All posts by Zachary Miller

Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles Review – PC

Man, the ocean is kind of terrifying. I mean, sure it starts out all fine for the first few dozen feet or so, but have you ever just thought about what’s down there? How much of it there is? And how much of that water is just full of… nothing? How things get weirder and weirder the deeper you go? I mean, yes, sometimes you see beautiful things like jellyfish, or a pretty glowy speck in front of you, but then you remember how dangerous jellyfish can be, or that the speck in front of you is the lure of a female anglerfish and the rest of them resemble less of a fish and more the head of the robots from Five Nights at Freddy’s 4.

Regardless, there are some delightful and weird creatures living in the depths of the ocean. Take, for example, the sea angel, or nudibranches, both of whom are very squishy wonderful little guys. Not to mention the numerous glow-in-the-dark creatures that don’t look like they were designed by Scott Cawthon. Some nudibranches even look like bunnies!

Luckily, the world design of Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles is based more on the latter category than the former. In the game, you play as Lumote, a small squishy thing that looks like a sea cucumber and sounds like a small child. The world they live in, normally a nice shade of blue, has turned into a dangerous looking shade of red controlled by an entity known as the Mastermote. And as every game in the history of ever has taught us, red things are bad, so you’ve got to go fix it (At least that’s what I could glean from the website and Steam page; the story in this game really isn’t super important).

Your controls are simple: you can run. You can jump. You can double jump. And you can sit on things. This last one is where the game’s mechanics really start to come into play. The various levels are dotted with purple patches of flowers. When Lumote sits on one, things happen! Generally, this means that blue energy (which will now be referred to as simply capital-B Blue) radiates out from you along the paths in the level and interfaces with things, powering things up, chasing away the Scary Red Energy (which likewise will now be called Red) and eventually power the exit so you can continue to the next area.

Of course, if you stop sitting on flowers, you will no longer be powering them. So you need to find a way to make the things stay powered and chase the Red away. Luckily, these cube-like creatures called Dumbats, one of many other inhabitants of the world, will hold a charge when you sit on their flower, and emit it into any flower they themselves are sitting on. There’s also these platforms that are actually bioluminescent colonies of worms that stretch when exposed to Blue or Red, although if they are Red they will shy away from you or anything else charged with Blue.

It’s a puzzle game, so experimenting with how these various props and tools interact with each other is the main gameplay loop. Your goal in each stage is to figure out how to open the flower gate that will let you progress. This is always done by making sure the plant in front of it is charged completely with Blue and no Red, but getting to that point is the tricky part, and explaining it in text is perhaps even more difficult.

Gameplaywise, it works pretty darn well, I think. The game introduces new mechanics and creatures gradually and slowly, for the most part, doing a good job of helping you figure out one way to use a given creature’s abilities and habits with experimentation. There’s not a whole lot of tricky platforming or anything, meaning most of the game’s difficulty comes from the puzzles. And they’re good puzzles! They feel quite satisfying to solve, and each time you do you get to see the Blue flow through the level and push the Red into retreat.

I’m about halfway through, and there’s not really enemies or health, although you do die if you fall off the level or accidentally crush yourself, which resets the puzzle you’re on. This is only a brief setback, and in my experience only happens by mistake than the developers explicitly trying to kill you. No restarting a level dozens of times so you can make that perfect jump or anything. I would also like to mention how the game, despite being 3D, feels casual and easy to pick up whenever you just want to vibe and solve some puzzles. The controls feel responsive, and puzzles only take a few minutes to solve each, so playing it doesn’t feel like a huge time commitment. Kinda reminded me of a game called A Monster’s Expedition Through Puzzling Exhibitions in that way.

Also, in case it wasn’t clear from the screenshots: the game is beautiful. It’s themed around the various squishy colorful glowy creatures in the ocean, as previously mentioned, and I want to hug all of them. There’s also an element of the Tron aesthetic of “dark primary colors with glowy blue or red accents” which is always a fun palette, even more so on squishy organic things instead of smooth electronic ones.

