In the face of all the new games with intricate and over the top mechanics, sometimes you need an old school puzzle platformer that harkens back to the simplicity of the good old days. Platformers, a genre as nearly as old as video games itself, have evolved throughout the years with new mechanics yet have remained essentially the same. While players still jump over pits, avoid enemies or slay them using a variety of methods, and navigate mazes to reach the end of levels, each game has added its own twist to the formula to keep things fresh. The Adventures of Pip, one of the latest releases in the genre, goes straight back to the 2D days, offering old-school pixel visuals and side-scrolling action, but it’s also an ode to the evolution of the genre itself, with a core gameplay mechanic that allows players to transform the titular character into three distinct versions representative of video game generations. Not only is Adventures of Pip a unique game, it’s also a pretty fun one too.
The Adventures of Pip
Developed and published by Tic Toc Games
Available on the PC and Wii U. Reviewed on the PC.
*Review code provided by Tic Toc Games
The Adventures of Pip is a simple and straightforward 2D adventure, with players taking control of Pip, a single red pixel in a fantasy hi-res and lo-res world. After the princess of Pixel Kingdom is kidnapped by an evil Queen DeRezzia and many of the citizens are devolving into smaller pixels, the King and Queen beckon our hero to venture forth and save her, and hopefully restore order to the land in the process.
Being that the hero is just a sole pixel, Pip doesn’t really have much going for him at the beginning at the beginning of the game, venturing through a world that’s way more developed than he is. As a pixel, Pip can only jump, gently float towards the ground, and hop on mushrooms for a higher jump, which is enough to get past large pitfalls. Additionally, a la classic platformers, he can also hop on enemies, dealing damage that dispatches small foes. It’s enough to clear the first stages, which are merely obstacle courses with few enemies, various pits, and crazy jumps that are assisted by the mushroom trampolines, but soon enough players encounter routes that require vertical climbing and also strange pink blocks that bar the way forward.
That’s when the game’s unique evolution/devolution system kicks in. After meeting the ghost of a former hero, certain enemies begin to release pixels upon their death that when collected evolve Pip into a 8-bit version of himself, granting him the ability to cling to walls and wall jump, allowing him to scale vertical surfaces with ease. Pip in turn however loses his former 1-bit abilities, like floating jumps and the ability to bounce, so that means that big pitfalls and the need to float can be a big issue with an 8-bit Pip. Thankfully, our hero also gains the ability to devolve as well, which not only helps with navigating the constantly changing obstacles on the path to rescuing the princess by allowing Pip to shrink back to a 1-bit version of himself again, but the devolution also results in an explosion that clears the pesky pink blocks mentioned earlier. All players have to do is hold a button to explode and devolve, clearing the blocks away and shrinking to a previous form to reuse the previous abilities.
Things get even more complicated later on, when players encounter enemies that can’t be jumped on, or blocks that can’t be destroyed by devolving. That’s when Pip’s third form comes into play, which grants him a 16-bit look and a massive sword to boot. Pip is heavier in this form and can’t hardly jump, but the sword absolutely demolishes tough enemies and is also powerful enough to destroy the devolve-immune blocks that block your progress.
The ability to transform Pip as needed actually works quite nicely within the game, as it has let the developers craft some very tricky stages that have players evolving and devolving rapidly to navigate the often treacherous, trap and enemy-laden paths, often times testing twitch reflexes. Not only is it challenging stuff, it often leads to some cool and often satisfying moments of death-defying stunts.
The Adventures of Pip also features boss battles that have players thinking on their toes as they face large foes that could easily take out the hero in a couple of hits. Each boss has a specific attack pattern though, so careful observation, quick reflexes, and skillful use of Pip’s three stages are required to bring them down to size. These bosses add some nice variety to the gameplay, while testing players control over the evolution/devolution mechanic.
The game also features a number of collectables as well, adding some replay value to the experience. Each stage features three hidden collectable villagers, who are often located in side paths and hard to reach places. Some of these villagers open shops in the town hub, which offer purchasable items – like extra heart containers, potions, collectable detectors, special powers, and equipment that can grant Pip new abilities – that can be bought with collected coin found in stages. There’s also hidden treasure in stages too, which grants a large sum of money if you can find them.
Overall, The Adventures of Pip is a fantastic 2D platformer that remains true to the genre’s roots while adding a cool evolution/devolution feature that lets players experience classic elements from different console generations. The gameplay is solid, the platforming intense, and most importantly, it’s pretty fun and addictive. If you like classic platformers and are looking for a great time, you definitively should give The Adventures of Pip a chance.