Wipeout (video game)

This article is about the first game in the Wipeout series of video games. For the article about the series as a whole, see Wipeout (series).


European PlayStation cover art
Developer(s) Psygnosis
Publisher(s) Psygnosis
Director(s) John White[1]
Producer(s) Dominic Mallinson[2]
Designer(s) The Designers Republic
Programmer(s) Dave Rose, Rob Smith, Jason Denton, Stuart Sockett[2]
Artist(s) Keith Hopwood, The Designers Republic, Jim Bowers, Nicky Carus Westcott, Laura Grieve, Louise Smith, Darren Douglas, Pol Sigerson[1]
Writer(s) Nick Burcome, Damon Fairclough (manual)[1]
Composer(s) CoLD SToRAGE
Series Wipeout
Platform(s) PlayStation, MS-DOS, Windows, Sega Saturn, PlayStation Network
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player
Sound Tim Wright[1]

Wipeout (stylised as wipE'out") is a 1995 futuristic racing game developed and published by Psygnosis. It is the first game in the Wipeout series and is set in the year 2052. It was originally released in 1995 for PlayStation and PCs running MS-DOS, and in 1996 for Sega Saturn, being a launch title for the PlayStation in Europe and North America. It has since been re-released as a downloadable game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable via the PlayStation Network in 2007.

Set in the year 2052, players compete in the F3600 anti-gravity racing league, piloting one of a selection of craft in races on several different tracks around the world. Unique at the time, Wipeout was noted for its futuristic setting, weapons designed to both stall and destroy enemy opponents and its marketing campaign which was designed by Keith Hopwood and The Designers Republic. The game featured music from CoLD SToRAGE, Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers and Orbital. The game was critically acclaimed upon release; critics praised the game for its originality and its vast "unique techno soundtrack". However, it was criticised for its in-game physics. Wipeout managed to spawn several sequels to critical acclaim.


Gameplay from the PlayStation version of Wipeout, showing the first course in Canada

Wipeout is a racing game that is set in the year 2052, where players compete in the F3600 anti-gravity racing league. The game allows the player to pilot one of a selection of craft in races on several different tracks. There are four different racing teams to choose from, and two ships for each team. Each ship with its own distinct characteristics of acceleration, top speed, mass, and turning radius. By piloting their craft over power-up pads found on the tracks, the player can pick up various weapons and power-ups such as shields, turbo boosts, mines, shock waves, rockets, or missiles.[6] The power-ups allow the player to either protect their own craft or disrupt the competitors' craft.[7]

There are seven race tracks in the game total, six of them located in futuristic versions of countries including Canada, Germany, Greenland, United States, China and Japan.[8] After all tracks have been completed on the highest difficulty, a hidden track set on Mars is unlocked.[9] Multiplayer mode is only available in the PlayStation version of the game,[3] and features the option of having a competitive two player mode throughout the seven tracks, with the usual six remaining AI competitors.[4]

Development and release

The controversial WipEout poster featuring Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox

Wipeout was developed and published by Liverpudlian developer Psygnosis (later known as SCE Studio Liverpool), with production starting in the second half of 1994.[2][10] The marketing and artwork of the game was designed by Keith Hopwood and The Designers Republic in Sheffield.[10] Aimed at a fashionable, club-going, music-buying audience, Keith Hopwood and The Designers Republic created art for the game's packaging, in-game branding, and other promotional materials.[10] An early beta version of Wipeout appeared in the teen cult film Hackers (1995), in which both protagonists were playing the game in a nightclub.[11] Shortly after the film's release, Sony expressed some interest Psygnosis on the basis of their "impressive work it had done with 3D graphics".[11] In September 1995 Sony Computer Entertainment purchased Psygnosis and later renamed SCE Studio Liverpool in 2000.[12]

The game's vehicle designs were based on Matrix Marauders, a 3D grid-based strategy game whose concept was developed by Psygnosis employee Jim Bowers and released for the Amiga in 1994.[12][13] Nick Burcombe, the game's future designer, was inspired to create a racing game using the same types of 'anti-gravity' vehicles from his experience with Powerdrome and F-Zero. The name "Wipeout" was given to the game during a pub conversation, and was inspired by the instrumental song Wipe Out by The Surfaris. Designing the game's tracks proved to be difficult due to the lack of draw distance possible on the system. Players received completely random weapons, resembling Super Mario Kart in their capability to stall rather than destroy opponents.[14]

Wipeout gained a significant amount of controversy upon its initial release.[15] A marketing campaign created and launched by Keith Hopwood and The Designers Republic included an infamous promotional poster, featuring a bloodstained Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox, which was accused by some of depicting a drug-overdose.[11] The poster branded Wipeout "a dangerous game", with Wipeout's designer Nick Burcome suggesting that the "E" in Wipeout stood for ecstasy.[11]