There’s also the fact that the game is one long winding path in a single massive room. You can look up or down at any point to see all the blue areas you’ve already completed above you, and all the scary red ones beneath you that are yet to come. It’s really fun just to look around and see all that progress splayed out around you, twisting into the abyss. The game even has a built in photo mode that you can use to look around and fully appreciate the environment.

The whole thing is set to this vaguely watery synthy ambient music. It changes slightly based on your surroundings, and creatures will add little noises and chimes to it as you go about Blueing things, although the Red creatures tend to make more harsh electromechanical “your hard drive’s days are numbered” noises than the smooth ones they make when Blue.

For those of you who like to find secrets, there’s even a series of little collectible relics. As far as I can tell, there’s a little golden statuette tucked away in each level. You can view them in a little gallery in the pause menu. Each statue depicts one of the creatures in the game, and if you collect, say, every dumbat relic, the little golden statue in the pause menu will change to a full colorful 3d model of the creature going about its business. Not to mention each one you collect makes Lumote say “Wooooah…!” in an adorable, hushed voice, which is pretty pleasing of a noise.

There’s a few little complaints I have about this game though. Nothing too major, for the most part it’s thoroughly enjoyable. But right now, I haven’t seen any method available for going back and collecting missed relics. There could be one later in the game, I suppose, but right now I’m just trying very hard not to miss any. Additionally, relic hunters would do well to find each stage’s relic before going to the work of running around and puzzle solving. Some of them are hidden in out of the way locations under the level, and although relics that you collect will stay collected after you die, doing so will still reset the puzzle, and should that happen it can be a bit annoying.

Now onto the minor nitpicky stuff. I just got to a part where they introduced about three new kinds of creatures at once in a single stage. It took me a good few minutes to figure out that this place was actually a mini hub level of sorts that was also introducing teleporting flowers to lead you to off-routes so you could learn how to use each of the things. It’s not something they introduced before and is a bit jarring compared to the rest of the game’s methods of introducing new mechanics.

Additionally, this area has these three large beams that lead off into the distance that you look like you should be able to walk on. It’s not even a huge problem to jump up to them. However, if you travel very far out you simply encounter a kill trigger and die immediately. Like I said, these two are very minor nitpicky issues. I don’t even know if most people would notice or care about either of them.

I’ve been playing for about 2.5 hours, and I think I’m about halfway through, so I estimate it’d take about 4-6 hours to finish, a bit more if you want to go for all the hidden relics. $20 may seem like a bit of a steep price point, perhaps, but there’s a lot of heart put into this game. The puzzles are fun and pretty and all feel really satisfying to solve. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up and put down again and won’t try to skinnerbox you into continuing to play it. That’s $20 going to indie developers instead of letting some billionaire somewhere buy a third yacht. There’s far, far worse ways to spend that $20.

If any of this sounds interesting, I highly suggest you check out the Steam page for more info. It’s got a demo too, in case you want to try it for yourself. Lumote: the Mastermote Chronicles is an overlooked gem, definitely worth the time and money.

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TAITO Milestones Review – Switch

Does anyone else remember seeing those plug n play consoles in stores as a kid? You know, the ones that boldly advertise dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of games, many of which are actually bootlegs of each other or popular arcade games? Getting one of those is kind of strange; you have no idea what a given game is going to be about until you crack it open. It’s not like there’s documentation or anything for all 200,000 or whatever, and even if games 201-200,000 are actually all super contra, well. At least you have super contra to play, right?

Taito Milestones is a bit like that. The good news is that it’s only a bit- it’s a collection of 10 arcade games bundled into a single application. They’re definitely no classic arcade standbys well known as Pac-Man, Frogger, or even Q*Bert, but there’s definitely some good games here. I don’t have time to delve all the way through all of them (these are classic arcade quarter munchers! They’re designed to be difficult and take several plays to really learn) but I’ll do my best to cover them all.

