- Posted by Carl Lyon
- On September 3, 2015
- 0 Comments
There’s a massive market for nostalgia, both genuine and manufactured. There’s a reason why 80s cartoon/toy lines are being rebooted into summer blockbusters. There’s a reason why fashion is devolving back into day-glo colors. There’s a reason that there’s a massive burst of new games that look like they were meant to be stored on a cartridge as opposed to being saved on a terabyte hard drive. Nostalgia is one of those driving forces that keeps us wistful for youth as we drudge our way through adulthood, and a way for us to try and make the younger generation see that things were better.
Adventures of Pip falls squarely into the category of low-resolution recollection, an action-platformer whose mechanics are equal parts classic and creative, nostalgic and newfangled. It follows Pip, a single pixel whose world is a sort of computerized caste system: the upper crust boast higher resolutions, where the lower-end sprites are relegated to being serfs. The evil Queen Derezzia throws the world into chaos in her bid to become high-definition, and it’s up to the lonely red pixel Pip to defeat her and rescue the Princess.
While it may not tickle your more intellectual side, the story sets up for the game’s unique mechanic: evolution of resolution. Pip can switch between a pixel, an 8-bit character, and a 16-bit sprite, each with special abilties to traverse the game’s levels. As a pixel, he can jump higher and float great distances. As an 8-bit sprite he can cling to walls and punch enemies. Finally, in his highest-resolution form he can decimate enemies and blocks with a sword. The game makes heavy use of each of the forms’ abilities, requiring you to evolve and devolve constantly throughout each of the levels, sometimes mid-leap. It’s definitely a member of the new school of old school hardcore platformers, with a difficulty level that at times can border on sadistic. It doesn’t approach the cruelty of, say, Super Meat Boy, but the game’s expectations of precision and scant number of save points had me throwing my Xbox One controller on more than one occasion. Given developer Tic Toc Games’ history (they boast several former members of retro studio Wayforward), this is not surprising, but it’s no less frustrating for it. However, when you truly fall into the game’s rhythm and pull off a particularly nasty string of actions, it’s undeniably satisfying.
While the game’s intentionally low-res look doesn’t lend itself well to critique, the art direction is bright and cheerful, and the game’s score by Jake Kaufmann (Shovel Knight) is alternately breezy and bombastic. The smoothness of certain animations belie the game’s pedigree, which makes it feel a teensy bit disingenuous, but the whole thing is crafted with such love and care that a few modern nips and tucks can be forgiven.
Adventures of Pip is available now on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii U, and PC.