Back in 1995, I’d have been a young boy of around five years of age. The console in my house would have been a SEGA Megadrive, and I’d have been playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, and possibly Bubsy, back when his name wasn’t mud.
Pixel Ripped 1995 takes us back to those simple days of gaming, where small screens were fine, a few buttons were enough, and parents were still convinced that video games were cancer-causing agents hellbent on turning us innocent kiddies into mass-murdering psychopaths. OK, not everything has changed.
Pixel Ripped 1995 is a very cool game that serves as a homage to the early days of gaming but uses the most modern medium available to do it. It’s fascinating and brilliant all at once, and even though I didn’t play the first game – a mistake I will soon correct – I had a belter of a time with Pixel Ripped 1995.
In the Pixel Ripped 1995 universe, video game worlds are very much real. The game starts with you in a monochrome, old-school Gameboy-style room playing a handheld game. But you’re in the game. And you’re playing a game inside the game. Meta as heck, then.
Then, the walls shift and you’re suddenly in a world of colour and slightly better graphics. Welcome to 1995, baby!
The game’s hero, Dot, needs to save her world from the evil Lord Cyblin, though it’s not an easy task. The evil Lord Cyblin soon tricks our hero Dot, causing mayhem and chaos. Dot needs to team up with the best player in the world, and that player is David, a 9-year old boy from New Jersey, not a fat basement dweller with a neck full of beard.
The first level starts in a very familiar setting. A CRT TV stands before you, slightly higher than eye level, forcing you to tilt your head backwards to look up at the screen. There’s a console resting on a box, and the floor is strewn with litter, game magazines, and game boxes. It’s a near-perfect recreation of my childhood gaming den, and it comes complete with a nagging mum. She doesn’t like that David plays video games so much, and during this first level she’s constantly turning the game off. This is probably the most realistic and relatable thing to ever happen inside a video game.
The games that David plays throughout the story are based on hits from the era. You’ve got a Legend of Zelda style game, a Street Fighter-wannabe, a Sonic knock-off, and more. I won’t spoil the surprises, because they’re genuinely fun little nods, and it’s cool to see them playing out on the in-game TVs.
But how does this all work inside the PSVR headset?
Pixel Ripped 1995 is controlled completely with the DualShock 4 controller, and your in-game avatar, David, always has a controller to hand. It’s simple enough and works well, though it can be a little shaky at times due to the nature of the PSVR’s tracking. Still, it was never unplayable, but it was a little awkward at times.
During some boss battles, you need to use your in-game hands to do other tasks, like shoot a toy gun, throw bananas, or even change gamepads, and it’s here that things got a little fiddley as you need to release one hand from the in-game controller by pulling the R2 or L2 triggers, and then pulling them again to pick up an object while moving your in-game arms around by moving the DualShock 4 controller around. It causes a bit of a disconnect between brain and hands. Though it’s not terrible, I did find myself a little jealous of my colleague on our sister site, Pure PSVR, who got to review the game on Oculus Quest using the touch controllers, which must have felt a little more natural.
There’s plenty of fun to be had with Pixel Ripped 1995, and although it’s not a very long game (around five hours by my count) I didn’t feel hard done by when the credits rolled. I enjoyed most of what the game had to offer and appreciated the little nods that only us gamers would get, as well as the pop culture references scattered throughout the game.
Boss battles were by far the most exciting parts of the game. It’s during these sequences that the video game world breaks free into the real world, dishing up epic boss fights (or as epic as they could be in 1995.)
These sequences were great, apart from one boss battle that takes place in the back of a car, forcing you to throw bananas out of the rear door. It was clumsy with the controls and was the only time I wished the game would hurry up and let me move forward quickly.
Graphically, Pixel Ripped 1995 is a winner. The in-game worlds are nicely done and the few human characters that make up the cast are well-acted. The Dad character was a particular highlight for me, if only because he reminded me of how my Dad was when I was a kid, and how I am now; a bumbling fool trying to stay hip with the kids by staying interested in video games.
Pixel Ripped 1995 PSVR Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Pixel Ripped 1995 gives us old coots a chance to go back to travel back in time and re-live a slice of our childhoods, and for younger players to get a look at the things we had to go through to play a bloody game back then.
- It’s fun to play old-school knock-offs, though I wish they were longer.
- Looks great and the attention to detail to the in-game games is impressive.
- It’s basically a nostalgia-shaped shovel hitting you in the face, complete with a knock-off Blockbuster video store.
- Occasional shaky tracking
- Clumsy hand-tracking controls
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.