Before we get into that though, I’d like to mention a few other features. Each game comes with a manual, as well as a settings menu that lets you adjust some settings that the classic cabinets presumably had, such as configuring the number of points you need to earn extra lives, how many lives you start with, and so on. It’s a nice touch. There are also some ways you can mess with the graphics to make them look more like a classic arcade cabinet- scan lines and such. Additionally, each game comes with infinite credits and an interrupt save function. You can save at any time, and the next time you start up that game you can resume from that point. Handy, especially since some of the games actually have endings and it would be a shame if you ran out of battery partway through the final level. Most, if not all, of the games also support 2 players, although without testing it I can only assume it’s of the “switch off between play” type for the most part.

Without further ado, onto the games.

ALPINE SKI: This is a game where… you ski. Gasp. Your lil pixel dude hurtles down a slope at breakneck speeds as you try to avoid hitting anything except the wonderful numbers worth points scattered around the slope. You have two minutes to reach the bottom, and as many lives as you want- but hitting an obstacle will stop you and make you start over from a short ways back, as well as deduct 10 seconds from your remaining time. Turning slows you down, luckily, and you can speed yourself up for more points.

It’s not bad! I will admit I got impatient and gave up before I could progress past the downhill portion (there’s two other stages mentioned in the manual, after which it starts over again from downhill skiing), but it’s intriguing and I would be willing to try it again. Obstacles can come at you a little fast, and it’s a bit frustrating how it always spawns you against the rightmost wall, but there’s definitely some fun to be found here.

WILD WESTERN: You’re the sheriff, and you’re out here with a bunch of ne’er-do-wells clad in stylish green and magenta gang outfits. You’ve gotta shoot them off their horses and protect the train, stopping them all before they can rob it!

This one’s also pretty interesting. You can shoot in eight directions while you’re moving around on your horse, and if a shot hits the train it bounces off and can be ricocheted into targets, which is fun. You can also duel gangsters on top of the train by just hecking jumping on top of it, which is of course extremely cool. The fact that there’s technically a twin stick shooter in this collection is kinda incredible, too. There’s a couple things though- enemies can only be hurt by shooting the riders, not the horses. Additionally horses stay onscreen once the rider is down and will just amble about, and touching them will kill you. I don’t know if those are necessarily bad design choices, but they did strike me as a bit frustrating. Oh well, you know. Thaaat’s arcade games!

FRONT LINE: You’re a soldier stranded without backup behind enemy lines. Every person nearby will try to kill you on sight. It’s oddly stressful for an arcade game. Luckily, you’ve got a gun and infinite grenades, and you plan on exploding the enemy base.

I don’t know why, but this one didn’t quite do it for me. Maybe it’s just the war theming, but even though it’s similar to the last game, it’s a lot closer quarters than Wild Western. Your shots don’t travel as far, there’s obstacles that block them, and the screen doesn’t scroll onwards until you’re unsettlingly close to whatever adversaries spawn just outside of it. It doesn’t help that there’s a sort of hill on either side of the screen that you can’t clamber onto, and land mines that further restrict your already slow movement. It’s not a bad game, just not one I really gelled with.

QIX: You are trapped within a black void with sparky objects going around the border line you are confined to. In the middle, a nightmare creature represented by a banner of wiggling light that wouldn’t be out of place in an early windows screensaver- the Qix. But luckily, the fearsome wrath of the Qix can be calmed if it’s contained within a chamber 25% of the size it’s currently in, and your marker can create walls that will reduce the space it has to move around in! Just be careful, for the walls are highly unstable and will begin to combust if you pause while they aren’t complete, and will cause you to explode if the Qix touches one in progress. Or so I assume the plot goes.

Eldritch horrors aside, this one’s pretty solid! I’ve definitely seen a few clones of it in my life, and now I know what the original’s called. You can quickly make lines into funky shapes that seal off more and more of the stage, but doing so more slowly is riskier and worth more points. Additionally, the innermost barriers of the map are patrolled by these little sparky adversaries, meaning you need to quickly move from one side of the board to the other if you want to stay alive. Definitely compelling!

