If compiling a list of underrated games in 2015, Adventures of Pip would be near the top of the list. It may be a little rough around the edges, but there’s a lot to love here, and fans of classic 2-D platformers should not let this game slip through the cracks.
You play as Pip, a seemingly helpless single pixel in a world teeming with 8-bit and 16-bit characters. Against all odds, you embark on a quest to save a princess. Yes, the story is about as cliche as it gets, but a closer inspection, the game features novel gameplay concepts that help separate it from the pack.
The first thing you’ll notice is the pixel art. Vibrant and colorful, Adventures of Pip showcases wonderful art direction through its use of different styles of past gaming eras. You start off as a single square pixel, but you soon learn how to transform into 8-bit Pip, and eventually into 16-bit Pip. Of course there’s an extra layer of polish to these styles thanks to the newer hardware, but it captures the essence of past consoles perfectly.
Adventures of Pip does a great job of teaching you new mechanics by virtue of stage design. Instead of a bland tutorial on wall jumping, you’re forced to figure out how to do it in order to simply progress. Then, when learning that wall jump, you unavoidably stumble onto a secret area, teaching you about the existence of such areas in a concise manner.
What makes this game so special is the way it handles transformations between different character evolutions. By bouncing on certain enemies, you upgrade to the next tier of definition. Your original pixel form can basically only jump and glide, but when you turn into an 8-bit character, you can also punch and grab onto walls. The 16-bit character adds a sword swipe necessary for advancing in certain areas.
However, it’s not as simple as it seems; each of those evolutions have different sets of features as well. Speed and weight play a factor in many sections of later stages in the game, and you need to carefully transition between different forms in order to progress. It’s a clever system that always keeps you on your toes. It makes you feel like a badass when you succeed, and while no puzzles were especially confusing, the game is certainly not easy and requires skill to complete.
Adventures of Pip features a rudimentary upgrade system in a single town located at the beginning of the game. You can upgrade you attack or your health in various ways, and you can also buy items like health potions and temporary invisibility. None of these things are essential, but they can significantly impact the difficulty of the game if you feel like you’re having a tough time. You purchase these items by collecting pixels, a form of money that can be found in treasure chests and by killing enemies. Additionally, you can rescue three villagers that are either hidden or in tough-to-reach places in order to achieve a perfect score for each level.
The music makes you feel like you’re a sailor embarking on a grand adventure. It’s majestic in a good way, reminiscent at times of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Pip also controls wonderfully, a necessary component of making a game with multiple character stats enjoyable.
Unfortunately, certain elements of the game are unnecessarily annoying. When you’re low on health, you hear the obligatory annoying beeping sound, something which has long ago outworn its welcome in games. When is this annoying sound ever a good idea? There are also a fair share of cheap deaths which kick you back to an earlier section of the level, as the player couldn’t be expected to pass through without “learning” by dying.
There were also some glitchy situations where the game kept inadvertently switching between the TV and the Gamepad screen, seemingly when the gamepad was tilted one way or another. This only happened near the end of the game, and while it didn’t break the experience, it was frustrating to endure.
Adventures of Pip is a fun game that rubs that nostalgic itch while introducing enough modern play concepts to keep newer gamers on their feet. A few confusing design choices don’t detract from the enjoyment of the experience, and while the story won’t win any awards, there’s humor to be found at many turns. Novel character transformations and mostly solid level design make this a must-play for fans of retro platformers.