PIXEL RIPPED 1995 / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: ARVORE / PLATFORM: OCULUS RIFT, PC, PSVR, VIVE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
A couple of years ago, Pixel Ripped 1989 saw young Dot take down the evil Cyblin Lord in a retro-themed adventure that took its influences from classic games of the 80s and brought them bang up to date in virtual reality. Brazilian developers Arvore are back with the sequel, Pixel Ripped 1995, which, as you might be able to guess, is set in 1995, a time when the 16-bit era was coming to an end and fancy new 3D games were blowing everyone's minds.
Playing PR95 is like being part of someone's fever dream. One minute you'll be sitting on the living room floor, playing a Link to the Past-style RPG on TV while simultaneously causing havoc with your toy ray gun to keep your mother at bay, then suddenly you're inside a pixel world that's under attack from the returning Cyblin Lord. A lot of time is spent playing games on a TV screen, but PR95 constantly flits between real and game worlds, often combining the two in some wonderfully creative environments that need to be seen to be believed.
PR95 is about more than just playing retro-inspired games – it's also about how you play them. By casting players as a videogame-obsessed child, completely immersed in a super-authentic 90s VR world, there's every chance anyone over the age of 30ish will be transported back to their youth. Playing spooky platformers in the middle of the night while trying not to wake your parents, feuding with a rival kid at a definitely-not-Blockbuster (almost certainly the closest any of us are going to get to revisiting the glory days of video rental stores), playing beat 'em ups at a ridiculously accurate beachfront arcade (that carpet!)... It's one thing to use old-school influences to make a regular "flat" game (indeed, many games have accomplished this with great success), but to create such an effective homage in VR is something else entirely.
The game's five levels pay tribute to an insane amount of games from yesteryear - some that you might expect, some that you might not, and some that you totally knew were coming but turn up in unexpected ways. Not wanting to stray into spoiler territory, it's enough to say that treats are in store around pretty much every corner.
PR95 is a wonderfully fun and inventive nostalgia trip. It might have been nice to break away from the TV screen and into a full-on VR world a little more often, but still there's nothing else quite like it and we urge anyone with a fondness for the olden days to give it a try.