Axel & Pixel

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Axel & Pixel Game Poster Image
Fun brainteaser art romp, with unexpected driving levels.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Creative thinking is rewarded. And appreciation of art and beauty is a key theme. Axel's goal is to finish his "masterpiece," and throughout the game the player looks for vistas to inspire him.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Axel is a good loyal friend to his dog, Pixel; he's a talented artist and admirer of the beauty in nature; and he demonstrates the benefits of thinking a problem through instead of rushing into it.

Ease of Play

The point-and-click play of most levels is incredibly simple to master. Some of the puzzles are very challenging, but players are allowed three hints per level. The game's main fault lies in the three vehicle levels (a boat, a car, and a hot air balloon), which are ASTOUNDINGLY difficult, and could even stop some players from finishing.

Violence

Scary animals threaten Axel and ocassionally do something to mildly hurt him, like bite his finger, causing him to yowl and shake his reddened hands in a cartoonish way. Axel sometimes gets mean animals to move by throwing rocks or seeds at them. He also fights a giant (who can be a bit frightening) with snowballs.

Sex

Nothing, really. A beaver dives into a toilet.

Language

The only talking is gibberish (sort of like in The Sims).

Consumerism

Not an issue.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this humorous, logic-based adventure can put brainy kids through a real mental workout. The puzzles are challenging, but all ultimately solvable. Which is why the three vehicle-based levels are such a disappointment. They take the focus away from brainwork and put it on eye-hand coordination—incredibly skillful eye-hand coordination. Unfortunately, there's no way to skip these levels. They put a real damper on an otherwise great game.

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What's it about?

AXEL & PIXEL is a story of an artist, who, along with his mutt, Pixel, get trapped in a painting and must traverse a surreal landscape to find his way out. The pair runs into all manner of bizarre obstacles—road-blocking dinosaur bones, a giant dragonfly, a cryptic ice piano, etc.—and must puzzle over the best ways to get past. Along the way, whenever he is inspired, Axel also stops to add touches to his own painting, which he hopes to complete when he manages to get back home.

Is it any good?

Axel & Pixel is a truly beautiful game. The photo-realistic scenery is simply stunning, and the game is a joy to look at. Searching the incrediby detailed environments for random odd items that might help you is a lot more fun than it sounds, and figuring out exactly how to use those strange things can be wildly gratifying. For example, you may grow a plant until it yields a giant strawberry, then find a rock to squish that berry into juice, then toss the juice onto a monster that blocks your path. The game's only realy flaw is unfortunately a large one: The three vehicular levels—which seem completely out of place in a point-and-click logic adventure—are just too difficult and frustrating.

Online interaction: Scores can be posted to leaderboards.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the meaning of art and the different places it can pop up in life. Can a video game be art?

  • Why do you think the creators of this game added in the vehicle-based levels? Why did they make them so hard?

Game details

  • Platforms: Xbox 360
  • Price: $10.00
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: 2K Play
  • Release date: October 14, 2009
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief, Crude Humor

For kids who love brain-teasers

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