I use 'retro' in a couple of senses, since the game certainly basks in its pixel art, which has not gone the way of the dinosaur. In fact, it has made quite the strong statement over the last couple of years, reminding players of the tough-as-nails platforming games of old. However, there is a depth and use of color here that shines through, reminding us that this is in fact a modern game despite the somewhat simple pixel style.
In relation to the art, it is worth noting that the music is excellent (it's Jake Kaufman. I mean, who doesn't expect the soundtrack to be awesome when he makes it?) . I cannot put my finger on it, why titles like Shovel Knight (well, Jake Kaufman could be a reason, but it extends beyond his games, I promise) and Axiom Verge manage to nail their soundtracks so expertly, but I have to give credit where it is due. Adventures of Pip has a soundtrack that fits the areas, boss fights, visuals and just overall gameplay to perfection. The sound and graphics meld to create a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Adventures of Pip starts off in fine fashion as our titular hero begins his game as a single pixel protagonist. In this form, it might seem that Pip is quite helpless and limited, especially upon unlocking or evolving him into his other two forms (which have a clear 8-bit and sort of 16/32 bit vibe that they give off). Each of these forms has its own advantages (ranging from combat options, to control tightness and even the ability to fit through spaces to reach other areas). It is a great mechanic that allows Pip to evolve/devolve as needed and reminds of the old Mario games where sometimes it was easier to access a passage as a smaller Mario that lacked the ability to take an extra hit or deal ranged damage with a fireball. That same sort of give-and-take is found here, but it is more pronounced. While the game itself presents a world where the more advanced your resolution is, the more important you are supposed to be, the reality is that each of Pip's three forms has its distinct uses.
This system helps to teach players as they play the levels, and the design of the stages is handled to perfectly handle that learning curve. Each of the game's five worlds and dozens of levels have a unique feel to them as Pip tackles increasingly challenging levels while attempting to rescue villagers (that help to restore poor Pip's destroyed town). The villagers make for a great progression mechanic, though it is sometimes annoyingly easy to miss them. In fact, while the levels themselves are designed well, the hidden paths nestled into so many of the zones felt just a bit too common.
One of the few problems with Adventures of Pip is that it is not a terribly big game. You can beat it in a few hours once you get then hang of things. This is a title that really would have benefited from more worlds, or some sort of a remixed/new game plus/unlocked set of stages, because what is here is well-done, but I was left with the distinct feeling that I wanted more. In fact, if it were not for the hidden passages to find the villagers and the somewhat questionable checkpoints (they can be spaced out pretty far from one another, which leads to a lot of replaying what you've already traversed), Adventures of Pip would actually have boiled down into a much shorter game than it already is.
Adventures of Pip will certainly appeal to the same core group of gamers that enjoy games like Shovel Knight. That is not to say that the games are overly similar. They share an aesthetic and have some solid retro sensibilities at their hearts, but they are two very distinctive games. Personally Shovel Knight is still the better of the two titles, but that is hardly backhanded praise as Shovel Knight was one of my favorite games last year. Adventures of Pip stands on its own two legs (when Pip is high enough resolution to have legs, that is) as a charming, enduring platforming romp.
|Developer(s)||Tic Toc Games|
|Publisher(s)||Tic Toc Games|
Article by Nick