Pixel Ripped 1978 Review – Atari Era VR Pixels

Pixel Ripped 1978 Review

Pixel Ripped 1978 from developer, Arvore Immersive is the third game in the Pixel Ripped series but it is the first to be based on a real videogame publisher. That publisher was Atari. The previous two entries, 1989 and 1995, represented their eras via fictional games. The 1989 game is based on the NES era while the 1995 version is based on the 16-bit era.

The Atari games for the 1978 version are based on the pre-NES era, Atari 2600. So all the games and gear are based on official Atari products and bear the official Atari logo. No fictitious game brands found here! This third entry also proves the game within a game mechanic still works and remains fun.

As the third game in the series, some of the weaknesses stand out more. However, if you are a fan of retro gaming predating the NES era, you will find a lot to like here. The Atari 2600 is the console that is the basis for the games found here. Word of warning. If you expect to play such Atari classics and Haunted House and Space Invaders, you will be disappointed.

Much of the game takes place in a first-person point of view. The year is 1978 and you are a programmer for Atari working at your desk. Your job is to test out games and fix any bad code. It is here where the game shines best. The interaction of the real world and the game world is a blast.

Bug & Dot Team Up

The game story involves you as the programmer, Bug, helping the game’s heroine, Dot. Working together as a team, the goal is to navigate multidimensional challenges prevented by the various games to protect Bug’s childhood memories. Memories that the evil Cyblin Lord is after.

While playing games on your CRT, coding errors will show up as literal bugs. To quash them, you hit the side of the CRT and knock them out into your office. Once in the air, you must swat them out of existence. If that is not enough of a challenge, there are distractions to make things more difficult.

You must also engage in all the activities of the job at the same time. So you must answer the phone, sort your mail, and most distracting of all, converse with your co-workers. To juggle all these elements while successfully squashing bugs is the game’s main highlight.

Keeping track of your tasks is easy. Your available tasks are handled differently, depending on which world you are in. In the office, it is a whiteboard. In the game, you wear a PDA that is appropriately retro looking in its tech.

Combat & Collecting

Most of the faltering is due to the combat. It is very basic. You either attack enemies with melee weapons or shoot them. The melee fighting is button-mashing and quickly becomes repetitive. Shooting enemies is easier and quicker. There’s not much challenge and that goes double for the boss battles. They are underwhelming.

The game tries to increase the gameplay time by sprinkling gold Atari game cartridges throughout the levels. Unfortunately, the exploration for them becomes tedious, and collecting quickly becomes a chore rather than an additional adventure.

On the technical, the environments are good in a retro kind of way. The real world is depicted in a cartoony manner. This extends to the character designs too. Some in-game worlds are displayed in an 8-bit pixel manner that honors the games of the 2600. Others take the neon vector style approach.

Audio-wise, the game features retro-inspired music of the era and the Atari 2600’s capabilities. Especially good are the SFX which mimic those of such games as Breakout, Space Invaders, Centipede, etc.

Cool Touches

The phone you interact with in your Atari office has some surprise easter eggs. The voices are those of influential YouTube VR channels. You’ll hear Bryan Paul, AJ, & Myles from PSVR2 Without Parole, GamerTag VR, and both Skeeva and Alex from Beyond Realities to name a few.

As mentioned earlier, one of the niftiest touches in the game is that your peripherals are all modeled on actual Atari hardware. You’ll have the iconic Atari joystick at your office desk with its single red button at the base. Also, present on your desk is the Atari 2600 itself. You’ll pick up cartridges and insert them into the slot.

The beginning and ending office sections are the strongest parts of the game. Where the game falters is the sections where you go into the games. While the graphics and sounds capture the era’s retro vibes, it falters in the execution.

Overall, the game is too easy and you can complete it in around 4 hours. Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Especially if you grew up in the Atari era or are a big fan of the Atari 2600 era of gaming.

*** PS5 code provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Game within a game concept remains fun
  • Occasionally challenging areas
  • Cool VR Moments

The Bad

  • Exploration becomes tedious
  • Combat too simple & repetitive
  • Underwhelming boss fights