SPACE SEEKER: This is… kind of a weird one. You start out on a map screen overlooking a planet with a number of little red dots and big yellow and blue ships. You need to collide with them. Don’t worry, this isn’t a game where you kamikaze into baddies, that just brings up one of two game modes. Hitting the little red dots brings you to a first-person area where you aim and shoot down enemy craft. Once you’ve shot down all the craft (assuming none of them overlap with the two areas your guns occupy), the dot is removed, and you can do more map things. On the other hand, touching a yellow blue ship will have you facing a Gradius style battle in a side-scrolling shooter.

This one really didn’t do it for me. The fact that there’s a map screen at all is kinda strange, especially for an arcade game where you die fast and have very little room for error. The first-person segments are okay, I guess, but there’s not a crosshair and little feedback as to where you’re aiming or where your hitbox is until an enemy ship hits it. The Gradius parts… I really couldn’t get a handle on those. It takes a good 10 or 15 seconds to get from the map screen back into gameplay, and lots of stuff in the Gradius stages that doesn’t look like it would kill you… kills you. Like clouds, for example. Not to mention the fact that the enemy ships and bases on the map screen can shoot at and kill you. It was just a very frustrating experience in my opinion, especially in a game with no continues.

ELEVATOR ACTION: You’re a secret agent man. After stylishly ziplining down onto the roof of this 30 floor office building (presumably from a nearby 40 floor office building), you must sneak your way down, steal the secret intel, and escape. By which I mean shoot everyone you see, crush them with elevators and falling lights, knock them out with a cool jump kick, and maybe very occasionally simply avoid them. Luckily, due to (presumably) union regulations, rooms containing top secret intel are clearly marked with red doors. And no one will look for you in one of those! You’re free to hide there for a few seconds if things get hot.

This one is also pretty cool and rad. For an old timey platformer arcade game, the gunplay feels good. You can jump over and duck bullets, shoot lights to disappear for a bit and go stealthy, and just generally be a cool pixely spy dude. If there’s one criticism I have, it’s that activating escalators and red doors has a weird command that’s a bit odd at first, but it’s not difficult to get used to. Thoroughly enjoyable!

CHACK’N Pop: This is a bit of a strange one. You’re a little yellow winged lad called Chack’n. You were hanging out with your love interest, portrayed by an identical sprite wearing a pink bow so you know she’s a girl, when a horde of monstas(sic) showed up and took away your cartoony hearts that spawned as a consequence of your love for each other! Obviously, this cannot stand, so you took to the tunnels to get the hearts back. It’s a platformer game, but instead of jumping, you have the power to cling to ceilings if they aren’t too high away from you. Additionally, you can drop bombs to the left or right that roll a short distance before detonating in a poof of smoke that will kill any monsta or egg (monstas spawn gradually from eggs) caught in it. The hearts are contained in cages, which must be destroyed in order to escape the level before time runs out and the creature up top known as a blocka blocks the exit.

Weird though it may be, Chack’N Pop is definitely interesting as well. Its movement is certainly novel, as its attack patterns. There’s even a practice stage at the beginning where dying won’t count against you (which can be disabled in settings if you’re sick of it). That being said, the bombs roll a bit after you throw them, which can be a bit annoying. Their explosions spread a bit slowly as well, and it’s easy to over or undercompensate if you’re not careful. Enemy AI seems fairly smart? I’ve seen a few times where a monsta just kind of lingered at the exit and kept turning away when I tried to get it with a bomb, only leaving when I moved a good distance away. Haven’t been able to get past the third level or so, but I would definitely try again. It’s a weird fun thing to mess around with!

THE FAIRYLAND STORY: Okay, this one is just weirdly delightful. You play as a little witch girl running around in a castle, using your magic to fight monsters. You have a basic attack that turns enemies into cakes, and can defeat them by either pushing them off a ledge or attacking them repeatedly while they are caked. There’s a variety of different enemies, from dragons to wizards and lil orc guys, all of whom are very cute.

