by Austin Reynolds
reviewed on X360
The Start of an Adventure
The game starts in the house of our protagonists, Axel and dog Pixel. They are just sitting around until suddenly the peace is disturbed by the evil Ice Giant and his minion, the mutated rat. They destroy the house, making our two heroes homeless. Before Axel and Pixel can react the two foes have left for home.
This is where you come in. Axel and Pixel have to travel through the four seasons to get to winter and take on the Ice Giant. I will be honest here and say that this game doesn’t really have much in terms of plot and story, but the gameplay is what makes it a blast.
Axel & Pixel is primarily a point-and-click adventure, but it also incorporates puzzle elements and has some vehicle based mini-games. The main thing you will be doing is finding various objects to interact with to help solve a problem that is presented in each level. Can’t find what to click on? The game gives you three clues per level, which is more than enough to help you figure out what to do.
Some levels consist of various types of puzzles. The puzzles range from hooking up colored wires to building pipes underwater. Some of the puzzles might give you a tiny bit of trouble, but it will never be anything that takes more than a few minutes, so frustration is kept at a minimum. Some levels have a few quick time events that enable you to do things like jump across platforms and defeat giant bosses. This game is a lot of fun, but can get a little bit tedious at the end. And unfortunately it only lasts for a few short hours.
The mini-games are probably the low point of this game. They are 2-D side-scrolling vehicle games. First is the balloon game, where you must fly a hot air balloon through a cave while avoiding rocks and walls. This one can be fun for a while, but you probably won’t want to play it more than once or twice. Next up is the car game, in which you drive a car over jumps and hills to get to the finish as fast as possible. Your car also has turbo that you can use to get up hills that might seem impossible to get over otherwise. This is easily the most fun of the mini-games, but again it is nothing you will play for more than twenty or thirty minutes (if you even play it that long).
The worst part of the entire game is the boat game. In this mini-game you drive a boat down a river that has many conveniently placed whirlpools that will make your life a living hell. In some areas the whirlpools are almost unavoidable, and they dish out a lot of damage. To make it all even worse, I found the controls for the boat to be very shaky and unpredictable. Now you might be thinking, “If the boat game sucks so bad, then why don’t you just not play it?” Well, that’s the problem; all of the mini-games must be played throughout the course of the story to be able to proceed, so you can’t just skip them.
There are some more features, although they probably won’t make or break your purchase. The game features a few leader boards for each of the mini-games and the main story. If you are an achievement hunter, the achievements in Axel & Pixel aren’t that hard to get, but some might require you to play through the game more than once.
The graphics are simply amazing in Axel & Pixel. Everything in the game is beautifully hand drawn. You can tell that a lot of time was spent making it all look great, and that time was definitely well spent. If you were to compare Xbox Live Arcade graphics (excluding BF 1943 of course) to women, then this game would be Megan Fox.
Overall, Axel & Pixel is a great game, even if it only lasts for a little while. You probably won’t be coming back to this game over and over again and I don’t know if this is worth a whole 800 Microsoft Points. But it is an overall pretty solid game and a great 3-5 hour experience. I would say that if you are looking for a good game that you can blow through in an afternoon and you have some extra MS points, then definitely pick this one up.
A great point-and-click/puzzle adventure…
… but it only lasts for a few short hours.