One of the biggest crimes a game can commit is being perfectly average. While, for the most part, there is nothing technically wrong with some games, there is nothing that makes them stand out from the crowd. This is the unfortunate middle ground where Adventures of Pip lies. While the game is a perfectly average 2D platformer, it is a completely unmemorable adventure that does little to make an impact on the player.
Originally releasing on the Wii U in 2013, Adventures of Pip tells the story of an average single pixel who gets caught up in a journey to save the princess of the kingdom, Princess Adeline. The princess is kidnapped by the evil queen, aptly named Queen DeRezzia, who aims to turn the entire world into a single bit, giving her the ability to take control of the world.
What sets the plot apart, however, is the not-so-subtle hints of a class structure within the land. Those with a higher bit count have an elevated place in society and constantly talk down to those who are made of 8 or 1-bit. Throughout the game, Pip is constantly patronized by the rest of the cast for being made of only one bit, even though he is the hero of the story. At one point, a group of knights even drop Pip down into the sewers just because of his bit count.
While there is certainly an underlying political message about class issues, it is rarely developed into anything more than an excuse for a joke. It would have been great to have more development of the plot, but unfortunately, it sticks too close to its classic platformer roots of putting the story on the backseat to focus on the gameplay.
As previously mentioned, Adventures of Pip is a standard 2D platformer with a focus on changing between bit counts. Along Pip’s journey, he encounters fallen soldiers who grant Pip the power to use the bit stream, the world’s pixel energy, to change between 1, 8, and 16-bit forms. Each form has different strengths and weaknesses, allowing one form to not overpower another.
For example, the 1-bit form has a higher jump and can glide, the 8-bit form can wall jump, and the 16-bit form can use a sword. The issue, however, lies in how changing between forms is handled. While Pip can devolve at any time to a lower bit count, he cannot evolve to a higher bit count without killing a certain glowing enemy. This means that instead of getting to utilize the form that the player likes the best, they are mostly stuck using the form the game wants them to use. Having the ability to seamlessly change between forms would have gone a long way to better the player’s experience, giving them the freedom to use a sword or a glide whenever they wished.
Another issue lies in the level design itself. For the most part, especially in the early game, there is little that makes each level stand out from one another. There are eight levels per world, with each world being centered around a theme. However, unlike a Mario or Donkey Kong level, the levels rarely contain any unique mechanics, causing every grassland level to feel the same as one another.
For example, in the first world, the only distinguishing set piece across eight levels was a single level that forced Pip to maneuver around a giant tree. After a few levels in a similar theme, the game began to feel very repetitive as all the levels meshed together. However, one thing that did stand out was the soundtrack. Orchestrated by Jake Kaufman, each track made for a great listen, giving some life to an otherwise boring world.
When it comes to extras, Adventures of Pip doesn’t fare much better. Throughout the levels, there are two primary collectibles: villagers and bits. There are three villagers hidden in each level, some very well hidden, but outside of a crown on a level for collecting them all, there was little incentive to go out of the way to find them. As for the bits, these serve as currency for shops in the hub that can be used to upgrade some of Pip's abilities, such as extra health or bit multiplier. However, since the game is incredibly easy and there are no lives, these felt more like added bonuses than something to go out of the way for. Even the bosses felt more like a chore than a true challenge.
Overall, Adventures of Pip makes the biggest mistake a game can make: being boring. While the game had a lot of potential, it is brought down by being unmemorable. A great soundtrack cannot justify bland level design, a restrictive bit-switching gimmick, and a lacklustre story. There are far more imaginative and innovative platformers on Switch that deserve a look over this.