Adventures of Pip Hands-on Preview: Pixel Perfect
We’ve previously featured a preview for TicToc Games’ Adventures of Pip, which has now been funded on Kickstarter and is ready for its retail debut sometime this May for multiple platforms. While at PAX South I had a chance to get some hands-on time with Pip, and I now have to agree with Nick’s glowing preview of the game. It definitely is an Indie gem that faithfully pays homage to classic 2D side-scrolling adventures like Super Mario Bros. and other 8 and 16-bit juggernauts from the 80’s and 90’s.
Adventures of Pip stars, well, Pip, who is a single bit inhabitant of Pixelonia, which is a 32-bit kingdom with a caste system based on bit size. Due to Pip just being a single bit he’s a nobody in the eyes of higher bit citizens, so he is relegated to the bottom rung of society. Although, once the Skeleton Queen kidnaps the Princess, Pip is the only pixelite brave enough to save her, so his legend can be forged anew.
To help with his journey Pip is taught the secrets of the Bitstream by a ghostly knight, which allows him to absorb the energy of his foes to increase his bit count to gain more abilities. This gameplay mechanic is what sets Pip apart from other 2-D side-scrollers thanks to the puzzles that revolve around it. For example, in 8-bit form Pip can scale walls and take larger jumps, but while in 1-bit form he can shimmy his single square self through tiny crevices and pathways that his larger forms couldn’t pass through.
Players must devolve and evolve to progress, and when you add in sections that feature ceilings closing in on you and platforms to climb while avoiding being squished to bits (sorry for that one couldn’t pass it up), the gameplay gets quite frenetic and challenging without feeling unfair. It’s hard not to be reminded of some of the castles from SMB3 that had spiked ceilings looking to pancake your plumber of choice while frantically navigating Pip through similar gameplay tropes as you curse your brain and fingers for not being able to keep up with the action. Moments like this make you feel alive, which sometimes is a lost emotion in modern video games, especially the AAA franchises that spew out sequel after sequel.
The gameplay is tight and intuitive just like you remember from the old days of gaming when two button controllers ruled the day, but its visuals may be even more of a love letter to the games Pip pays homage to. I absolutely love the concept of Pixelonia being a 32-bit world full of pixelized citizens that are relegated to classes based on their number of bits. This motif shines with Pip, who after all is just a single bit to begin with, but after obtaining the power of the bitstream he can transform into higher resolution versions of himself. It’s quite nostalgic to see him morph into an 8-bit styled character, evoking memories of Mario and Luigi in their NES debut, while his 16-bit form will remind you of your days spent playing games on the SNES and Sega Genesis. The environments also reflect a classic appeal, so when mashed with the awesome character design Adventures of Pip is a beautiful game to look at and live in.
Pip is set to make his debut on Steam’s Early Access sometime this March, with plans to release in full this May for the PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U platforms. Pricing will be modest at $15, which is well worth the joy and nostalgia this game can bring into your life. Older gamers with kids should also plan on snagging Adventures of Pip to show their burgeoning young gaming enthusiasts what games used to be like when the home console craze kicked off over 35 years ago. This game truly epitomizes the Indie movement, and it’s a testament to the passion these developers have to set off on their own and create the games that make them happy. There’s something to be said about marrying work with your passions, so TicToc Games has definitely embraced this life lesson and produced a piece of moving art because of it.
You can check out some Adventures of Pip gameplay after the break.
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