Thank goodness for that the idiotic joy of McPixel. A much-overlooked game from 2012, far too many people didn’t recognize the semiotic brilliance of its advanced puzzles, based around innovative solutions where people get kicked in the crotch and then peed on things. A decade later, finally a sequel—McPixel 3-is with us.
In case you’re somehow unfamiliar with the (now free!) McPixelwas it a game that – in a complex sequence of turns – was a spoof MacGruber‘s spoof of MacGyver. A collection of WarioWareish minigames, each of the 100 or so levels was a 20-second challenge to stop a bomb from exploding. Most likely by peeing on something, or failing that, by kicking someone else’s dick. And more importantly, failure was a loth the point: the more you failed, the more jokes you saw. Yes, it was definitely extremely childish. But also very funny.
Given the past ten years, you will not be surprised to hear that McPixel has matured as a concept. Where once it was a game about solving about 100 nonsensical levels via linear progression, it’s now a game about solving about 100 nonsensical puzzles from a central hub world! Fortunately, the puzzles themselves still focus on kicking things, peeing on things, and kicking things you just weed on.
The format in this second game is much the same: each level is a collection of six mini-levels, played in turn until you find the “correct” solution for one of the levels, then shrinking them until all six are checked off. In the process, you’ll find as many as a dozen “wrong” endings, with the incentive to go back and make them 100 percent later. Each is a ludicrous and confusing scenario, with an opaque goal and the means to achieve it rarely make sense. What’s perfect.
The joy of McPixel is just clicking stuff and then watching the stupid shit that follows. For example, you are on a train that is probably hurtling towards its doom. There are a few people in your carriage, one of them sat with an empty fishbowl on his lap. There is a fish on the floor. So if you’ve ever played a point-n-click game, you assume you have to put the fish in the bowl. Pick up the fish, and yes, that’s okay, the level isn’t over yet. Click on the fishbowl and McPixel dives headfirst into it, then curls up in the water as the train flies off the tracks to everyone’s death.
You could also flush the fish down a toilet, but it turns out this is for no other reason than to check off the action in the level’s 100 percent list. You could kick someone, but it won’t help. What is doing work jumps out the window, where McPixel gets up, drives Wile-E.-Coyote-style to the front of the speeding locomotive and pushes it to slow it down so no one dies. Yes, it’s crazy, but that’s why this game is so much fun.
This is all about being surprised and laughing out loud. I’ve had the worst week, a terrible time, and remnants are still hanging around me. But playing this today lifted me out of my funk and made me laugh out loud. That’s a pretty amazing feat, and makes the game worth every penny.
I love that the intervening decade hasn’t resulted in an attempt to make a significantly more involved game, just a much better one. It’s a slicker, less clunky creation, with all sorts of wacky twists to it WarioWare-like format from 20 to 60 second levels. And it’s just incredibly childish, a game where you have to pee on things so often is the answer, and where detonating someone else is considered saving the day.
You can get McPixel 3 only for ten bucks, or pick up the original game at the McPixel 3 trilogy for, uh, the same price. It is over Steam, GOG, Xboxand Switch.