This game is uncommon in this collection due to the fact that it lets you continue after you die- however, only from levels 7-98. That seems like an arbitirary number, but the levels aren’t necessarily hard. Just punishing to mistakes in traditional arcadey fashion. I’m also fairly certain it has some sort of conclusion at level 101? It’s a bit tricky but very engaging, and comboing enemies into each other by crushing them with cakes is easy and fun to pull off.

HALLEY’S COMET: The planet earth is under siege. By Halley’s hecking comet. This game is a vertical shoot em up where you play as a little ship that is trying to save the world from the incoming comet, as well as a flood of alien(?) ships that are also trying to destroy the blue marble we call home. This game has an interesting twist in the usual space shooter formula: every enemy or piece of debris that gets past you will cause a planet damage percentage on the right side of the screen to increase by 1. At 100% damage, you lose the game, no matter how many lives you have left. The right panel of the screen also shows you how close you are to actually reaching Halley’s comet, which implies that there is a boss fight at the end of each level (each of which is divided up into a couple stages) against a planetary body, which I am all for.

The space shooting in this is pretty solid! It doesn’t feel great at the start when you’re a little ship that fires one bullet at a time, but there’s plenty of upgrades and powerups hidden in various debris hurtling towards the planet. There’s lots of kinds of enemies, some of which move in confusing patterns that can catch you off guard, but they all seem really fun to face without being too difficult. The fact that you can fight a giant space rock as the boss is also extremely compelling to me. I haven’t gotten there yet but you bet someday I will punch that giant death orb from the sky.

THE NINJAWARRIORS: A weird combo of a side-scrolling beat em up, fighting game, and one finger death punch. You play as a cyborg ninja, and must proceed through stages full of bad guys, killing all comers with your cool ninja knife and throwing stars. Most common enemies have only one health and pose little threat, but there’s tougher ones that will take much more of a beating before going down.

I’m going to be level with you: this one seems extremely quarter munchy. The good news is on Taito classic, you can continue as much as you want without having to worry about running out of money! And you will need to continue. This game does not pull punches or mess about with things such as “extra lives”. You die once, game over. You will more than likely die multiple times before beating the first stage. The second stage starts out with you just straight up exploding a few times for no immediately discernible reason, and then an army tank rolls up to the screen and you have to fight it with your cool knife and ninja stars, and likely your character will rethink a few things about their life choices. It’s definitely entertaining, but it would not be super fun without the modern convenience of infinite credits I think. Plus you have to fight and kill attack dogs and having to kill dogs is always minus a few points in my book. Despite this, I think I might someday just go through and grind my way to the end just to see how it is. The game is six stages long and definitely has an ending, so it’s something to shoot for at least.

Overall? I’d say Taito Milestones is a fun and intriguing play. Like a weird plug n play console from the 2000s, it likely has a few games you might not be super into. Unlike a weird plug n play console though, these games are legit, and they come with things like actual instructions and saving. I will admit, the price tag of $40 seems a bit steep, but it definitely seems like a polished and high-quality port of some overlooked arcade classics.

Card Shark Preview – PC

When I was young, my first introduction to poker was in the minigames in New Super Mario Bros.  Of course, I was like eight at the time and didn’t really understand it very well, and it was a bit simplified, with no suits and only six symbols. But it was pretty much poker all the same. You played for coins against the green-clad plumber across from you, as various mushroom-headed guys roam around in the background with trays of drinks and such.

Playing Card Shark is somewhat similar to that, but instead of playing as the unseen player, or Famous Video Game Character Luigi, you play as one of the toads, in particular one who’s helping someone cheat the game hard, scamming people for all they’re worth. Also, it’s 18th century France, and you are a mute who definitely is not part mushroom, but otherwise it’s the same thing honestly. You can pet the dog at least!

The player controls an unnamed and voiceless protagonist who travels alongside a Romani caravan in the company of a gentleman referred to as Comte de Saint-Germain, a brilliant con artist. He is here to relieve fools from their money and donate a large sum of it to the caravan, who in turn donates it to worthy causes such as orphanages and whatnot. You are pulled into his schemes with promises of a way to make some quick and easy money, and then things escalate.

