With the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, The Last of Us Part 2, Cyberpunk 2077, and the Resident Evil 3 Remake, 2020 will forever be a historic year in gaming history. Many amazing titles have been released and more are yet to come. However, I already have my pick for game of the year and that is Pixel Ripped 1995. The game has unique art direction, a fun and nostalgic storyline, and a perfect mash-up of multiple gameplay mechanics. Moreover, throughout my review of Pixel Ripped 1995, I was constantly reminded of my first gaming experiences. If you ever wanted to relive your childhood or feel like a kid again in 1990s suburbia, this game will give you that experience.
Flashback to 1995. These were simpler times when all a kid needed was a CRT television and video games to get lost in. Pixel Ripped 1995 is about a boy named David. All he wants to do is play an action-adventure game known as Pixel Ripped.
Now, dive into the universe of Pixel Ripped, a fantasy adventure game. In this game, the evil Cyblin Lord threatens to take over the world. You are Dot, the hero tasked with defeating Cyblin Lord before it is too late.
But hold on, it gets meta.
Because as Dot, your own powers won’t be enough. You’ll also need a talented player to help you and that player’s name is David. In Pixel Ripped 1995, you are both the player and player character trying to save the world and stand up to the neighborhood bully, all through the power of video games.
With references and gameplay mechanics taken from Zelda, Sonic, Metroid, Castlevania, Mario Kart, Star Fox, and even Final Fantasy 7, this game is a time machine and love letter to the 1990’s gaming scene.
Furthermore, the back and forth banter between your parents is comedic. David’s mother nagging him about playing games really adds to the realism and immersion. At times, I felt like a 9-year-old kid again, desperately wishing my mother would leave me alone for 10 more minutes just so I could get to the next level.
When games are designed well, you can learn how to play the game without a lengthy tutorial or text overlays. In some of the best games out there, like Super Mario, you learn as you go along through trial and error. Pixel Ripped 1995 is no exception. The game had maybe two lines of explanatory dialogue at the very beginning; the rest you were left to learn on your own. Interestingly, the gameplay mechanics change in every level. However, the game design is so good that you can learn all the gameplay mechanics on your own.
In the beginning, you play as David sitting in the living room with a controller in his hand. While there are things going on around you, your focus is on the CRT television in the middle of the room where you are playing a Zelda-like adventure game. At the same time, your mother keeps nagging you to do something productive. To continue playing the game, you must distract your mother by knocking things off of shelves when she isn’t looking. This back and forth between actions in David’s reality and actions within the game repeats itself many times throughout.
Mixed Gameplay Mechanics
I don’t want to spoil the game for you, so I won’t dive into specific details. However, if you played any video games in the 90’s to early 2000’s, chances are you will be familiar with many, if not all of the games that inspired Pixel Ripped 1995’s gameplay.
The brilliant thing is the beautiful insanity of it all. If I told you that I wanted to build a game that combined the gameplay from Donkey Kong, Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox, Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat, and Final Fantasy 7, you’d laugh me out of the building. But developer ARVORE did just that with Pixel Ripped 1995 and they did so beautifully. If we had to review Pixel Ripped 1995 based on gameplay alone, it would get a perfect score.
Out of all the games on the Oculus Quest that I’ve reviewed, Pixel Ripped 1995 is by far the most inventive in its art style. In the game, you are essentially playing retro games in virtual reality. ARVORE takes this a step further and actually shows you the evolution of video game graphics in the 1990s.
You start off playing a well-designed fantasy adventure game with 16-bit graphics. Then the game shifts. The CRT TV disappears, and David’s entire living room becomes the game arena. Later on, David gets a console upgrade and you get to enjoy the early, blocky, 3D polygons reminiscent of Final Fantasy 7 or Banjo Kazooie.
A fantastic and brilliant blend of VR and retro games, you’d be hard-pressed to find a game more visually breathtaking than Pixel Ripped 1995 on the Oculus Quest.
Soundtrack and Audio
The soundtrack of the game is simple yet nostalgic, especially as the game switches genres frequently. However, the sudden shift in soundtrack and sound effects helps signal the change. This quickly gets you immersed in each individual genre, despite switching back and forth between them.
Truly, it is the retro game soundtracks and sound effects that really bring the nostalgia factor. If you’ve played retro games before, you’ll feel right at home with this. However, if you have no experience with retro games, Pixel Ripped 1995 can still be a fun and new experience for you.
Lastly, the voice acting in the game is really well done. From your parents to the neighborhood bully, the well-scripted and well-performed dialogue really helps give the game a quirky personality.