Developer(s) – Psygnosis
Publisher(s) – Psygnosis
Director – John White
Producer – Dominic Mallinson
Released early on in the shelf life of the original PlayStation and developed with the likes of both Super Mario Kart and F-Zero in mind, the original Wipeout was worlds apart from most games that Psygnosis had developed prior such as Barbarian and Bloodwych, and offered exactly the kind of gaming experience that Sony needed at the time.
Aside from 3D platformers and RPGs, which were gaining mainstream popularity at the time, racing games remained fairly popular although the genre would be saturated with a number of licensed games (some of which developed by Psygnosis themselves), but Wipeout took elements from both the kart racing genre and the anti-gravity racing genre and combined them to make something very different and fascinating indeed.
Wipeout takes place in a futuristic imagining of our own world, with the game set in places like Canada, Germany and Japan and includes a lot of varied and wonderfully designed courses with intricate track designs. Not only did this game do an exceptional job of showing off what the original PlayStation was capable of in it’s early years, but I think the graphics also still hold up to this day, despite one or two glitches that can found in most of the tracks namely Canada. Ship designs would go on to become more diverse in future games, but I think they made a decent impression with even the few ships players have at their disposal to start the game off with.
As the perfect marriage between two Nintendo classics, Mario Kart and F-Zero, Wipeout is as enjoyable as it is both challenging and exhilarating. I think one reason why it can be viewed as more of a challenge than Mario Kart games is because the player always has to climb from last place to first to win each race, unlike Mario Kart whereby if the player starts from whichever position they finished in. It’s also a lot more of a challenge to hit opponents with certain projectiles I find, since Mario Kart 64 was very forgiving of how much time players had to hit someone even with a green shell at close range.
Since this was the first game in the series, it was always going to be a question of trial and error in terms of controls, especially with the PlayStation controller, since it lacked the analogue stick at this point. It’s initial absence didn’t cause as much of a problem in this game as it did in many early 3D platformers available early on in the PlayStation’s shelf life, such as Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and Bubsy 3D, but making certain turns can be seen as an unnecessary hassle at times, and it would take a few instalments for the developers eventually got it fully perfected.
Although this game took influence from not only numerous Nintendo games, but from many other different things, such as the culture and music which was most popular during the mid 90s, the game also went to boost the popularity of its respective influences, such as underground techno music, and as I said before, offered an experience unique to the PlayStation console that may not have been conceived other wise. Crash Team Racing did eventually come along as a challenger to the popularity of Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing, but Wipeout would go on to evolve in different ways to the aforementioned examples, even across the lifespan of the original PlayStation alone.
To summarize, Wipeout is a must-have for anyone with either a PlayStation or PlayStation 3, and is a classic experience that still holds up to this day. Players may encounter issues with the game’s physics and control scheme, but by no mans do these factor make the game unplayable.