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Virtual Reality and nostalgia collide in Pixel Ripped 1989

Being on the more experienced end of the gaming spectrum (AKA old), I’m a sucker for some 8-bit nostalgia. That’s why, when I first heard of Pixel Ripped 1989, I couldn’t wait to feature it on an episode of Ian’s VR Corner.

Pixel Ripped 1989 transports you back to the years of my youth, putting you in the shiny black school shoes of Nicola – a 9-year-old gaming fanatic from London whose handheld Gear Kid console might as well be surgically attached to her palms.

The game started life as a school project before its developer, Ana Ribiero, converted it into a demo for the Oculus DK2 and then, finally, the full-blown video game for both Oculus and PSVR that you can see me playing in the video below. It’s a true passion project made by someone who grew up with gaming and it provides an incredibly unique VR experience which needs to be seen to be believed.

Pixel Ripped 1989 is a purely seated affair and it’s controlled exclusively with the DualShock 4 on PSVR. This means it’s especially great for VR newcomers with a budget setup.

The position of the controller in your hands is mirrored in the virtual world where it becomes Nicola’s Gear Kid console. On this handheld you control Dot as she tries to recover the Pixel Stone from the evil Cyblin Lord (who looks a bit like Wario). However, only part of the action takes place on this tiny, monochrome screen and it’s the way that the handheld game and Nicola’s VR version of 1989 collide which makes the experience so interesting.

The first level sees you trying to complete the first world of Pixel Ripped without being spotted by your incredibly cranky teacher. It’s an exercise in multitasking as you play the game whilst also using a peashooter to fire spitwads at items dotted around the school room. Knock something over and it’ll trigger a series of crazy events that will distract the teacher and give you a few extra seconds to concentrate on navigating Pixel Ripped’s platforms.

Whilst playing a game within a game is quite a unique concept, it does come with some limitations. Due to the low resolution of the PSVR headset the action on the Gear Kid’s screen can often became quite blurry during busy moments. There were times when I could feel my eyes straining to keep up with the action and this made things rather uncomfortable, but I’m going to assume that the Oculus headset won’t be as affected by this problem.

On first playthrough there’s also quite the sensory overload which can lead to moments of frustration as you learn how the rules of the world work. The many layers of overlapping audio and the chaotic movement of the occasionally sloppy assets can make certain situations rather confusing until you learn to tune things out, but once you’ve worked out the basics, pushing forward isn’t too challenging.

Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!

Pixel Ripped 1989 is a relatively short game, comprising of only four chapters with limited replayability. It’s on sale at quite a low price, though, so you won’t feel completely (pixel) ripped off. The gameplay is rather basic and the presentation leaves something to be desired at times, but the nostalgia factor, the creativity and the amount of love poured into it mean you can easily forgive the rough edges.

Pixel Ripped 1989 is out now on Oculus and the US version of the Playstation Store. The EU version, however, is currently stuck in Sony’s European certification process. This means eager PSVR heads on this side of the pond will need to wait an estimated two weeks before they can play it.

If you enjoyed this episode of Ian’s VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist, where I get silly with Kona VR, Salary Man Escape, The Exorcist: Legion VR, Killing Floor: Incursion, The Persistence and Detached.


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