Axel & Pixel Review (Xbox360)

Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade platform has been on a roll in 2009. From hits such as Shadow Complex, ‘Splosion Man, Trials HD, and Battlefield 1943 to remakes such as Marvel vs. Capcom 2, The Secret of Monkey Island: The Special Edition, and Banjo-Tooie, Microsoft has been lucky to see a string of quality releases in such a short span of time.

2K Play and Silver Wish Games – developers of Wings of War on the XBLA – want to get in on the act and have released Axel & Pixel, a point-and-click adventure title for 800 Microsoft Points. Unfortunately, the pleasure doesn’t last too long as the title is short on length and too easy on the difficulty side of things. Even with the downside of longevity, the artwork and style of the title help push it over the bar and into the spectrum of relativity – gamers should remember their journey from start to finish when it’s all said and done.

The vehicle sections are limited, but enjoyable in their own right.
What's a man to do?

The storyline of Axel & Pixel has Axel and Pixel, a painter and his pet dog, on a journey to take down a villainous ice giant who has destroyed their house. Experiencing the four wonderful seasons that Earth so kindly has, Axel and Pixel travel among diverse environments as they try to extract their vengeance against the ice giant. For what it's worth, while the retribution is short-lived, it’s an acceptable expedition with pratfalls along the way.

Asking players to solve puzzles that often test the common sense of the gamer, Axel & Pixel isn’t breaking new ground for gameplay. The environment has clues – similar to the Sam & Max series – that aid in pointing players in the right direction. When players find an object or an area that they should investigate further, the cursor lights up and sends players on their way to completing the puzzles. It’s a generously simple title without many difficulty sections to stump the player.

Axel & Pixel is an example of a title that fell victim to the common “style over substance” label. It looks great, it’s charming and unique at times, but it’s a shame that gamers have little to come back to and experience for a second go-around. Taking around four hours at maximum to finish, there aren’t many incentives to head back through the storyline. Players unlock vehicle sections through the storyline mode that become available through the introductory menu, but they aren’t entertaining enough to hold the attention of the player.

Axel and Pixel stand out from the backgrounds.
What to do? What to do? Life isn't always easy.

Upon first look, Axel & Pixel has a certain degree of fascination that lures players in. The backgrounds are highly detailed and perfectly described. On top of that, the sound effects and music help capture the persona of the game to imbue a sense of personality that not many other titles have. But even with the colorful presentation values, Axel & Pixel is clearly a title that has a lot of pastiche but not enough replay value.

What else can be said about Axel & Pixel that needs to be said? Axel & Pixel is an enjoyable experience through the brief moments that players are able to experience. Visually, it’s a wonderful addition to the Xbox Live Arcade. Though, in the long run, Axel & Pixel doesn’t have enough appeal to keep the interest levels at an all-time high. It wades back and forth between being worth and not worth the 800 MSP price tag. Gamers should use high discretion when planning their purchase of Axel & Pixel. Though the crowd is somewhat niche, fans of the point-and-click adventure should find a small amount of enjoyment out of Axel & Pixel.

Top Game Moment: Upon the first play-through, Axel & Pixel lends itself to its forefathers that made the genre popular in the ‘90’s such as The Adventures of Sam & Max and The Secret of Monkey Island. A noteworthy attribute since it helps Axel & Pixel separate itself from being an imitator and allows it to stand alone as a satisfying adventure title.