Imagine a world where pixels of all shapes and sizes are welcome to the fight. Where the 8 bit hero can stand their ground right alongside their 16 and 32 bit counterparts. If this perks your ears in the slightest, take a nostalgic ride through Adventures of Pip. With simplistic platforming and a charming tale, this little indie has the potential to put a smile on your face. It may not be a top-tier contender, but enough for a retro gamer to give a shot.
You begin your journey in a royal land of peaceful pixels, when the haunting Queen DeRezzia comes to spoil the party. Kidnapping their princess and putting the kingdom in peril, it’s up to Pip, a single red pixel, to save the day. Eventually being able to transform into 8 bit and 16 bit forms, you must traverse each challenging landscape until all is saved and glory is brought back to the kingdom. Is this the same cookie-cutter story of many years past? Yes. Does the game make up for it with rich, exciting gameplay and new player experiences? Well, no.
One selling point that I can say Tic Toc Games brought to Adventures of Pip would be the pixel changing forms of our hero. Starting out as a single red pixel, you have the ability to jump and float in air until you land. As you evolve into the 8 bit form, you now have the ability to move faster, wall jump, and punch enemies. Finally leading to the 16 bit Pip, who is bigger and moves slower, but is now equipped with a sword to combat enemies and the ability to push stone blocks. The way the levels are designed require you to constantly switch between all forms, utilizing each of their special skill sets, to solve puzzles and navigate the level to completion.
An interesting part of the form switching mechanic is you can go backwards to the 8 bit and single pixel versions, but not back up again. In order to ascend back to the 16 bit Pip, you have to kill floating blue crystalized enemies and absorb their power. Thankfully you never have to look too far for them, they are graciously placed throughout every level. Controlling Pip has its ups and down. There were times in my playing where he felt responsive and intuitive, while in other instances (especially 8 bit Pip), the controls were very stiff and sticky.
These moments of platforming blunder can lead you right back to the sometimes almost punishing spaced checkpoints. Not every time, but too frequently I found myself questioning if I had accidentally restarted the level, but then realized it was just a painfully placed checkpoint. At times I really enjoyed this retro platformer, but not as many times as I felt bored. I was left to feel disengaged by re-used graphical assets, and portions of the game that felt way too drawn out and of filler-like quality. The potential of Pip is strong, but the game he was placed in is weak.
Visually, Adventures of Pip invites you to an interesting premise, but doesn’t keep your attention long. There is nothing visually stimulating or unique to draw your focus. The thematic worlds carry the same design throughout each of its levels; very rinse and repeat style. It’s an injustice to have such cool features and abilities with a character like Pip, wasted in a boring, predictable landscape that isn’t quite unique or engaging. Blah textures and bold unused space is too often the case in Tic Toc games work here. While boss animations tend to shine a bit brighter here, I was left wanting more eye candy.
Sound design in Adventures of Pip smoothes over the intended experience well. It’s classic chiming score keeps your ears entertained over the many levels, and feels like it could hang with other NES/SNES classic titles soundtracks.
Overall, Adventures of Pip has the possibility to bring home the memory of side-scrolling glory. If you don’t mind being plagued with repetitive levels, non inviting visuals, and a predictable story, this may be worth your time to scratch that platforming itch.
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