Pip Pip Hooray!
Adventures of Pip is a 2D platforming title filled with action, adventure, and a delightful gameplay twist. The combination of its novel ideas and great platforming mechanics from games like Castlevania, Guacamelee, and Ninja Gaiden, makes Tic Toc Games’ first console project an outstanding start for the developer.
Adventures of Pip immediately hits you with the old-school aesthetic. It is hard not to notice the intricate character sprites, beautiful pixelated environments, and simple but deadly enemies. But despite how it might sound, Adventures of Pip isn’t one of those games that keeps yelling, “Hey! Feeling nostalgic yet?!”. Early into the game it becomes apparent that the visuals play a role into gameplay and story. After that point, it’s clear that Adventures of Pip isn’t trying to tug at the heart strings of your childhood, but rather create a universe of its own.
In Adventures of Pip, you play as Pip, a lowly single-bit boy whose kingdom is being attacked by the evil Queen DeRezzia. DeRezzia has the power to control the Bitstream, this is a very vague concept that is basically what everything is made of. She uses this power to turn the King and Queen of the land into single-bit blocks like Pip, and of course, kidnap the Princess. While many may assume the plot hinges on this archetypal and demeaning trope, two things prove that wrong. First, the Princess is much more than a damsel in distress. As you progress through the game, you’ll learn that she hasn’t just been sitting in a dungeon waiting for you. She plays a crucial role in the game through her own bitstream powers. Secondly, the game isn’t about her, it is about Pip.
After witnessing the King and Queen being transformed, you get a taste of what the world is like. The King and Queen ask you to go find a hero to save their daughter because you can’t do it. Throughout the game, no one believes in you because of the way you look. Pip is the underdog. He beats the foes and challenges that face him, and not because he looks like a hero, acts like a hero, or fights like one, he does it because he is just doing what is right. Like all the other great underdogs in history Pip has heart… and help from some friends. In the early stages of the game, two figures will help you on your journey and give you the ability to transform into an 8 and 32-bit form as well as give you some hilarious advice. At a glance, this mechanic may seem counter-intuitive to Pip’s underdog persona, but as gameplay will show all forms are equal.
The ability to change form is Adventures of Pip’s fun and exceptional twist on the 2D platforming genre. With the touch of a button you devolve in resolution, and you can’t change back until you kill a certain enemy. Each form of Pip’s has different physics and abilities. His block form is very floaty, buoyant, bouncy, and small. 32-bit Pip is the complete opposite as he is heavy, and unaffected by trampolines, fans, and water. 8-bit Pip is the perfect balance for the two other forms. They each have a special ability as well. Block pip can glide, 8-bit can wall jump Ninja Gaiden-style, and 32-bit has a sword and can move objects. There are many more differences between the forms, but to list them all could be its own article. The main difference is the physics behind the forms and the environments around them.
Level design in Adventures of Pip is phenomenal and builds off of the evolve/devolve mechanic. You are constantly given a stage that looks overwhelming but with the options you are given you can often overcome it in many ways. There are times when the game forces you into being a specific form to get past obstacles, but finding that out is just as fun. Most of platforming gameplay feels like Guacamelee in that you have many weapons at your disposal and you must use them all on every level. On screen, there is so much to take in, but you have the tools to deal with it. Because the game doesn’t fully flesh out the capabilities of each form before giving you the next, players may be overwhelmed by the chaos of an average stage. However, Adventures of Pip teaches you through trial and error as the game progresses. Don’t be fooled by the old school aesthetic again, your errors do not result in a major setback; you will just return to the nearest checkpoint.
Checkpoints can be sparse on some levels, but luckily no stage takes too long even if you explore it to its fullest potential. This is a legitimate problem players could face with the game. While exploring nearly every nook and cranny, finding nearly all the lost civilians, and dying a whole lot due to sloppy mistakes, it only took me roughly 7 hours to complete the game. And there is not much I am compelled to come back for. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, but players with different play-styles may find a much shorter game in Adventures of Pip.
The biggest problem the game has in the gameplay department is its simple enemies. Enemies are positioned in Adventures of Pip to be more like obstacles and less like killers. Apart from the boss fights, the only way an enemy ever feels threatening is through its Castlevania knockback effect. The worst an enemy can ever do to you is take away a heart, but a mid-air knockback can kill you instantly if the environment is dangerous enough. I wish more thought was put into the combat and enemy design, but in its current state, it is a good fit in order to keep the platforming at an incredible quality.
The aforementioned boss fights are no cake walk like the rest of the foes. Every boss ramps of the difficulty, scale, and downright badassery. Each boss has its own unique design, strategies, and weakness that you must study and exploit. You will die a lot each time, but you learn each time you die till you have the winning plan.
The Verdict: 9.0 out of 10
Adventures of Pip is one of the best platformers of the year. It combines the old with new in order to create something special. Though the enemies could have been a bit more challenging, and the game could have had more content, Adventures of Pip is an undeniably fun game to play. On top of its stellar gameplay, it builds an exciting world full of beautiful environments, witty dialogue, amazing music, and a solid story.
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