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Adventures of Pip Review: Life of Pi-xel

/ Jul 1st, 2015 No Comments

Adventures of Pip

Sorry, the princess is just not that into you. What would you do if everyone you were trying to help treated you like garbage? Could you justify risking your pixels to save such ungrateful people? Is forgiving these personality defects the true hallmark of a hero?

Adventures of Pip is a clever platformer. It not only uses innovative, novel gameplay mechanics to put a refreshing spin on the genre, but its story uses subtext to create a clever take on well-worn platformer narrative tropes.

I’m Not in Love with You…

After evil Queen Derezza kidnapped Princess Adeline, she caused massive havoc in Pixel Kingdom, turning the king and queen into single pixels and scattering the citizens to the four winds. Queen Derezza plans to tap into Princess Adeline’s affinity to harness the bitstream to make all people equal regardless of pixel count, only at the expense of Adeline’s well-being. If only there was someone heroic enough to foil her plans.
 

Adventures of Pip

Pip gains the ability to tap into the Bitstream giving him extradordinary pixel powers.

Luckily for Adeline, there is someone willing to risk his pixels to stop Queen Derezza. Pip is extraordinary, just in an ordinary body. This brave, nice and kind-of-handsome hero has the unfortunate complication of being a single pixel. In spite of his limitations, Pip decides to embark on a marvelous journey with the fate of Pixel Kingdom at stake.

One of the most striking things about Adventures of Pip’s story is how it turns the atypical platformer hero’s journey on its head. In terms of plot, Pip is still a selfless, pure-hearted soul bent on saving the princess (and the world) from a great evil. However, all the characters in the game make you wonder why Pip bothers to risk his lack of neck for them.
 

Adventures of Pip

A fully evolved Pip is slower, but can attack troublesome enemies.

The Pixel Kingdom is broken down into a caste system where high-res citizens enjoying privilege and everyone else is second class. Single pixels like Pip are treated like dirt. Not only do other citizens give Pip the stink eye, but the king, queen and Princess Adeline herself regard Pip as garbage. Queen Derezza is the only one that gives Pip some amount of dignity, even if it is begrudgingly. It makes you wonder if her evil plan is all that bad.

The game highlights Pip’s virtuousness through his selfless actions. He fights an increasingly tough horde of monsters, faces rapidly more dangerous perils and completes feats of unimaginably difficulty all in order to save a princess and kingdom that treat him poorly. The redemption comes in Pip’s decision at the end of the game; it’ll warm your heart.

In an Occasionally 1×1 Way

While Pip’s indomitable spirit is his greatest asset, it is not the only leverage he has against the myriad of monsters and dangers between him and Queen Derezza’s castle. Pip gains the unusual ability to tap into the bitstream, which bestows him with the power to evolve (and devolve). By destroying specific enemies imbued with a portion of the bitstream, Pip can go from a solitary pixel to an 8-bit version of himself or a fully pixelated version. Each form grants him new abilities suited for specific tasks.

Pip’s different forms confer their own advantages and disadvantages. Learning how these forms operate is paramount to overcome challenges. As a single pixel, Pip is able to float across large gaps and take advantage of things suited to his lithe form, like gusts of air or buoyancy. His 8-bit form allows him to move much faster than either form. It also gives him the ability to wall jump, but he lacks the ability to float over long gaps.
 

Adventures of Pip

Pixel Pip can get through those tight spots.

In his fully formed pixel version, Pip moves ponderously, but the loss of speed comes with the ability to attack monsters and specific obstacles. His brawn has the added benefit of being able to move heavy blocks. While each form has its benefits, Pip’s most advantageous skill is the ability to devolve at will.

At any given time, Pip can devolve down to a single pixel form. This is an important skill to master. Not only will you need to devolve to utilize these skills, but there are obstacles that can only be overcome by using the blast that results from Pip devolving. The blast can also damage enemies with a concentrated attack of bitstream energy.

Adventures of Pip lures you into its specific platforming rhythms by making things challenging, but not insurmountable. It makes you feel like you can take whatever it throws at you. Eventually, it slips in additional elements not typical in a platformer. Slowly integrating more difficult obstacles, the worlds and levels build to truly test your platforming acuity.
 

Adventures of Pip

Those boss fights are tightly orchestrated exercises.

Challenges force you to rethink your assumptions about Pip’s forms, but sometimes it is a simple issue of being able to execute or die. Either you can switch forms in order to wall jump, utilize gusts of wind and destroy road blocks or you can’t. But keeping at it will eventually yield success. By the end of the game, you will have a good handle on all of this stuff.

Boss fights are excellent skill checks in Adventures of Pip. At the end of each of the game’s five worlds, you encounter a giant boss that will require you to use the abilities you learn throughout the game. Bosses change up patterns after receiving damage, so each attack phase requires you to re-think your strategy. It becomes a hard fight as you need to balance the end goal with your very finite health. Later boss fights are very involved and require good health management. They can become a true test of your sanity.

Overall

Adventures of Pip stacks some novel concepts on top of classic platforming to great effect. The most obvious of these concepts is the innovative evolution gameplay mechanic that allows Pip to turn from a single pixel into a fully realized 32-bit warrior. This mechanic allows some clever level design and satisfying platforming gameplay. The other concept, which is a bit more subtle, is the smart take on the traditional platformer narrative with the hero’s motives for saving the princess and the world not being in his best interest.

Adventures of Pip was reviewed on Wii U using a code for the game provided by the developer.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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ADVENTURES OF PIP REVIEW: LIFE OF PI-XEL

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall88%

GAMEPLAY9.5

The evolution mechanic allows from some clever level design and satisfying platforming gameplay.

GRAPHICS8.5

The various pixel character models have spirit, with the more evolved obviously being incredibly distinct. Pip evolves between his various form seamlessly with good animations. The various worlds and levels Pip traverses are awesome with some excellent end world bosses.

SOUND8.5

The charming score creates some good vibes while you're saving an ungrateful populace.

STORY9

The story is a subtle, smart take on the traditional platformer narrative with the hero's motives for saving the princess and the world not being in his best interest.

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