I love the WipEout series. I have done since this first game came out on the original PlayStation and was basically what convinced me to even consider owning a home console, as I had been a home computer user until that point.
This original WipEout game, from the well known Amiga software house, Psygnosis was a kind of mixture of Powerdrome and Road Blasters with a smigen of Mario Kart and a sprinkling of Matrix Marauders. It was also a launch title for the original Sony PlayStation in 1995 here in the UK.
This was the game that sold the PlayStation at launch. It was demoed everywhere on the biggest screen in each shop, and even in clubs. It wowed people. It looked glorious. People loved the look of it and fought to control their craft when they played it. It, however, perhaps due to it’s own success, has not aged well.
As you load the game the retro flashback of the Psygnosis owl greats you like a warm fuzzy blanket enveloping you (or maybe giant owl wings). WipEout is set in 2052, in the early(ish) days of the F3600 Anti-gravity racing league. You fly/pilot/drive the anti-gravity racing sled of your team of choice (you even get to choose one pilot from each team roster of two) around various tracks, with each race literally being just that (normal WipEout first to the line type racing is all there is in this first game.) There are accelerator speed pads dotted around each track along with colour changing weapon/upgrade pads where you pick up something to help you along the way , or hinder the other racers.
In single player mode the weapons/equipment available form the pads are a shield, a turbo boost, a missile (locks on to the heat signature craft ahead of you), rocket (straight line fire), and disruptive shockwave. None of these weapons cause actual damage to the opposing craft but simply stall them (and in some cases flip them over a full 360!)
For those with two original PlayStations, and a serial link cable it may be of note that in two player mode there are two further weapons that reverse your opponents controls and a secret weapon that turned out to be an ECM pod that blocked the opponents weapon pick up and use ability – the serial link option unfortunately doesn’t translate to an ad-hoc wireless option on the Vita.
The comparisons with WipEout 2048 , however, are not kind to it’s great, great grandfather. Once the intro starts you realise quite how far things have come. Both graphically, and game play wise the series has moved on in huge way – see the review of WipEout 2048, with perhaps only the music from the early titles seeming a bit more in-keeping with the game play. Absolutely key to Sony Computer Entertainment’s strategy to make video gaming mainstream, using licensed music, ironically from non-mainstream artists (this would be capitalised on further by 2097) and this has developed over the years, but it’s the early titles that have the more appropriate music.
The game is reasonably playable on the PS Vita, but like so many PSOne classics it feels somewhat archaeic when you are playing it. With the PlayStation (1) only having digital controls, and this being exactly the same game it feels rather clunky to be controlling it with the d-pad to say the least, and you do find yourself trying to use the analogue sticks for a sec until you crash into a wall. As a result you will be remapping! Even with the brilliant screen on the handheld, on some sections the game can look like a mess of pixels in places.
Fortunately here are a number of controller set ups for you to try out (presets A-H), but they are all, as you would expect, designed very much for the original digital PlayStation pad, and due to the nature of the PS Vita, you will be making use of the PSOne settings to remap your buttons in conjunction with selecting an appropriate preset – but it very much will be trial and error for most people seeing what mix of configurations works for them.
WipEout was ground breaking in 1995, and earned very high review scores then at an RRP of £49.99. It is a piece of history – unfortunately it really needs to stay as one as it simply cannot hold a candle to WipeOut 2048 (and Wipeout HD on the PS3). It may only be £3.99 on the PlayStation Store, but that’s four quid that could go towards WipEout 2048 (£11.99).
The original PSOne WipEout can be thanked, for without it we would not have the WipEout games that followed, but with all the development in the game series I’m afraid this is for download as a historical curiosity only, and let’s face it, collectors will have the original physical version.
In 1995 with PlayStation the best console in the world at the time, this would have scored a 9/10, maybe even a 10, but today, on Vita it does seem somewhat behind the times.
At A Glance
- Title: WipEout
- Publisher: Psygnosis
- System: PSOne Classics
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No*
- Memory Card Space Needed: 92Mb
4/10 applies to the download being used on a PS Vita in comparison with it’s peers, rather than as a PSOne game being played on PSOne, PS2, or PSP.
* – The original physical game could serial link across two original PlayStation consoles for two player games – needing two copies of the game, two consoles, two televisions, etc.