Pixel Ripped 1995 review — A lovingly crafted VR homage to the 90’s

I may be showing my age here, but for me, the 90’s were the epitome of gaming. While games nowadays are far more technical and impressive, there is a simple kind of magic that stems from watching gaming evolve from simple sprites to fast-paced side scrollers and 3D worlds. It was a time before online capabilities, a time when smack talk was handled at the local arcade, and a time when insane rumors of (usually fake) hidden secrets in games spread like wildfire, with no internet to confirm or deny their existence. Pixel Ripped 1995 encapsulates this era so well that it brought me back to my own childhood, stirring up long forgotten memories and left me enthralled for the duration of its charmingly clever campaign.

For those unaware, the Pixel Ripped series revolves around a hero named DOT and her quest to take down the evil Cyblin Lord. To do so, DOT seeks the help of an 11-year-old child named David, whom she can team up with to tackle a variety of video games. While the concept is simple, it serves as a fantastic foundation which allows Pixel Ripped 1995 to parody an assortment of game genres in clever ways, ranging from simple side scrollers and beat-em-ups through fully realized 3D worlds.

Pixel Ripped tells two stories simultaneously, DOT fighting Cyblin Lord and David struggling with bullies, along with having his love of gaming accepted by his family. Both stories are well executed, with David’s story ultimately being a surprisingly heartfelt look at family and the power of working together and DOT’s story echoing those lessons while providing quite a few exciting moments. It’s not Shakespeare, but it works and is far more in-depth than I expected going in.

This short, nostalgia-filled game takes place over 6 levels which progressively become more complicated as video games evolve. Making great use of both the game designs of that era and PSVR2 features, Pixel Ripped’s levels consist of working your way through lovingly crafted homages to gaming classics, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Castlevania, and The Legend of Zelda, while using VR features to fight off distractions and take down bosses.

A few examples of the creative use of VR on display include using a toy gun to knock over items to distract your mom so she doesn’t turn off the TV, throwing bananas out a car window to take down a boss while competing in a Road Rash inspired race, continually turning the TV off to avoid being caught gaming after your bedtime, and even swapping between two games to bring powerups and other items from one into the other to reach your goal. Despite only lasting about three hours, Pixel Ripped is chock full of imaginative uses of VR and surprisingly fun gaming parodies.

Speaking of gaming parodies, I was surprised by the quality of the games, basic as they may be, included in Pixel Ripped 1995. The Castlevania homage, in particular, is fantastic and features a hilarious parody of a Simon Belmont type character who is as brave as he is cocky and dumb. The only game I thought could use a bit more polish was the Streets of Rage inspired beat-em-up which, while fun, felt a bit clunky – especially when you are attempting to survive in both the beat-em-up level and the VR world.

Each level ends with an impressive VR-based boss battle which pulls elements from the game you’ve been playing while throwing in new VR obstacles which will test your reflexes and multi-tasking ability. The last boss fight in particular is an incredible spectacle, pulling elements from every previous level and forcing you to jump between play styles quickly, while rarely providing a moment of respite. While the game is never too hard or frustrating, it still serves enough of a challenge to remain fun and provide a sense of accomplishment.

Even though the game is relatively short, each level does have cleverly hidden collectibles to find, often hidden in areas which are quite difficult to navigate. Finding enough of these collectibles will unlock new outfits for DOT, adding a small, but welcome, reason to replay levels after your initial playthrough.

The Pixel Ripped series has been around for quite a few years and is near universally praised, and for good reason. While I enjoyed the latest entry in the series, Pixel Ripped 1978, I found 1995 to provide a much more rounded and overall fun experience, mixing creative uses of VR with fun game parodies in a short, but well-paced campaign. Despite 1995 being a port of an earlier entry in the series, it feels fresh and new and will more than likely find DOT a plethora of new fans.

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Richard Allen is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various publications. While he enjoys modern gaming, he is a retro gamer at heart, having been raised on a steady diet of Contra, Mario, and Dragon's Lair.  Chat with him via @thricetheartist on Twitter.



Pixel Ripped 1995

Review Guidelines

Pixel Ripped 1995 is a fantastic game which expertly combines well-crafted game homages and VR features to provide an enthralling, albeit short but well-paced, adventure. DOT’s never-ending battle against the evil Cyblin Lord provides the perfect backdrop for this adventure, and the surprisingly heartfelt story about family adds an extra layer to an already impressive game. Those looking for a hit of nostalgia or just a well-rounded VR game need look no further.

Richard Allen

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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