger. In order to complete the level, you have to open the door, pick up the fire extinguisher, and throw it at the old man’s face, from which it bounces out the door, down the elevator shaft, and explodes on the ground, covering up the stick of dynamite at the bottom of the shaft. Why can’t you just throw it out the door? I don’t know, but it’s sure funny watching it bounce off the old man’s head. Everything is very fast-paced, further exacerbated by the somehow-never-tedious looping music. Honestly, it’s like a thirty second loop, but it never gets grating. Not once.
After getting gold on each level, a level editor is (apparently) unlocked. I’ll admit to not having the patience to progress that far yet, but McPixel is a game that is best enjoyed in small chunks. As a matter of fact, the splash screen claims that “It is highly recommended to take breaks while playing this game. Longer play sessions can damage your brain and gameplay experience.” Truer words have never been spoken. There’s only so much testicle-kicking one can handle before hitting Alt+F4. As long as you remember to abide by those words and keep to play sessions of one or two batches, however, you’ll get the most enjoyment possible out of McPixel. Maybe it’s not the best warning to be greeted with as you start a game – “hey, our game is good, but maybe don’t play it for too long, okay?” – but you soon learn why the developers had to be brave enough to include such a warning as the first thing you see of McPixel. There are 100 levels present, divided into 4 chapters, but if you’d allow me to again quote the very man who made the game, “playing 100 levels straight would be too much for a human brain to take.”
During a single level, I drunk a beer and urinated on an alien. He looked angry and flipped me off. Then the spaceship blew up because I hadn’t disarmed the bomb. In another level, I drunk an entire pot of coffee. I then put my shirt over my head and stretched my arms out in what must have been a Cornholio tribute. And yes, you guessed it, the coffee shop blew up. What I’m trying to say is that it’s juvenile humour. The level of sophistication going on here is next to naught. McPixel is, quite simply, a trial-and-error game based around kicking people in the balls. That’s the only way to play it, as it’s how you’re going to see all of the possible outcomes to each level and, thus, how you’re going to crack the highest number of ribs laughing. I admit that not everyone is going to get the same kick out of stealing an army officer’s hat and yelling at him until he carries a bomb away and sacrifices himself, but as long as you’re not one of the people who turned their nose up at Bulletstorm (aka the One Massive Dick Joke game), you should have a fairly good time here. Kicking aliens in the balls never gets old. Oh, and at one point I think I might have unknowingly treated an old man to a hand job from a zombie’s disembodied hand.
McPixel is what happens when indie games become truly indie. DLC is free. You can receive a discount on the purchase price by submitting fan-art to the developer. And I’m not sure if they’re serious or not, but their website and press site both seem to list the Commodore 64 as a platform that will see future release (as well as mobile devices, but that makes much more sense than the C64). You’ll meet God, fight Sub-Zero, feed a snake an atom bomb, kick countless testicles, and just generally be an arse to the people you’re trying to save. According to the feature list, there’s something called “McPixel Fart Along” in the game. I don’t know what that is, but I don’t care about your opinion – as far as I’m concerned, any game that can include a “fart along” in its feature list is a game worth playing, even if it’ll only entertain you for ten minutes at a time.
Select Start Media was provided with a review copy of McPixel by Sos.