Over the past 20-30 years, gaming has come a long way. In their infancy, video game consoles had just 8-bits, with characters that were nothing more than a box with a few lines coming out to mimic legs. Over the years, gaming systems have evolved and nowadays you can walk through lush forests and swim underwater as if you are really there. Being able to do things like that is amazing, but sometimes you long for the simple nostalgia of the early days.
Adventures of Pip takes you through gaming’s early graphical evolution, while confirming that when it comes to video games, size doesn’t matter. When faced with the evils of the hi-res world, Pip shows that the smaller, lo-res characters still have something to offer. Metaphorically speaking, this is true of the game he stars in as well. Amidst a sea of 1080p blockbusters, Pip proves that you don’t need to be hi-res to be memorable.
Here’s what I liked:
Physics made fun — Games always use some sort of physics to get from point A to point B. The running jump and the double jump have pretty much become platformer staples. What makes Adventures of Pip different is the fact that Pip evolves and devolves through three different forms: single-pixel Pip, 8-bit Pip and 16-bit Pip, and each form has different strengths, abilities and physical weight. The developers took advantage of these different weights and abilities to challenge the player. There are times that you may need to morph into a smaller version of Pip in mid-air to gain enough momentum to make a big jump. Or you may need to level up to the 16-bit heavyweight Pip in order to sink down far enough in the water. The fact that each form has its strengths and that you need each to get through every level is something I really enjoyed. In a lot of games, once you get a stronger character you end up relying mostly on that character, but that’s not the case here. In fact, the strongest character is 8-bit Pip because he can jump pretty high, isn’t too heavy and can cling to walls.
An epic soundtrack — Jake “virt” Kaufman, known for his work on Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Bloodrayne: Betrayal and Shovel Knight, composed Adventures of Pip‘s music. His score is fantastic. I couldn’t decide if I was fighting in a medieval castle or entering Jurassic Park, but the tone was definitely reminiscent of some sort of epic adventure. The soundtrack helped pump me up and encourage me to keep going during some of the game’s more difficult points.
No more sad “Game Over” music — Finally, a game that doesn’t make you worry about running out of lives. The concept of limited lives is absurd to me in this day and age. It used to be that when you ran out of lives your game was over and you had to start all the way back at the beginning. This added something to the game because you had to constantly worry about collecting coins or other power-ups to keep you from having to start all over. For the past 20-ish years, though, almost every game has been allowing you to continue after losing all your lives and starting right back where you left off before dying. The only real penalty is the time you waste having to wait for the stupid “Game Over” screen to run and your game to reload. Adventures of Pip, like most of today’s indie side-scrollers is at times as challenging as yesteryear’s blockbuster side-scrollers were. But it’s refreshing that Pip blunts this some by adopting the contemporary approach to continues, so you’ll die often but won’t need to worry about running out of lives.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
This seems impossible — Overall, there wasn’t much I disliked about Adventures of Pip. But if I have to pick one thing that really drove me nuts, it was that some obstacles seemed to have no solution. I would get to these parts and hope I had saved up enough hit points to run through and not die. I’m not sure if Tic Toc intended it to be this way or if I was just missing the solution. Either way, it was frustrating to feel like I had no other choice but to hurt my poor little hero in order to progress.
After playing Adventures of Pip at this year’s PAX East convention, I immediately felt like I was going to love this game. I remember saying to my editor that day that I wanted this review when it came out. As excited as I was to get it, I was also a bit nervous upon receiving the code. I have a lot of time commitments, and I was afraid that Pip would end up being ridiculously hard, and I wouldn’t finish it in time for the release date. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, Pip isn’t easy, but it is just hard enough to challenge you while still being enjoyable. The abilities of the different characters and how you use them makes every level different, keeping things fresh and making you want to continue on and see what the next challenge has in store for you.
Score: Buy It
Adventures of Pip was developed and published by Tic Toc Games. It was released August 21, 2015 for $14.99. A copy was provided by Tic Toc Games for review purposes.