WipEout is one of the most iconic racing games ever made. One of the few titles released on the original PlayStation, Studio Liverpool’s tough-as-nails rave racer was clearly a product of the time and place in which it was developed. Each game borrows from the developers’ lives and experiences to some degree, but WipEout was forged at raves at Liverpool’s infamous Cream nightclub and some of its best ideas came to life over a pint in a pub across the water. .
People argue that this is precisely why the WipEout series did not survive and developer Studio Liverpool (formerly Psygnosis) was shut down. Even some of the game developers themselves think this. Neil Thompson, lead artist for the studio, told Eurogamer the same thing in his exhaustive investigation into the studio’s closure.
“What I would have liked to see, and I don’t know if the company would have supported it, was for WipEout to evolve in its looks, its music and its fashion, because it still went back to [iconic ‘90s counterculture design label] The Designers Republic thing,” he says. That is the past. That was my youth, not the youth of today. What are they up to? You want to write that game with the 20-somethings who are writing games now, and say, ‘Okay, take it.’ Call it WipEout. That’s the dynamic. But what is the aesthetic? What is the soundtrack? What is the aspect? What is the design ethic?
It’s good reasoning. After the original game in 1995 and WipEout 2097 the following year, future installments failed to capture the same ’90s club culture vibe. They still had the same fast-paced, cutthroat gameplay, but the tone felt off. WipEout’s excitement had stalled. It had been done before.
So why is now the right time to reboot the iconic series? And why should it, in my opinion, try to bring back that 90’s counterculture instead of appealing to today’s kids?
For starters, the 90s are back in fashion. WipEout was more than an aesthetic, it encapsulated a lifestyle, but this millennial writer who had a good time out of his club days thinks today’s youth would fit in with a revival of WipEout in all its now-retro glory. From what I can tell, zoomer fashion is all about wide-legged jeans and tiny sunglasses, look at Billie Eilish and Post Malone.
While a soundtrack and aesthetic that directly introduces these modern artists could also work, going back to the fashion and musical roots of ’90s culture would offer something different for a modern audience that wasn’t around to experience it.
Furthermore, Volition only tried to bring Saints Row up to date with modern youth culture and failed spectacularly. Older developers don’t get it. As Thompson told Eurogamer seven years ago, it takes “twenty-something years that are writing games now” to successfully appeal to its own demographic. But on some level, I think the youngsters who are sweating their Cream equivalents these days (I’m guessing the gentrified warehouses of the Baltic Triangle house this sort of thing now) would love an authentic runner that embodies the aesthetic they’re recycling. , by the people who were there the first time.
Some people also believe that WipEout was too difficult to be successful, but that doesn’t make sense anymore. It leaned into the intense difficulty in part as a way to differentiate itself from F-Zero, but some people believe that this hard approach turned players off and contributed to the series’ death. However, we are now in the era of Soulsbornes; Elden Ring pretty much wrapped up Game of the Year in February. A racing game with cool aesthetics, a punchy soundtrack, and intense difficulty would fit into an empty niche in the modern gaming landscape. WipEout HD ran wonderfully at 60fps, so imagine what it would feel like at 120 on the PS5.
It pains me to call the 90’s retro, that’s the decade I was born in, for God’s sake, but it’s time to face the music and race to the death as those retro beats pump in our ears and futuristic races fill our bloodstream with adrenaline. one more time.
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