Long time readers of VRFocus will be very familiar with the Pixel Ripped saga; a virtual reality (VR) exclusive videogame that started life as a student project for Brazilian Ana Ribeiro, then studying at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the UK, Pixel Ripped has evolved countless times over the years. Now, in the final few weeks prior to the launch of the first chapter, Pixel Ripped 1989 is looking set to deliver a hugely compelling 2D videogame in a 3D VR world.
The plot of Pixel Ripped 1989 is a little confusing at first. Playing as Dot, the hero of the fictional Pixel Ripped videogame series within the world of Pixel Ripped 1989, you are tasked with preventing the Cyblin Lord from destroying both the videogame world and the real world as he attempts to merge the two. In order to do so, you enlist the help of Nicola, a young girl currently living her normal life at school. In actuality, the player embodies the character of Nicola playing fictional videogames within the VR world.
The videogame Nicola plays in Pixel Ripped 1989 is a 2D platform title inspired by Game Boy titles of the era, including the visual limitations of the device. In the first level of Pixel Ripped 1989, the player engages in some basic (albeit rather challenging) platform action on their handheld Game Kid console while in a VR classroom environment. The teacher of this class is, unsurprisingly, not best pleased by Nicola’s attempts to play videogames during lessons, and so the player must distract her by interacting with objects in the environment in order to provide the opportunity to look down at the console and continue playing. It’s a genuinely enthralling mix of VR and 2D gameplay unlike anything else the medium has yet offered.
As the player continues through Pixel Ripped on the Game Kid they will encounter all manner of fourth wall-breaking interactions, culminating in a boss fight that refuses to remain in the tiny 8-bit device. Pixel Ripped 1989 isn’t afraid to use its premise to allow for some grand set-pieces that change the established formula of the videogame in a heartbeat, and with that players will undoubtedly want to push on just to see what ludicrous gameplay mechanics will be thrown at them next.
Along the way Pixel Ripped 1989 pushes all manner of homage to past videogames at the players, from infamous lines to familiar settings and much more besides. At times it’s almost as if characters have been incorporated for the sole purpose of delivering punch lines or a specific reference just to make the player smile, and that is certainly no bad thing. Pixel Ripped 1989 knows its core audience is the mature gamer, and plays exactly to that at all times.
Over the years Pixel Ripped has changed form many times: where once the player could engage in mini-games within the VR world, now the core gameplay is the 2D action while the VR activities surround that familiar experience. Pixel Ripped 1989 is both unique and challenging, and is looking set to offer the satisfying look at past videogames within the most modern of mediums that it initially set out to.