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Pixel Ripped 1989 Kickstarter – a virtual reality meta-gaming experience

Pixel Ripped 1989 is an extremely immersive VR game with two layers of interlocking gameplay and a special focus on the relationship between 'player' and 'video game character'.
This article is over 8 years old and may contain outdated information

Pixel Ripped 1989, while still in development, is intended to be released for the Gear VR and Oculus Rift.  Ana Ribeiro (lead designer and programmer) and Stef Keegan (producer and CG artist) have opened their project up to crowdfunding through Kickstarter.  

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The contents of the game are truly a meta-imaginative virtual game experience that can only be made possible on VR.  Much like Greenwood Games‘ innovative VR survival horror game AlonePixel Ripped 1989 features a game within a game in a way that truly succeeds in aligning the player with the virtual reality.  However, Pixel Ripped 1989 hits closer to the heart as it is a kind of celebration of the gamer and video games as a whole.

The Kickstarter page describes it as:

A mad, nostalgic Virtual Reality game that takes you on a retro trip to the 80’s. A VR homage to gaming history.

In the year 1989, the player joins the gamer girl “Nicola”, sitting in her elementary school classroom where her teacher is rampaging about, flipping out sporadically.  

Nicola has her own her portable game console, the “Gear Girl” (in a past demo version known as “Game Girl”) hidden in her desk.  If the player so chooses, they can play on the Gear Girl through Nicola, as long as they can do it without getting caught by the teacher!

The player has to keep an eye on the blackboard and be watchful of the teacher’s movements, then quickly drop their gaze to stealthily play the game in their hands. If you become too absorbed in the game (the “Gear Girl” one) it leaves you/Nicola exposed to the teacher, but if you’re constantly wary of the teacher you never get to play the game-within-the-game…

Nicola’s favorite game for the Gear Girl is a 2D sidescrolling platformer called Pixel Ripped.  The game’s storyline is: ‘The Pixel Stone’, a magical gem container for ‘the pixel power of gaming’ was under the guard of ‘Dot’ (the game’s protagonist) and her family, but they failed.  Now The Pixel Stone is in the hands of the ‘evil Cyblin Master’ and he is using its powers to ‘rip portals between gaming generations’.  Dot sets off on a mission to take The Pixel Stone back and save the world.

However, it isn’t that simple.  As you/Nicola play through Pixel Ripped as Dot, strange ‘pixel magic’ effects begin to influence Nicola’s world.  Elements from the Pixel Ripped Girl Gear game seem to jump out into the world around Nicola.  

This goes beyond simply a product of Nicola’s overactive imagination and you have to start to wonder if the Pixel Ripped game cartridge might actually have magical properties.

As explained on the Pixel Ripped 1989 Kickstarter page:

The overall aim of the game is simple- play as Nicola, who is playing as Dot to complete Pixel Ripped.

It is up to you to manage both Nicola’s reality and complete Dot’s quest. You will feel fully immersed since all interactions within the “real” world are done with line of sight, timing and head movements, and you will control Dot with your own controller making the experience super immersive.

In the event that the project goes well, the development team has also made plans to extend the game into a series.  They have already started work on a prequel game, Pixel Ripped 1979, about a younger Nicola.

The Pixel Ripped 1989 Kickstarter has less than $15,000 of its $61,957 goal, with 19 days left on the clock.  If you’re interested/supportive of the project, please consider contributing.  Backers will also get access to an exlusive non-VR version of the game, designed especially for the supporters that do not have access to a headset.  

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Sam Yoo
I'm here, I'm queer, and I'm very tired.