Pixel Ripped 1995 review for PlayStation VR2

Platform: PlayStation VR2
Also On: PS VR, Meta Quest
Publisher: ARVORE Immersive Experiences
Developer: ARVORE Immersive Experiences
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Pixel Ripped was a largely unknown game series to me. I never really checked out any incarnation until this review, so I went in with fresh eyes and an open mind. What I found is a pretty cool experience that is great for as long as it lasts, but doesn’t give much reason to revisit once completed.

What we have here is a game within a game, so to speak. You are playing classic 8 and 16 bit style video games in a virtual world. The world around you is alive and can be interacted with while playing, and the game you are playing within the world also continues at the same time. It’s all a little trippy and intimidating at first, but as you progress, you get used to everything. You play a Character named DOT, who is the hero of Pixel Ripped. You begin by playing a very simple game and destroy the main bad guy, the Cyblin Lord, or so you think. It seems that the Cyblin Lord has broken time and space and has escaped into the future. Now, DOT and a human player from 1995 have to join forces to stop him and bring peace back to the Pixel Ripped world. You spend most of the time as the Player, David, as he just tries to play his game.

The world around his is constantly distracting him (and you) from playing and you have to switch from playing to distracting those around you so they basically stop bugging you. From throwing an item to steer attention away from you, to shooting something with a nerf gun, you will always have some sort of ability to distract the real worlders. Sometimes, a game is too difficult to beat so, you have to switch games (and systems) and have DOT enter new games to complete the ones you are having trouble with. The constant switching and distraction tactics are a large nuisance and I occasionally became irritated because I had to stop playing to shut everyone up. But, this mechanic is what Pixel Ripped is all about, and let me tell you, it’s pulled off flawlessly. The games themselves are styled after games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Castlevania and Metroid, but not to much that you’re playing rip off of these titles. They are fun and engaging and you really want to concentrate on them, but the real world keeps getting in the way.

Most “Boss” fights happen in the real world however, as both worlds will merge for a short time. These are really cool battles as you have to use a combination of controller and real world objects to win the battles. One has you battling a huge 16 bit truck and fighting aliens on motorbikes while riding in the back of a station wagon. As DOT, you battle the aliens with the controller, and actually throw bananas from the back of your real world car to slip up the giant truck. It’s amazingly put together and makes for a great experience. You’d think these fights are only happening in David’s head, but they are not as everything that happens does have consequences that brings about the next “level”. Like when the characters burst out and break the game cartridge and your family TV.

The graphics here are very cool and well animated. From the virtual world of the game, to the real world scenarios, everything looks and flows great. Some of the real world character models look a bit like early Nickelodeon cartoons with few facial expressions, but the style does nothing to take you out of the game at all. The video game world is amazing looking, especially when you actually enter them as DOT for short cutscenes. When the worlds mix, it looks seamless and fits very well together. You are limited in movement, as you are basically standing in front of a pixelated character or are placed in front of a CRT screen with controller in hand. You can look around, but there isn’t much to see as the real world is sparsely decorated.

The sound design is great, as the games sound as they should with classic 8 and 16 bit flair, while the real world characters are all voiced professionally and very rarely say the same thing twice. Control for the most part is fine, except those times where you have to reach for another controller or a distraction item. Occasionally the game will give your trouble grabbing an item, and you may miss something. It doesn’t happen often though, and the game does a good job of correcting your hand placement, but there were times where I messed up an event because my virtual hand went out of control. Not a huge deal, as anyone with VR experience is used to this.

Pixel Ripped 1995 is a very unique game that is a good time while it lasts. Everything presented is blended exceptionally well, but this game may not appeal to everyone out there. As a retro enthusiast, I became more interested in the actual gameplay of the classic games and less in the virtual world around me. Sometimes you can get very frustrated with what’s going on and wish you could just throw the controller at a characters head (especially the little rich neighbor kid that no one in town likes). But seeing that this is the entire nature of the game as a whole, I’d say the execution is spot on.

There isn’t much to come back to once you’ve beaten the game, so replay value is basically non existent here. Overall, Pixel Ripped 1995 is a fun and very unique experience that everyone should try. Definitely a good addition to the ever growing PlayStation VR2 Library!

Note: ARVORE Immersive Experiences provided us with a Pixel Ripped 1995 PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: B+