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I was sent Pixel Ripped 1978 as a review code. While I am very grateful for the opportunity, this will be my honest review.

The evil Cyblin Lord is back! This time he has gone back in time to change the course of history and make himself the hero. It is up to Dot to go back and stop him before it is too late. With the help of Bug, a programmer for Atari, Dot must fight familiar enemies, find the time crystals, and fix bugs along the way. Can they stop the Cyblin Lord before it is too late?

Pixel Ripped is an interesting concept for a VR simulation game. It is a meta experience where gamers play a game within a game that pays homage to classic eras in gaming. Thanks to the official partnership, this game pays homage to the Atari era of gaming. In Pixel Ripped 1978, players switch between the two characters, each offering a unique experience.

As Bug, players pick up an Atari controller and play through a classic game in order to find bugs to fix. As they play, they will encounter real-world distractions that offer a different level of difficulty than the platforming. Bug has to deal with coworkers, answer phone calls, and deal with people blocking the tv screen while she is trying to beat the game. This mechanic is neat until the novelty wears off. If you are good at classic platformers, the distractions only pose minor inconveniences. But if you aren’t, the loop of distractions becomes tedious.

Don’t get me wrong, the distractions are fun and an interesting mechanic. The interactions are quirky, silly, and there are some fun little easter eggs sprinkled throughout. My issue isn’t that there aren’t more kinds of interactions because that isn’t feasible. My issue has to do with my skill level. Because I am not good at platforming, the interactions become an annoying taunt that got worse the longer I was trapped in the level. If you are good at platformers, this might not be an issue. 

As Dot, you get to travel into the game and fix bugs. The world is vibrant, colorful, and cool. But as I mentioned before, once the novelty wears off, the gameplay feels a bit one note. Dot walks around the game world, shooting enemies and breaking pots. It isn’t a bad experience, but there isn’t anything special to it either. Combat is point-and-shoot, the movement is slow, and while I appreciate the humor involved in the melee attack, it isn’t any more fun. It’s okay for the first few minutes, but nothing that you should be rushing to try.

The boss fights are where this game earns some of its charms back. Boss fights start with playing a classic Atari title that will suddenly turn to life in a cool AR-like experience. Now players must beat a special level of the game by defeating the evil Cyblin Lord at the end. This introduces new mechanics. Players must control Dot through the level while dealing with real-world obstacles. For example, on one level, players have to throw paper balls at the boss while controlling Dot. I appreciate the creativity of the boss fights, but I wish the rest of the game had this level of energy.

It’s hard to recommend because once the novelty of the experience wears off, the game falls flat. The graphics are great, the music is fantastic, and the game runs smoothly, but the gameplay isn’t there for me. As platformers go, unless you have nostalgia for the Atari era, it isn’t great. As a VR experience, it has its moments, but there are certainly better titles. It isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t something I would be rushing to.

You can pick up for the Meta Quest, Steam VR, and PlayStation VR on June 16.