Pixel Ripped 1995 Review $19.99
3.5

Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Pixel Ripped 1995 transports you back in time, to December of 1995 as the release of the Ultimate 32 game console looms. The game is a nostalgic journey through all the tropes of growing up as a gamer in the 90s and earlier.  

As you don your VR headset, you’ll take the role of David, a 9-year-old boy who just wants to play his video games. Little does he know, he’s deeply entwined with the protagonist of his game, Dot. In the world of Pixel Ripped (the game inside the game), the Goblin King seeks to steal the pixel stone and wreak havoc in and outside the game. The story itself isn’t much to write home about. But, the flavor of David’s world makes playing through Dot’s story worth it. While you play, your annoying neighbor will start taunting you with all manner of classic “I’m better than you” type taunts and lies,  your mom will attempt to stop you from playing, and your dad is just generally clueless.  

How this manifests in the gameplay is where things begin to get interesting. While you play games as David, you’re sitting on the floor, or the couch, looking at the screen, or wherever else you feel like looking. Quickly elements of the game start to encroach on the real world. Early on, you can use a blaster gun to knock over things to keep your mom distracted long enough to not turn off your console. Each level changes up the way you’re interacting with or mitigating real-world elements. While the games David plays are less than stellar, changing consoles, shooting distractions, and the other interactions make it worth it. 

The boss battles are also unique and fun. Each level ends with an enemy bursting into the real world somehow, and David needs to use whatever is available to help Dot defeat the various minions of the Goblin King. The checkpointing can be less than stellar, however, as the game uses a Sonic style rings system. Well, they’re gems here, but it’s the same idea. You get hit once, and you lose the gems you’ve collected.  Get hit again and you’re dead. In the multi-stage fights, it can be annoying to get hit by a stray attack and find yourself restarting from the beginning of the fight. Especially when there is a limited amount of background dialogue to listen to. 

The games that you play through are dull, although if I went back to many of the games I played in the ‘90s I’d most likely think many of those are dull as well. They’re not super fun and are mostly there to evoke nostalgia for the idea of a thing, rather than trying to create a good version of it. The levels aren’t exceptionally long at least, so you won’t be dealing with them for long. There are occasional twists on classic games to keep you on your toes, but you shouldn’t be visiting Pixel Ripped 1995 for faithful recreations of your childhood favorites. 

The experience of playing on the Oculus Rift S is excellent, and imagine it translates just as well to other platforms. You can use a gamepad to play the game, but I found it best with the Oculus Touch controllers which enable you to quickly interact with the world in a natural way. You don’t need a lot of space either, you can easily play the game in a stationary position standing or sitting. 

The music attempts to evoke nostalgia but doesn’t attempt to be anything more than a general nod towards the games that you’re being reminded of. I’m struggling to remember the music at all, as it’s so easily replaced by the more iconic music of the era.   

As a VR-focused experience, Pixel Ripped 1995 feels more novel than essential. The games you play over the course of the story are shallow while leaving the 3D levels for the final act of the game. The build-up to that moment feels like it should result in a much bigger section of the game and would have allowed for more unique experiences, rather than playing another bad side-scrolling brawler. If you own a VR headset and want to delve into some childhood nostalgia, Pixel Ripped 1995 is a great way to do a bit of time traveling. 

Pros

  • Delivers strong feelings of nostalgia
  • interacting with the “real world” and “game world” simultaneously is fun.

Cons

  • The games you play are poor facsimiles of the real thing.
  • Background dialogue can be repetitive.
  • Hand-tracking can be finicky.

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