Adventures of Pip

8.5 Overall Score
Graphics: 8/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Sound: 8/10

Fantastic Pixel Art | Tight Responsive Controls | Great Soundtrack

Game Breaking Bug | Ability Upgrades

Game Info

GAME NAME: Adventures of Pip

DEVELOPER(S): Tic Toc Games

PUBLISHER(S): Tic Toc Games

PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U

GENRE(S): Platformer

RELEASE DATE(S): June 4th, 2015

In Tic Toc Games’ Adventures of Pip, the Pixel Kingdom is under attack by the evil Queen DeRezzia, who is unhappy with the pixel gap of its citizens.  Because of this, she decides to kidnap the princess and steal her ability to manipulate the Bit Stream. You begin your adventure as a single pixel, the lowest and most disregarded resolution in the kingdom. While this is an integral part of the story, it also plays a part in Pip’s gameplay and design.

Throughout Pip’s adventure, he will run into a cast of characters and, with their help and that of the princess’, will be given limited use of the Bit Stream to evolve into 3 different versions of himself. Here is the hook: each version of Pip grants you different abilities that you will need to use in order to find hidden treasure, villagers who escaped, and to complete each level. Single pixel Pip has the ability to jump and bounce higher as well as fitting into smaller spaces. 8-bit Pip moves faster (probably due to actually having legs now), is a little heavier, and has the ability to wall jump. 16-bit Pip is even more heavy and slower but also stronger, which allows him to push and pull blocks, the trade off here being that he can no longer wall jump. Oh, and he has a sweet sword he gets to use to beat up baddies and destroy special blocks.

The-Adventures-of-Pip-555x250

As you progress through the story, these evolutions become a bigger and bigger part of the overall gameplay experience and level traversal. In order to evolve, you will have to defeat a specific enemy in the area that is in tune to the Bit Stream; after doing so, Pip will evolve into the next higher form. This is where the puzzle elements of the game come in. You will have to figure out which version or versions of Pip you will need to use in order to progress on to the next area of the stage. As an example, you may have to use 16-bit Pip to destroy the ground below, devolve into 8-bit Pip to grab hold of the wall, and then jump down on a moving platform where you need to be the single pixel version to bounce up to a high ledge in a single sequence.

While this may sound overly difficult or problematic, it really isn’t because the whole process is easy to execute, thanks to the tight and responsive controls. It also helps that the enemies you need for evolution will respawn and are usually placed somewhere right before you’ll need to evolve. The level design is excellent, providing just the right amount of difficulty and trial and error so that it never becomes frustrating. If you miss a jump, you know it’s because YOU messed up not because the game is trying to make you do something impossible.

Adventures-of-Pip-1024x576-0f14bbec53298c5aNot only are the levels designed well from a gameplay perspective, they are also really nice to look at. Pip shows off just how beautiful pixel art can be and what it can bring to the experience. Much like our hero, the complexity of the pixel art for the levels and enemies continue to evolve as you play. From the beginning forest level to later on in the caves, the changing styles and complexity really help lend to the sense of progression, wonder, and wanting to see what’s next. And some of the art here on display was WOW inducing from me, but that shouldn’t be a total surprise given the pedigree of some of the developers.

But none of this would have the impact or atmosphere it does without a good soundtrack and sound design. Pip does not disappoint here either. While the overall sounds in the game are heavily inspired by the 8- and 16- bit classics, the soundtrack is not and goes for a more orchestral and emotional feel. It strikes a really nice balance and I’m glad they went this direction, as it helps Pip stand out in the crowd.

adventures-of-pipHowever, even with all this good stuff, there are a couple of things that I think just miss the mark and I want to talk about. As you play Adventures of Pip, you will receive pixels for defeating enemies and finding treasure chests. These pixels are used as currency to buy Boosts and upgrades back in town as the vendors become available. The only problem is I didn’t even realize they were there until I was almost done with the Adventure. Whether I missed the dialog that explained it to me or not, I’m not sure, but it made them come across as an afterthought to me rather than an integral part of the gameplay experience. When I went back and purchased some, I really didn’t see a huge impact on gameplay either, other than the benefits of an increased health bar but, again, I didn’t really have an issue in the first place. I also experienced some abrupt stutter in gameplay from time to time as well, which are very noticeable because of how smooth the game runs the majority of the time.

The Recommendation

In what seems to be a sea of “retro” inspired indie 2D platformers on the eShop, Adventures of Pip stands out. With its tight, responsive controls, great level design, and character evolution mechanics mixed with simple puzzle design, Adventures of Pip a blast to play. There are a variety of pixel art styles, ranging from extremely basic (Pip does start out as a single pixel after all) to some of the downright beautiful character models and environments also making Pip a visual adventure.

The only complaints are that the upgrades feel tacked on and don’t make a huge impact on gameplay, odd frame rate stutters, and a bug I ran into late in the game that would not allow me to go any further (though admittedly I’m working my way through the game again in hopes I miss it this time), and this seems to be an isolated incident, as I found no mention of it on Miiverse or some of the online messages boards for the game. If you are a fan of the genre and if you may even be a little burnt out on it, you should definitely pick up Pip. Tic Toc games has created an experience that can proudly sit beside other indie greats like Shovel Knight, Affordable Space Adventures, Guacamelee, and Teslagrad, to name a few.

Summary

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Author: Ryan Shiflett View all posts by
Life-long Nintendo fan who loves videogames from all genres, generations, and devs. Play games not Consoles.