The day game developers discovered acid is probably the day Wipeout was born. A flashing, explosive, quasi-controllable world of destructive 3D hover ships immersed every user in 2052, while encasing them in a mind-melting electronica soundtrack. As the extreme sports name suggested, this game was a serious trip. Dude.
Before the F3600 anti-gravity racing league of Wipeout came to PlayStation and MS-DOS PCs, the best hope you had of space racing was the 2D F-Zero on NES, or watching Tron, again. Thankfully the 90s dance scene bore the likes of CoLD SToRAGE, Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers and Orbital who produced tracks to create a truly off-world experience. And that was before power-ups were even discovered.
From the more standard turbo-boost to mischievous mines, missiles, shock waves and shields – the game gave you so much to focus on it really felt like you had to upgrade your brain to compete. As you progressed from Vector, Venom and Rapier classes up towards Phantom, every power-up pad missed became physically painful. It was like warping back through gaming time where a single mistake would mean starting all over again. Brilliantly addictive, in a life-consuming way. But all worth it once you unlocked the seventh track, a hidden Mars level that made Total Recall look dated.
The game series has continued to remain popular even as electronica bleeps into the abyss. Since the original we’ve seen Wipeout 2, 3, Pure, Fusion, and HD. All pretty much the same with the usual AG Systems, Feisar and Piranha teams, but with steadily improving graphics and never-quite-as-good-as-the-original soundtracks.
Wipeout HD is only available as a download on PS3 and features full 1080p graphics at 60fps – pretty futuristic, but still not enough to satisfy the future dangled in front of us by Wipeout back in 1995. Not until we can avoid traffic on our way to work by using missiles and shock waves will we be truly happy.