Back in Time
I had no idea I missed the train when Pixel Ripped 1989 was released. I can honestly can say I regret not getting the ticket. Pixel Ripped 1995 is one of the best representations of my childhood that I’ve ever come across. PR95 is whats best described as a game within a game. Honestly, the best way to explain it, is to play through the intro level. I slip on the PSVR headset and like a dream, I find myself sitting in the living room floor. I’m wearing a full suit of cotton pajamas and the floor is covered with gaming magazines and junk food. In the background is the overbearing parent, who ironically enough is named Karen, pacing around the room berating you for constantly being glued to the TV. The moment the lecture stops the phone rings and Karen is relaying your incoherent behavior to your grandmother.
Once you find your bearings, you reach down and grab the oversized game cartridge and slam it into the console. The clicking into place is just as satisfying as it was 25 years ago. The game powers up, with your mother still pacing back and forth, and you start to play. Nostalgia hits extraordinarily hard here as the game sounds start to ring a bell (Sonic the Hedgehog and Metroid are heavily referenced) and the vivid colors remind me of platformers like Tomba.
Within a few moments, Karen’s voice fades into the background, becoming eerily reminiscent of my own childhood. A moment later when you glance back over, she is slowly encroaching on your position. A dart gun has magically appeared in your hand and you begin panning around the room to cause a distraction. If you miss, Karen shuts of the game and you lose several moments of gameplay.
Throw into the Mixer
Just when you start to get comfortable with the game play loop of distracting Karen, the game starts throwing 2D and 3D/VR into the mixer and spitting out some incredibly fun and hilarious game play that I haven’t seen before. The stereotypical evil wizard magically breaks the game cartridge allowing the game world to spill out onto the floor in front of you. Cue the boss battle that consists of your pajama wearing self providing covering fire to your 2D hero as the fight keeps you busy on two fronts.
I Love the Smell of Nostalgia in the Morning
If any of the above brings back memories, then this game is for you. It clearly has a target audience and it absolutely caters to it. From the Super NES style console to the generic mall video game store (complete with game display demos that you can play), this game oozes the mid 90s gaming culture. All pop culture references revolve around the first half of the 90s and watching the 2D era give way to the 3D.
Controlling the Past
I’ve always found that in 90% of VR games, the one common issue is the control scheme. One of the most, and honestly only, frustrating parts of PR95 was this exact issue. When you’re moving your hands around and interacting in the VR portion, the motion controllers are clearly the way to go. However, for any other moment in the game your basic game controller is far superior. In my case this was the Dual Shock 4. In most cases, the best option was to revert back and forth between the two types. The major downside to this was that half of the time I had to either shut the game off to switch types, or just embrace the suck and use one or the other.
Sticking with the Dual Shock 4 worked better for me, but it’s still a long way from convenient. Using the DS4 to interact with anything outside of the 2D portion required me to readjust my position in front of the camera several times. Even after adjusting, your onscreen arms wound up looking like a half eaten bowl of ramen.
A Grand View
Luckily, one area that doesn’t cause issues is the in game motion. The only character motion, aside from moving your hands, is in the 2D sections. This is extremely helpful in two ways. The first being, that you don’t have to contend with awkward controls and awkward motion at the same time. The second being that if you’re prone to motion sickness, you don’t have to worry about that here. In any VR game, I usually wind up with a small amount of motion sickness at least once or twice. Especially in games with fast directional motion, such as Doom VFR. Luckily in this case, we never have to worry about that here. Throughout my four and a half hour playtime I never encountered any motion sickness whatsoever.
Overall this game is a blast, especially if you enjoy the memory of the games from your childhood. It’s well worth the $15 asking price compared to many of the other options out there. There’s not a lot of replayability here and I could see the game play loop getting repetitive after a while. However, thanks to the short run time and changing back and forth between viewpoints and objectives, this title stayed fresh for my entire run through.