2018’s Pixel Ripped 1989 offered a unique blend of virtual reality (VR) entertainment mixed with 8-bit retro nostalgia, blurring the line between modern gaming and that of 30 years ago. Pixel Ripped 1995 continues that formula in a crucial era when videogames were transitioning between 2D and 3D, 16-bit to 32-bit. But can that same recipe work again whilst offering a fresh experience?
What that means for those who haven’t seen the first title is playing console and arcade videogames inspired by famous ones from the 90s in addition to interactions with the ‘real’ world in which your character inhabits. Pixel Ripped 1995 is a story-driven adventure where the narrative does arc between the two titles but can still be enjoyed without playing the former. Dot is a videogame character tasked with saving her home once again from an evil goblin called the Cyblin Lord, she does this by inhabiting skilled players, this time its 9-year old David to the rescue.
Just like the videogames the title is paying homage to, Pixel Ripped 1995 can be a frantic arcade experience, albeit a somewhat watered-down version. Jumping between genres, from beat ‘em’ ups and platformers to shooters and racing titles, those of a certain age who enjoyed gaming in the 90s will have instant flashbacks to some of the greats, their pros and their cons.
Most of the chapters tend to feature nods to a couple of titles from the decade, with the main level differing from the final boss each time. Name a 90s videogame and its probably in there in some form, Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat, Road Rash, Star Fox, Sonic the Hedgehog and Castlevania to name just a few. As mentioned these imitations aren’t quite as hardcore and unforgiving as the original videogames but that’s not to say certain latter sections are easy.
The trickiest mechanic to get to grips with is mixing between operating the digital controller and then interacting with the VR world. A good portion of Pixel Ripped 1995 is playing on a console, looking at a TV screen. Moments will then arise where you’ll have to multitask with the off-screen world, the best example of which – and most relatable – is the bedroom level where David is trying to play late at night, against the wishes of his mum. Make too much noise and she’ll wake up, giving you a few seconds to grab the TV remote and switch it off, after which she’ll go back to bed. This can become a little repetitive if you’re not careful yet this is also where Pixel Ripped 1995’s charm lays.
Pixel Ripped 1995 is unapologetically romantic when it comes to its delivery of retro gaming, which is no bad thing, although not all gamers are going to feel the same way about it. Thankfully, the experience offers enough variety in its gameplay that no matter your age it’ll offer enjoyment on some level. One big help is the comfort level, most players shouldn’t have an issue as Pixel Ripped 1995 is best played seated with little reason to spin around. Most of the action takes place within a 180° FoV so sit back and relax.
It might be a step up from the first instalment but Pixel Ripped 1995 isn’t all plain sailing. The title does suffer from a lack of depth, each moment quickly moving to the next with no time to really enjoy the world the developer has created. A few more interactive elements to a scene could’ve helped ground you in the world more. Also, NPC’s dialogue can become monotonous and mechanics like the Nerf gun get overused but these are minor quibbles.
ARVORE has certainly learnt from Pixel Ripped 1989, both in terms of scope and gameplay, Pixel Ripped 1995 is a premium retro experience from start to finish. There’s a wonderful mix of aesthetics employed across the campaign which offers around 4-5 hours of gameplay. For a VR title Pixel Ripped 1995 can feel a little constrained and linear plus there doesn’t seem to be much replay encouragement. However, all in all, there’s still plenty of fun to be had.