Pixel Ripped 1978 is a VR game full of retro charm

The latest chapter in the Pixel Ripped saga takes players back to the birth of Atari and brings a few familiar faces along for the ride.


Over the years the Pixel Ripped series of VR games has paid tribute to some of the best eras in video game history. The first two titles revolved around what it was like being a gamer in the late 80s and mid-90s. Now, the team at Arvore is teaming up with Atari to take players back to the early days of console gaming with the upcoming Pixel Ripped 1978. I was able to try out a quick demo of the game on the PSVR 2 during GDC 2023 and get a taste of nostalgia for myself.

The player sitting at their desk in Pixel Ripped 1978.

Source: Atari

As in the first two titles, Pixel Ripped 1978 has players take on the role of a person living in what I’ll call a real world. This time, you take on the role of someone working at the actual Atari offices during the company’s early days. In between interruptions from coworkers like someone tossing a football at your cubicle or someone coming by to update the layout of your joystick, you’ll play a game within a game, so to speak. When folks aren’t pestering you, players will be able to grab an in-game controller and play a game within a game.

The demo I tried out had me playing a vintage side-scrolling Atari-style game where I ran into a familiar face. Turns out Bentley Bear from the classic Crystal Castles arcade game was hanging out and needed my help getting his magic pouch back. However, helping out Bentley would require that I actually step into the game in a game for yet another level of immersion. I was able to step into the pixelated world of the Atari game for a more FPS experience. From this new perspective I blasted my way past flying enemies and shot targets to unlock gates to finally help Bentley Bear get his pouch back.

Though my time with Pixel Ripped 1978 wasn’t all that long, I’m pretty familiar with the first two games and I can say that this seems like the most ambitious outing for the series so far. These games always have a lot of layers to them and find clever ways to implement challenges that have you jumping between the “real” world and the game world. The addition of the first-person aspects is a new and clever twist. Especially when you consider that this is essentially taking the early days of home gaming and mixing it with the more cutting-edge VR experience. Folks won’t have too much longer to wait to try the game for themselves though, as Pixel Ripped is set for a Summer 2023 launch.

This preview is based on hands-on time with a demo build of Pixel Ripped 1978 at GDC 2023. The game is set to release Summer 2023 for PSVR 2, Meta Quest 2, and Steam.

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Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, www.cartoonviolencemusic.com. If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

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