Adventures of Pip PreviewFebruary 28, 2015
In TicToc Games’ action/ platformer Adventures of Pip, the world is made up of pixels. The ruling class have more shape and form due to their higher pixel count, while the poor are left as sad, blocky cubes. A princess is born with the power to absorb pixels. The Skeleton Queen sets out to absorb all the pixels in the entire world, and kidnaps the princess so that no one can challenge her pixel count.
You control Pip, a single pixel with the power to evolve into higher forms. You begin as a single, red block with the ability to move left, right, jump, and bounce on top of enemies in order to kill them. You eventually meet the statue of a knight, named Ghost, that bestows upon the you ability to evolve into Agile Pip. Agile Pip looks like a young boy, more formed, and only a little blocky. In this form, you can punch, kick, and latch onto ledges or ninja jump from wall to wall in order to reach higher places. Eventually, you get a third evolution, known as Strong Pip, where you look more like a fully formed cartoon character. Pip can now wield a sword, push large blocks, but he’s slower, and loses the ability to glide or grab edges. So, you will need to cycle through these different forms in order to progress through the level throughout Adventures of Pip.
However, you can only devolve. From the sword wielding Strong Pip, you can hold a button, and downgrade into Agile Pip – you cannot upgrade with the push of a button. Same goes for when you drop down to your base, single pixel form. In order to evolve, you’ll need to stomp enemies, thus absorbing their pixels, and allowing you to return to your more fully formed states. It sounds complicated, but it’s very simple, and adds a lot of depth as you move forward and decide which evolution best fits the scenario.
The controls in Adventures of Pip are really responsive. Moving the character is smooth, while attacking, jumping, and landing on enemies feels great. Each evolution of the character feels different enough, while the changing scenarios that force you to evolve/devolve feel like second nature within only a few moments of gameplay.
The music in Adventures of Pip is eerie, haunting, and orchestral, with choir voices in the background. Beautiful, if I dare say. It’s not what you’d expect from a game like this, considering it’s based in a pixelated world; I thought the soundtrack would be mostly chiptunes, ala the 8-bit era of gaming. However, the fully orchestrated soundtrack is breathtaking. The music alone was enough to pump me up, and made making my journey through this pixelated kingdom all the more satisfying.
I love the art direction and design. The game is colorful, very vibrant, and full of imagination. The enemy types are varied and interesting, and the subtle animations add a lot of life to the world. For instance, the block character that stops moving if you jump on it while your character has too many pixels, flicks its eyes about. It’s subtle, but gives the character so much life.
Adventures of Pip looks and feels like a glorified Super Nintendo game, in the best possible way. That’s not to say it’s simple looking and primitive. Not at all! There are very nice details like shading on the background elements, pixelated lighting effects that float in the foreground, and everything has several layers of varying color to add depth and shadow.
The platforming segments are really fun. A lot of thought went into the placement of enemies and obstacles, and along with the transformations, feel amazing to move through. In the end, you need to sprint through a labyrinth while blocks close behind you. Stay still, and you’re crushed. It’s fast and visceral as you’re forced to evolve and devolve in certain moments, adding to the overall urgency of the stage. It felt fantastic, and I haven’t had this much fun platforming in a long time.
I also really enjoyed the premise of Adventures of Pip. I’ve never encountered the idea in a video game, but it seems like something that should have been done a long time ago. A pixelated world where the hierarchy is based on pixel count? And I absolutely love the idea of stealing and absorbing pixels in order to evolve.
If there’s one thing I can say that I disliked about the preview demo it’s that it was way too short. Once I reached the end of the stage, I was hoping to be able to move forward. It left me wanting more! It’s that good. The other thing is that, while I adore the platforming and the challenge, I can see how Adventures of Pip can ramp up in difficulty really fast, later. I can foresee some controller throwing rage moments, but hopefully it won’t reach Super Meat Boy levels of difficulty. Aside from that, the game is brilliant.
Adventures of Pip has a lot of promise. I’m really excited for the game, and I look forward to playing more. So far, everything about Adventures of Pip is nearly perfect, and above all else, it’s fun.