What were you doing in 1995? I was 14, loved my MegaDrive, my SNES and was probably watching Pinky and The Brain or some weird 90's cartoon. They were simpler times filled with childish wonder, full of innocence and before I had to pay taxes, do the recycling and when I could play video games without worrying about my 'adult' responsibilities.
Pixel Ripped 1995 is the sequel to ARVORE Immersive Experiences' quirky VR title, Pixel Ripped 1989. While I had not played the previous game, I do know of it. This follow up follows a very similar principle, it involves games within games, nods to famous gaming classics and some very unique, fun and clever VR gameplay.
You spend most of the game as David, a young boy who loves his video games. You must save the world from an evil force by doing what you do best. Playing so many video games massively irritates your mother but luckily your easy-going father acquiesces to it all and fights your corner somewhat. You must play an assortment of familiar 32-bit and 64-bit video games to rid this world of evil. Sounds awesome, right?
In your various video-game based shenanigans, you will be controlling Dot. She is your video game based heroine for this adventure and she is a bit of a bad-ass. Is there nothing this woman cannot do? Fly, ride, jump, fight and solve puzzles. What a woman! She will jump from game to game as you meander through this madcap video game based adventure.
What makes Pixel Ripped 1995 special is the way you interact with several worlds at once. How various video game scenarios and systems work side by side with astounding success. In-game you can look down and see yourself with a controller in your hand and play a full-blown classic video game on a small CRT screen in front of you.
That is the game at its simplest but while you are gaming away on your retro console you must do other tasks in order for you to complete your game. Ranging from the wacky to the weird, various things will try and get between your thumbs and saving the world. For example, your mother will try to angrily turn your console off and you must take one hand off your controller and use it to distract your mother with a dart gun. It's brilliantly bonkers.
What is amazing about this is that the dart gun was collected in the game your playing and just pops out the CRT screen ready for use. Pixel Ripped 1995 does a massive amount of this fourth wall breaking stuff and I love it. At one point you are in a video game shop and are playing two demo stations at once and can pass items between the two games to progress. You are playing two games at once, inside a game, inside VR and they affect each other. Just think about it, it's like a video game version of Inception.
The sheer amount of video game jokes, video game references and game genres you play is astonishing. To name a few I remember playing games that are remarkably similar to Sonic, Metroid, Castlevania, Road Rash, Star Fox and Streets of Rage and everything from the enemies to the music really sends me back to my youth. It's a beautiful homage to our favourite past-time and I really felt the developers love for the subject matter.
During your time within Pixel Ripped 1995, you will be playing beat-em-ups, platformers and defeating some of the most outlandish bosses I have faced for a while. When you fight the bosses they normally come out of the game your playing and you must fight them in a mixture of first-person action as Dave and also controlling Dot from whichever game you were playing at the time, it is just another part of Pixel Ripped 1995 that shows how unique it truly is.
Graphically Pixel Ripped 1995 is beautiful. Not realistically beautiful but artistically beautiful. Each video game genre and each era of video game graphics is recreated wonderfully. Everything is bright, crisp and attractive. The character models are good, the pixel art is great and I really enjoyed looking at everything this game had to offer.
It's the same story with the sound design. The music is amazing, each age had a soundtrack that was very close to the game it was faithfully paying homage to. Each time I dropped into a new video game the sights and sounds sent me spiralling back to the games source material. As I said earlier, the developers did a great job to make everything feel authentic.
Performance-wise, Pixel Ripped 1995 performed flawlessly. Zero crashes, zero bugs and everything just worked. The VR implementation was also very good, there is nothing worse in VR than VR 'messiness'. There was none of that here, no tracking issues, no camera adjustments, there was nothing to detract me from enjoying this unique and wonderful VR title. The whole game is just simply, a joy to play.