You see! It turns out that fools with loads of money, despite being fools, are not oblivious, and are also quite fond of their money. Should some such potential marks decide that you and your partner in crime happen to be a bit too lucky, well. They may decide to take their money back over your dead bodies. Which is less than ideal.

The gameplay starts off fairly simple. You are taught a series of tricks and maneuvers that I am fairly certain could be used to actually cheat at cards in real life, executing them via a series of carefully timed button presses and joystick wiggles. Of course, pressing buttons and wiggling your joystick will make others suspicious, but early on stages will end before that becomes an issue.

However, as things progress, you will learn more varieties of tricks that require different skills. While you start off gently pouring wine to peek at cards and rigging Three Card Monty, as you progress you will learn much more complex and difficult ways to cheat, such as stacking a deck with extra cards (which works great as long as you remember what cards you added so you can remove them before people see the extras).

The gameplay takes a bit to get going, but when it does it feels pretty darn great to execute. It helps that the story is intriguing, and the art is drop dead gorgeous. The choice to have a literally mute protagonist is novel as well! Most games choose to have silent protagonists to better immerse the player, but I have never seen a game host a character who is literally unable to speak on the same level as the rest of the cast. Dialog trees are presented in the form of a picture of a facial expression or gesture, in addition with a short descriptor of what it’s supposed to mean or how it’s supposed to come across. It’s a nice system, and the representation is good as well.

However, the game does have a few flaws that I found a bit difficult to ignore. The first one is relatively minor, but as such will hopefully be fixed in the release version: As you are learning the trick with the bottle, you are instructed to wipe the table in specific patterns in order to indicate certain suits. However, when you pause and look at the quick reference guide, two of the inputs (the ones for vertical and horizontal wiping) are switched, and as such will give an improper response if you go relying on the guide. This is mitigated by the fact that the game does tell you what symbol it says you’re indicating before you submit it, but still somewhat annoying.

The other two are a bit more of a hindrance: there is no cutscene skip. This is not much of a problem if you can perform flawlessly and win each level the first time you go through it. However, the final level in the demo has very high stakes and comes with some lengthy cutscenes before you actually get to the playing part. If you fail the level, you will die. And dying in this game is not as simple as picking “retry” on a menu.

When you die, you go to the underworld and must play a game with Death herself. If you win, you get resurrected and can continue from the start of the mission (with a cutscene of the characters talking about how spooked you look). However, if you fail, you must either pay with all of your money to be resurrected (which means you need to spend some time running a Three Card Monty game to earn money back with), or let your soul be eaten. This deletes your save file.

If you do come out with your save intact from an encounter with Death, she will allow you to resurrect for free in future attempts of that stage. However, you still need to sit through the cutscenes, as well as the scene of her telling you that you need not play with her again for now.

In itself, this wouldn’t be a huge issue either, perhaps even with the unskippable cutscenes. However, there is a mechanic that is never fully explained (and downright necessary for the final stage), wherein if you fail part of a task in an inconspicuous manner and it results in your sidekick losing the hand, it reduces an opponent’s suspicion. However, doing so will lose you money for obvious reasons, and not having enough money to continue playing counts as a loss. The buy-in cost of hands increases over time, and isn’t something you always have control over, so this can be a bit frustrating.

Otherwise though, Card Shark is a truly unique and intriguing game with beautiful art and a compelling story. The way all of the tricks you use to rig games are fairly realistic and require no complex setup helps really set the mood, and the game’s atmosphere is fantastic, despite a few frustrating details. I recommend giving this one a look.

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McPixel 3 Preview – PC

Have you ever played a mobile game that had a lot of ads?

