As gamers we cherish childhood memories of spending hours on end in front of a screen. All those countless hours spent clutching a controller and playing video games instead of doing homework or, you know, socialising. All those “wasted” years. And if we had the power to change it, every one of us would do it all over again. That’s because those magical times hold a very special place in all our hearts. Pixel Ripped 1989 may be the closest we can get to reliving some of those moments.
Pixel Ripped 1989 ripped me from my chair and threw me back to my childhood (pun intended). The game opens up with the oh so familiar color palette of the Nintendo Game Boy. That is because you are in a handheld console named the Gear Kid. The game then sends you in the shoes of a young kid called Nicola, sitting in a classroom and holding the Gear Kid. From here on your job is to play a game on the handheld while avoiding getting into trouble in the “real” world.
As a kid all you want to do is play your video game and be left alone but your teacher doesn’t seem to think that activity is suitable for class so they won’t stop yelling at you. The way you, playing as Nicola, handle this is by shooting things in the classroom with a spitball gun and causing all kind of absurd shenanigans to go down. Shooting things distracts the teacher which in turn buys you time to play your game. After some time Nicola leaves the classroom and you get to play your game in relative peace that is until the main enemy from the game steps into the 3D world, but I won’t spoil the whole experience for you.
So far we have talked only about the 3D aspect of the game. Now let’s take a look at the 2D game that Nicola and by proxy you loves so much. In that game you control an 8-bit hero named Dot. This 2D adventure is very heavily inspired by the Mega Man series of games. You get to run, jump, shoot and collect some pixels. It’s not much but back then they didn’t have complicated gameplay mechanics and had to rely on having rock-solid fundamentals. And rock-solid they are. The controls are tight and the platforms are placed with immense care and thought. Every once in a while the Gear Kid screen spills into the 3D world creating some interesting 2.5D gameplay.
Art Style and Game Feel
The gameplay may be a big part of why I like the game, but it is not what caught my eye in the first place. That would be the nostalgia filled blast from the past I got from every second of looking at the trailer. Floppy disks, cassette tapes, Rubik’s cubes, multicolor pens, etch a sketches and Game Boy cartridges are a few of the things that a younger person may have never seen that can be found in the game. Oh and a Playtoy magazine that I would be a bit worried if kids playing this game get.
The game is also filled with references to classic games. The Legend of Zelda, Doom, Megaman and Ghouls and Goblins are just a few games referenced in Pixel Ripped 1989. All this along with the creative transition between space and the 2D and 3D worlds make this game very immersive.
Pixel Ripped 1989 is a wonderful blast from the past for every gamer who grew up in the era of 2D games. Creative gameplay nostalgic setting and immersion on par, if not better than most AAA VR games. The game can be found on Steam. The developer and publisher ARVORE have released it on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR. With its only down side being a relatively short play time Pixel Ripped 1989 is an easy recommendation from me.