Pixel Ripped 1989 is a game within a game. Although to be honest it’s not the game within the game that’s the main draw here.
Before I start though let me talk about my issues with the game. Now I’m not sure if this is a PSVR problem or not, but in the second level, I encountered a bug, which for me at least, made the game unplayable. In this level, you are in a school classroom and have to distract the teacher while you play on a handheld gaming device. The problem for me was the device was stuck in the girl’s skirt, meaning all I could do was nothing. Recentering the controller did nothing, neither did restarting the game, although bizarrely when I decided to leave it until the next day it was working fine. So maybe I should put it down to a glitch.
Back to the game, and the plot sees you playing as Dot, who in the world of 1980’s video games is basically out to stop an evil overlord from destroying the land. To do this he enlists the help of those with the best high scores. This includes the aforementioned Nicola, who plays her handheld in class, all while trying to distract the teacher with a spitball and straw.
What’s great about this is you are playing two games at once. The Handheld game, where you run along in an old-style 2D platform, jumping over obstacles and shooting at enemies, while also trying to aim spitballs at various targets in the classroom, helping to distract the teacher, who would otherwise send you to the headmaster.
It really is so much fun when you hit one of the targets and a bunch of Brazilian players run in to shouts of ‘Goal’ and start dancing and celebrating in front of you. If you think that sounds bizarre then, believe me, that’s nothing.
What’s interesting is you use the Dualshock 4 to play the game, while head tracking is assigned to the straw. Using the controls in this way really does make it feel like you are controlling a real handheld, which is just as well as the 2D game is just as tough and unforgiving as you would expect. Yes, you have unlimited lives and multiple checkpoints, however, it does get very challenging at points, especially when you are trying to fight a boss at the same time as fending off any non-game distractions.
Away from the classroom, you’ll take in other areas of the school such as the headmasters office and the playground, you’ll wave around a Power Glove and if you’re old enough to remember, will be drowned in nostalgia thanks to the appearance of a Walkman and other nods to the 1980s, be that in the form of gaming or something else.
Pixel Ripped 1989 is a fun, if not short-lived experience, which for me sadly included getting stuck for a day and the game being rendered unplayable. Thankfully though this managed to resolve itself and from that moment on I had a lot of fun. I’ve no real nostalgia for 1980’s Nintendo gaming myself, although I am partial to playing Alex The Kidd now and again, but those who do love the 80’s may very well get a kick from Pixel Ripped 1989.
Overall, it’s the little things, such as the celebrating Brazilians which make Pixel Ripped 1989 a fun experience, although If it wasn’t for VR it’d most likely be a game I would avoid.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*