Have you ever played a mobile game and gotten an ad for Gardenscapes that blatantly lies about what the game is about? Particularly one where you are presented with three problems such as a weedy flower patch, a broken fountain, and fresh soil that needs dug up, as well as three solutions such as a shovel, a spray bottle of weed killer, and extra concrete? By chance did you then have no choice but to watch as a mysterious hand chose to herbicide the plot of good soil, use the concrete to completely kill both the flowers and weeds, and then take the shovel to use as a blunt instrument to utterly destroy the fountain, leaving the entire scene a chaotic mess?

Well, I can’t think of any real person who would respond to a situation like that, but there is at least one video game character: the star of McPixel 3, the titular McPixel.

A somewhat crude parody of MacGyver (and, by extension, MacGruber), McPixel 3 is, ostensibly, a game about saving the day in multitudes of self-contained scenes that are all mere seconds away from disaster. While the previous game in the series, McPixel (not McPixel 2; such a game does not exist) had the pixelated protagonist struggling to defuse a bomb in each level, this game raises the stakes with multiple kinds of disasters to avert. While the demo contains a handful of explosive hazards, it also contains asteroids, a train derailing, and a plane crash as possible disasters to thwart.

However, I do use the phrase thwart liberally. You see, McPixel is… not very sensible. Or polite. Or really capable of interacting with a person in any way that isn’t comedic levels of violence, usually a kick to the groin. If you click on an item or person, it’s hard to tell exactly what he’s going to do with it. All you can really do is direct him and watch the chaos unfold. Attempt to climb a ladder with a pair of scissors? He cuts it, rendering it unusable. Click a sausage on a grill? He just kind of drops it into his pants. That sort of thing.

The solution(s) to these levels are almost never expected but finding the Proper Ending for each scene is only part of the game’s appeal. Instead, every little thing and combination of things you can click on generally has a comedic ending to the scene that results in your untimely demise. Since that’s part of the game’s draw, I’ll avoid going too much into the details, but there were definitely a few gags that got a good laugh out of me. There’s even a few minigames that taking certain actions can trigger that mix up the gameplay somewhat.

However, there were a few things that, while not really actively bad, I found annoying. The most significant hurdle I feel is the fact that it can be difficult to find interactions you have missed. This is for a few reasons: Firstly, each scene plays out consecutively, one after the other, until you either solve (or 100% complete) one of them, at which point it is removed from the queue and you move on. This means seeing the same cutscenes and having to take some of the same actions over and over again if you want to see everything, failed a minigame (some of which were a bit frustrating at times) or just couldn’t find the “right” way to finish an area.

The game does try to rectify this; If you play a scene enough times, a tooltip comes up that tells you that pressing a certain button will reveal all clickable areas on the screen, and that right clicking will skip a cutscene if you’ve already seen it. Both of these things are helpful! However, there’s a few things it will not skip. For example, a few scenes have multiple areas in them, or hidden additional areas. If you fail one of those scenes and want to go back, you need to spend several seconds doing the steps necessary to get those scenes prepared. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up. Not to mention potentially having to redo a minigame a few times if you can’t get it in short order, or if it has multiple endings.

Additionally, the breakneck speed of the game can make it hard to remember what you’ve tried and what you haven’t. It doesn’t help that some actions will immediately end the scene in a failure (or success) and it’s not clear whether clicking someone will, say, have McPixel kick them in the groin or smash them into an object for the remainder of the scene, ending it in a fail and shunting you off to the next wacky situation that requires you to shove everything you were just thinking about to one side and frantically try to remember which thing you haven’t used on that one thing yet.

There is an interface that keeps track of what gags you’ve seen, but it only pops up when it’s checking some things off, and I couldn’t find a way to show it aside from that. It would be nice to have some kind of visual indicator to show if something’s been done before, maybe also showing that doing such and such crazy thing will end the scene before you try it somehow. Or perhaps even a Henry Stickmin-esque flowchart/scene selector interface to skip some of the waiting

In closing, McPixel 3 is, in its current state, a fun, slightly unhinged time. While going for 100% completion or looking for solutions can be somewhat frustrating at times, if you’re ok with a bit of waiting it can be worth it to hunt for a few more japes and jokes amongst the confusion.