By Quentin H. / March 28th, 2023
Platform(s): PlayStation VR2, Meta Quest 2, Steam
Release Date: Summer 2023
Pixel Ripped 1978, developed by ARVORE and published by Atari, is the third game in a VR series that does an amazing job replicating the experience of trying to play a video game inside the VR video game when the entire world around you is trying to distract you at the same time. During GDC 2023, I was invited to try out the latest demo build in PSVR 2 for Pixel Ripped 1978, and I found a beautiful, amazing, retro-realistic experience that I completely fell in love with.
The demo took place almost completely inside the Atari Sunnyvale Studio at my own personal desk when I was trying to play and debug an old Atari-inspired title. The office felt like something out of the 1970’s, and while it was a stationary spot (you couldn’t leave your desk), I found a handful of things to interact with such as a corded telephone or conception drawings to fool around with. You can tell that Atari gave ARVORE full license to leverage the Atari brand, to make sure that Pixel Ripped 1978 felt realistic, and to make this VR game as retro as possible while firmly planting it in the first video game era. After looking around for a short bit, I used the PlayStation VR2 Sense controllers to pick up the Atari CX40 joystick with one hand while the other hand gripped the joystick itself with the two side buttons. While still depressing both side buttons, I was able to then navigate my character around inside the Atari game on my computer screen inside of my cubicle with the thumb sticks while also using the other buttons to jump and attack. I found it fairly intuitive to do, although I hated having to hold onto the two side buttons on the Sense controllers in order to keep hold of my Atari joystick. The 8-bit platforming segment for the pseudo-Atari game both felt and sounded like they could have really been part of a 1970’s Atari cartridge, and I could tell that ARVORE took a lot of time and care to craft that experience.
Eventually, I would hit a roadblock in the pseudo-Atari game, and so I would then activate a special mode to go into the game itself to fix the problem. Inside the game-within-a-game-within-a-VR-game, I could use locomotion to walk around, shoot enemies, and even reach my hand behind my back with the right Sense controller to grab a melee weapon to attack. The locomotion was incredibly smooth, and the combat was both incredibly accessible and fun. I never once felt like I needed to get up from a seated position while playing, and I did not feel any bit of VR sickness despite the amount of zigging and zagging that I did to avoid enemies so I could shoot or melee them. The world was also incredibly colorful and vibrant to look around in. It was a very linear VR experience (fitting, because that is what Atari games are!) with minor platforming skills required. The combat itself was definitely fun. I did not find it difficult, and it provided the correct level of challenge that anyone with even mediocre gaming skills would have fun doing. I found myself switching constantly between meleeing and shooting, depending both on how I felt at the moment and what kind of enemy I was facing. Honestly, it was almost a real shame to finally ‘fix’ the bug in that particular part of the game and return to the real world to keep playing with the Atari CX40 joystick again. Pixel Ripped 1978‘s gameplay seems to go back and forth between playing an 8-bit game on a virtual computer screen until I ran into another bug that I would have to go back into the game and fix in the VR world. While the Pixel Ripped 1978 demo was for a pseudo-Atari game, there are real Atari games that players will encounter in the full game.
The ‘real world’ segments have their own unique moments of fun, too. If you’ve ever played either of the prior two Pixel Ripped games, then you know that you have to keep trying to play video games to save the world from the evil Cyblin Lord while your teacher, family, and others constantly demand your attention and/or block the gameplay screen. This is something that is incredibly realistic for anyone who grew up trying to play video games with family around or who ever snuck a Nintendo GameBoy into a classroom to play beneath their desk. Pixel Ripped 1978 only builds upon that. In my demo, I kept having my Atari coworkers come by my desk or shout at me to get concept art (which I have to hand to them) or to throw back a football over the cubicle wall. All of these little distractions firmly placed this newest entry into the Pixel Ripped franchise, and showed that the series was not about to abandon what made the first two games great.
Overall, I loved this game demo and I wanted to spend more time playing it. I have previously played the first two games in the Pixel Ripped series, and this newest entry felt both like a natural evolution of the franchise while also moving it forward. I am honestly excited to pick up the full game when it is released and see everything that ARVORE and Atari have in store for me to explore.
You can preorder Pixel Ripped 1978 now on the PlayStation VR 2 and Steam.
Have you played either of the Pixel Ripped series’ prior entries?
What classic Atari games are you hoping to explore in Pixel Ripped 1978?
Let us know in the comments below!
AtariAvoreDotGame Developers ConferenceGDCMeta QuestMeta Quest 2Pixel Ripped 1978Playstationplaystation vrPSVR2SteamSunnyvalevirtual reality