Pixel Ripped 1989 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Luke Hemming 01.12.2019

Review for Pixel Ripped 1989 on PlayStation 4

The Phrase 'truth is stranger than fiction' is bandied around a lot in this day and age. With the development of Pixel Ripped 1989, however, perhaps never has a phrase been so apt. From its humble beginnings of Project leader Ana Ribeiro leaving her job in the Brazilian Government while selling pies as a side business, to joining a film and game development programme in the UK to bring her idea of an '80s gaming lover letter to sweet crumbly fruition. After completion of the title and a few replays, Ana and developer ARVORE has given this reviewer a reason to strap on the headset again, after a long bout of inactivity and samey, uninspiring efforts by bigger, resource-abundant developers.

What appears to be a simple platformer packaged in a 3D classroom environment instantly defies expectations from the first click of the X (yes, an X - forget how much people want to say cross) button. A story-driven narrative was the last thing expected here, but within minutes of the title screen, world saving stakes were introduced, characters in game were given personality and motive, and the titular hero Nicola inducted in way the Last Starfighter would be proud of.

Screenshot for Pixel Ripped 1989 on PlayStation 4

To save both the pixel world and ours, Nicola must play through the stages of her handheld with one eye on the real world around her to prevent the Cyblin Master open a portal between worlds to rule both. Spatial tracking is achieved through the dual shock freeing up full head movement to soak in the faithful recreations of the gaming environments any late '80s sprog will feel right at home in. Hiding a handheld from any authority figure was standard in a school environment and Ana Ribeiro in a stroke of genius has incorporated this into a tense, addictive gameplay dynamic.

While negotiating levels on the handheld, Nicola is forced to pay attention to visual and audio prompts to ensure that she is not caught gaming. Using objects on the desk such as paper aeroplanes and an unnervingly accurate spitball gun, triggers can be activated to ensure attention is directed elsewhere. Always fun to activate, these can range from a simple knocking of books off the shelf to a football team invading the classroom.

Screenshot for Pixel Ripped 1989 on PlayStation 4

Once sufficiently distracted, Nicola can get back to the important matter of level completion. Level design is surprisingly intricate with multiple paths that can be navigated with game cartridges hidden on every stage. Controls are tight, and when the difficulty spikes in some of the later levels, they can't be blamed for any failures. A dash button is a welcome addition and allows blasting through each stage like a petition fuelled, re-designed rodent. Each level predictably cumulates with a boss battle but again, to say too much would take away the 'this is badass' moment that has been worked so hard for.

Completion should be around three hours start to finish, and this never outstays its welcome. This is one you want to ignore the take regular breaks warnings for. Pixel Chipped 1989 will captivate, and like the handhelds of the early days of portable gaming, is just as hard to put down. With the lure of extra content hidden away one spin is never going to be enough.

Screenshot for Pixel Ripped 1989 on PlayStation 4

Thankfully, for a surprisingly challenging game, the life and health system is a stroke of genius that easily allows for a quick glance between your handheld and surrounding environment, essential to progress. Damage results in a degrade in pixels from a healthy 16-bit sprite to a 1 bit blob. Controller icons also show how many chances you have left before confiscation of the handheld. By using this system, the illusion of VR is never broken by button prompts and in-game HUDS. It's simple but incredibly unique, well thought out and something that other developers should take note of to add a further level of immersion into their projects.

For this reviewer, giving a spoiler free account of Pixel Chipped 1989 has been the hardest so far. There are some many talk-worthy, delightful moments that would be ruined without experiencing them first hand. The best thing to do is grab this ASAP and experience them for yourself, put any delivery simulators or torch wielding space yarns on hold and regress to a simpler, enjoyable platforming experience.

Screenshot for Pixel Ripped 1989 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The amount of fun to be had traversing the excellently designed levels with almost telepathic control intuition would be more than enough to recommend this, but ARVORE has gone above and beyond to ensure this one sticks in the memory long after completion. Easter eggs, collectables, multiple routes, and the sheer love shown in replicating the environments gamers would have snuck a quick gaming session into before tucking into Christmas Dinner and class, come together to give a handheld simulation you wish you could make portable and show as many people as possible.

Developer

ARVORE

Publisher

ARVORE

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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