We’ve all played games in different eras, be that 1-bit showdowns in Pong, 8-bit platforming adventures with Mario on the NES, or even 16-bit battles in Street Fighter II on the SNES. With each generation we’ve seen more ‘bits’ on consoles… I mean, we’re all measuring teraflops these days it seems, but it’s the same concept… right?
Well, Adventures of Pip embraces that idea within its adventure, with protagonist Pip altering between a 1-bit, 8-bit, and 16-bit variation on his journey to save the kingdom. After initially launching on PC and consoles five-years ago, he has now brought his grand escapade to the Nintendo Switch too.
Adventures of Pip takes place in a miniature kingdom made up of pixels, with different classes of folk represented by pixel fidelity… you know… 1-bit, 8-bit and 16-bit. The Princess of this kingdom ends up getting kidnapped by a vicious Skeleton Queen named DeRezzia who wants to absorb all of the pixels in the kingdom and make it her own, with only one adventurer able to save the day: the 1-bit Pip. However, with countless challenges in his way as well as the higher-bit folk looking down on him, it won’t be an easy journey – luckily, he’s granted the special ability to evolve and devolve between 1-bit, 8-bit and 16-bit variations of himself, in turn gaining the abilities required to defeat DeRezzia and save the day.
It’s a run-of-the-mill tale really, but with some quirky elements of classism introduced to the mix to add a clever twist to the story. It’s fun and there’s some neat interactions to share with NPCs that flesh out the tale, which isn’t something you’ll always come across in a 2D platformer like this.
Adventures of Pip’s basic gameplay loop feels like your typical platforming adventure, with the player tasked with pulling off well-timed jumps to work through the environment and avoid hazards, defeat any enemies in their path, and solve small puzzles as they work their way to the end of the level (and rescue any villagers they come across on the way). Of course, that may be a little bit tricky given that you begin the adventure as a small 1-bit square rendition of protagonist Pip, but rest easy: this is where Adventure of Pip’s form-switching comes into play, with Pip also able to switch between 8-bit and 16-bit variations during his journey to save the kingdom.
Each form brings with them different abilities – when 1-bit you’re able to jump high and glide across levels, when 8-bit you can jump between walls, whilst 16-bit Pip is able to smash up both enemies and objects in his path with a sword. Levels are designed to require a mixture of all of these different abilities in order to progress through them, whilst hidden secrets will require specific forms to access too. It’s a neat concept and it is pretty fun flicking between forms, with the evolution (and devolution) of Pip’s sprite remaining charming throughout.
It almost has a puzzle-like element to it, with the player not necessarily able to switch forms freely (unless you’re moving down to 8-bit or 1-bit). If you’re in your 1-bit form, you shouldn’t expect to just move up to 8-bit of 16-bit with a press of a button – you have to defeat a specific re-spawning glowing enemy in the area to do so. This removes some of the fun versatility that should come from the gameplay mechanic, with the player instead essentially restricted to only playing as the form that the area of each level requires you to be. It does have moments where there is a bit more flexibility offered, but with the level design often forcing players to utilise specific abilities in order to progress, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity to give the player the freedom to approach levels however they want.
At least the levels are well-designed and challenge the players to utilise all of their abilities in different ways though, with a good selection of set-pieces to face that’ll demand some quick thinking and solid platforming prowess. Whilst I wouldn’t consider Adventures of Pip a difficult game, it did have moments where I’d have to attempt some sections a good few times before I was able to succeed. It was always satisfying though, with the blend of abilities at your disposal through your different forms ensuring that progressing through the game remained fun.
The fact that there are hidden villagers to find throughout levels adds to the replayability too, whilst you’re also able to collect a currency in order to purchase new upgrades in the town hub. Whilst the upgrades are handy, they’re certainly not necessary to beat the game – as mentioned, Adventures of Pip isn’t tough, and your original repertoire of abilities are more than enough to clear the game without too much fuss.
I had a fair bit of fun playing through Adventures of Pip, but it was guilty of just feeling… well… unremarkable. Whilst its form-shifting mechanic is a neat one, it didn’t really excite me too much as I worked towards the end of the game… it just existed. I just wish it had a few neat tricks somewhere within its design that really blew me away or just made me think outside of the box a bit, but instead it just felt distinctly average throughout. Of course, that doesn’t make Adventures of Pip a bad game by any stretch of the imagination (and it has to be noted that it is five-years old now) but given the sheer volume of 2D indie platforming releases on the Nintendo Switch it’d be nice if the game had a really cool hook to make it stand out.
I had a good time playing through Adventures of Pip’s platforming escapade and it does have some really neat ideas, even if it doesn’t always utilise them to their full potential. Take the form-swapping for example: it’s a clever mechanic that could allow for a lot of versatility in the level-design, but it instead restricts you to having to utilise specific and often obvious abilities to progress.
It’s not a game-breaker by any means and it didn’t stop me from enjoying my time with the game, but it does show that it could have been a lot more. Still, those looking for a fun platforming fix on their Nintendo Switch will certainly have a good time with Adventures of Pip, even if it might not light up their lives as much as similar titles in the genre do.
Developer: TicToc Games
Publisher: TicToc Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC