The legendary gaming giant Atari is breaking into virtual reality. This summer, the company will publish Pixel Ripped 1978, the third entry in the outstanding VR Pixel Riped series. It will be released on PC and PlayStation 5 and will be compatible with PlayStation VR 2 and Meta Quest 2.
Pixel Ripped is a standout VR series that pays homage to classic gaming eras. They typically tell coming-of-age stories built around the changing technology of the time, tying pivotal moments in the games growth to their young lead characters. Previous installments have explored 1989 and 1995, but the new one goes back even further to explore 1978, and that’s fitting considering Atari will be publishing it.
Instead of following a boy who grows up with games, the story revolves around a woman named Bug, who works at Atari during the early days of the gaming industry. She is tasked with creating and testing some of the company’s most iconic games. While players can control classic games in virtual reality (in a game-within-a-game sort of way), Bug also has the power to jump into game worlds and debug them. It’s a meta-narrative that celebrates Atari’s history through its classic games.
“We’ve always paid homage to our favorite games of the past in this series, but now, in Pixel Ripped 1978Thanks to our partnership with Atari, we can reference the great games and consoles of that time,” Justus says in a press release. “I’m incredibly proud of what the team is creating and can’t wait for fans and newcomers to the series to get to play it.”
At GDC, the surprising story of how the collaboration came to be was revealed. Avore was already in full development before it partnered with Atari. At last year’s DICE summit, one of the Avore members accidentally bumped into the Atari team during the show and struck up a conversation about the project, asking if they could potentially license some IP for the game. Instead, Atari said it wanted to publish the project directly. According to the developers, the studio was only weeks away from revealing the game at the time and scrapped the announcement to devote an additional year of development time to deepening the collaboration with Atari.
That decision seems to have paid off based on what I’ve played so far. There are plenty of little easter eggs for game history buffs to pore over, and I’ve already caught tons of references to games like frogger. With the game jumping back in time to delve into Atari’s history, it looks like it’s going to be a complete celebration of the 1970s gaming scene recreated in VR.
Pixel Ripped 1978 launches this summer and will be compatible with Meta Quest 2 and PSVR2.