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McPixel 3 Review


If your house was engulfed in flames, what would you do? Let’s assume there are only two options: extinguish the fire with the help of a nitroglycerin explosion, or drink a bucket load of water until your bladder is so full that you can soak the house in pee.

Choosing the first option means you’re probably as resourceful as the legendary MacGyver. Should you choose the latter though, then your problem resolution skills are perfectly aligned with McPixel, the star of McPixel 3. Prepare for a bonkers experience in McPixel 3 as you’ll have to save the day in the weirdest possible ways, over and over again.

Despite the title suggesting otherwise, McPixel 3 is the second instalment of the McPixel series, with the original never making it onto consoles. It’s also one of those rare concepts that’s a parody of a parody, with protagonist McPixel inspired by an idiot called MacGruber, who is a character based on the rather intelligent MacGyver. Essentially, McPixel gets involved in many life or death situations and it’s up to you to guide him to make the right decisions to save the day. 

The tutorial perfectly encapsulates everything you’re about to experience by placing McPixel on a stage alongside a bomb. There are markers, which look like hands, to signify what can be interacted with in each area. Controlling McPixel, you must pick up the bomb, place it on a table and instruct him to eat it. And then comes the weird part, as you’re piecing together the dissected bomb inside his stomach to enable the passing of it into the nearest toilet. All of this occurs as a clock counts down to zero, piling on the pressure before the situation culminates in a gag to relieve the tension – the bomb explodes in the pipe system and the water from the toilet throws McPixel into the air. 

Although there’s no real narrative, each of the 100 levels is like a bite-sized tale told within a matter of seconds and it’s that fast paced style that really packs a punch. To access them all though, you must explore the city of McBurg and use coins to unlock new areas as well as new levels. Coins are earned by saving the day as well as finding unique ways to fail a level. Deliberately failing sounds like madness, however it pays to do so, with more coins awarded when you go through every potential solution. Just think of the visual jokes you might miss out on should you not.

Imagine you’re on a train that’s going to crash due to a broken track, you can solve it by pulling the emergency brakes. Where’s the fun in that though? Hence, other possible attempts could see you putting a fishbowl on McPixel’s head, assaulting an old man or jumping out of the window and trying to slow the train down with McPixel’s bare hands. Until you save the day, each level will play in a loop, allowing you to experiment in the hopes of figuring out every permutation. Normally it’d be a nuisance to repeat the same things over and over, but the swiftness helps massively and there’s genuine replayability brought about by wanting to see every silly solution.

There are themes to connect the levels together too, adding extra entertainment to proceedings, with a few standouts like the sitcom ones where you’re put in mundane situations, or the series of scenarios involving McPixel being shrunken down. Heck, some of them are even retro gaming inspired, featuring consoles, level designs and art styles which will invoke memories of yesteryear. Variety is definitely not in short supply where the levels are concerned.

Every so often, a level contains a mini-game to test your ability to succeed in various classic genres. Get behind the wheel to win a race without colliding into fellow racers, beat up thugs on the street, and blast away asteroids to save a space station. That’s just a small sample of the mini-games, which offer a fun change to the otherwise point-and-click gameplay. Sure, they’re super simple, requiring very little input, but it’s also a nice subtle nod to some of the greats. 

Should you want something completely different from the crazy life of McPixel, there’s always Steve. Steve has his own selection of scenes, showcasing a severe lack of talents as he can be found fishing, doing the laundry or summoning demons. While not as thrilling, the pure tediousness of Steve’s life is mildly amusing; you will want to head back to life or death affairs pretty sharpish though.

Visually, the world of McPixel 3 is created using – you guessed it – pixels. While some folks aren’t keen on pixel art, it doesn’t do it any harm here and instead adds to the charm of it all. The developer, Sos Sosowski, manages to design a load of interesting scenes with enough clarity to not only work out what’s going on instantly, but also consistently deliver visual gags. 

Unfortunately, there are moments where McPixel 3 tries to be too ambitious, which exposes the basic mechanics. The sports section of levels are the most obvious examples of these as you occasionally have limited windows of opportunity to interact. It’s not easy to select between two options during this time and in at least one situation, it seems almost impossible to interact due to the corresponding button being the same as the jump command. 

On the whole, McPixel 3 is a pleasant surprise; one that ends up being far better than anticipated. Expect to find a few hours worth of over-the-top, fast-paced action and so much silly humour that you’ll be laughing to yourself, without shame. Even though you keep repeating levels to figure out the solution, it’s never boring, with plenty of variety in the themes. It’s rarely mentally taxing either, but there are times you might get a tad frustrated with the mechanics. 

Go chug down a few litres of water and pick up McPixel 3 immediately – you’ve got a burning house to save! 

McPixel 3 is out now on the Xbox Store

James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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