Wipeout was first released alongside the PlayStation in Europe in September 1995.[16] It was the PlayStation's best-selling launch title in Europe.[17] Two months later in November 1995, it was released in the United States.[16] The game went to number one in the all format charts, with over 1.5 million units of the franchise having been sold to date throughout Europe and North America.[18] Wipeout was ported to the Sega Saturn in 1996, however because the company behind the PlayStation, Sony, owned the applicable rights to most of the PlayStation version's soundtrack, new music was recorded for the Saturn version by Psygnosis's in-house music team, CoLD SToRAGE.[17][19][20]


See also: Wipeout (album)

The game's electronica soundtrack was mostly composed by Welsh video game music composer Tim Wright under the alias CoLD SToRAGE. Music tracks were licensed from non-mainstream electronica acts to create an original soundtrack album[7][14] titled Wipeout that was released to promote the game in 1996. This music album featured a selection which contrasted against the music included within the game, with CoLD SToRAGE being the most notable omission given his prevalence within both Wipeout and numerous successors.[21][22] Additional songs featured in Wipeout are from Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers, and Orbital and were included in the PAL version of the PlayStation game, while the Saturn version included three songs by Rob Lord and Mark Bandola.[16]


Review scores
Edge (PS1)[23]
EGM7.125/10 (SAT)[24]
IGN8/10 (PS1)[25]
Maximum (PS1)[26]
Next Generation (PS1)[28]

Upon release, the game was critically acclaimed. IGN staff praised the game for its originality and unique techno soundtrack, but criticised the difficulty with manoeuvring the vehicles and also the difficulty of the game itself, stating that "there aren't nearly enough competitors" and that the player would have "[pulled] ahead of the other racers with no problem".[25] Edge cited that it was hard to criticise "such a beautifully realised and well-produced game which [exploited] the PlayStation’s power so well", but did show similar concerns over the game's longevity regarding its "reliance on track-based power-ups" that would "limit Wipeout’s lifespan" in comparison to Super Mario Kart.[23] GamePro gave the PlayStation version a rave review, predicting that "Wipeout's taut action and grueling courses will lure many diehard racing fans to this new system." They particularly praised the challenging gameplay and precision controls. They said the fact that multiplayer is only through the PlayStation Link Cable is the game's one major flaw, since the PlayStation still had a low installed base at this point and thus this would not be an option for most players.[29] A reviewer for Next Generation applauded the stylish and detailed visuals, the "heart-pounding soundtrack", and particularly the exhilarating feel of the racing. He commented that the controls have a potentially frustrating learning curve but are worth mastering, and deemed the game "A new high-water mark".[28] Maximum opined that of all the games in the PlayStation's European launch lineup, "not one title can match up to the awesome nature of Psygnosis' WipeOut. It's an amazing spectacle to behold, it sounds absolutely fantastic and it's the best playing racing game yet beheld on a next generation super console." Making particular note of the lack of pop-up, the coherent style and concept, the soundtrack, the unlockable Rapier mode, and the PAL optimization,[26] they gave it their "Maximum Game of the Month" award.[30]

The later Saturn version also received generally positive reviews, though most critics agreed that it was not as good as the PlayStation version. In Sega Saturn Magazine, Rad Automatic praised the large number of tracks and the distinctive flavour of each one, and remarked that the gameplay is very easy to get into but provides more than enough challenge. He criticised it as not being as good as the PlayStation version, though he noted that none of the shortcomings impact the gameplay.[31] The four reviewers from Electronic Gaming Monthly similarly praised the number and variety of tracks along with the strong challenge the game presented, and were much more approving of the graphics than Sega Saturn Magazine, describing them as "vibrant" and "gorgeous".[24] Both Air Hendrix of GamePro and a reviewer for Maximum argued that the Saturn version is noticeably not as polished as the PlayStation version but still excellent in absolute terms, making it a pointless purchase for PlayStation owners but recommended for Saturn-only players.[32][27]


The game's initial success led to Psygnosis developing several sequels which would later become part of the Wipeout franchise. A direct sequel, Wipeout 2097, was released for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in 1996, which was met with positive reviews, especially aimed towards the vastly improved game engine and new physics the game offered.[14] A Nintendo 64 spin-off, Wipeout 64, was released in 1998 and was met with considerable praise from critics, but was noted to be too similar to the original Wipeout.[33] After the release of Wipeout in 1995, the awareness of the underground techno community in England was significantly boosted, with critics praising the vast "unique techno soundtrack" the game offered.[11]

Wipeout has been described as being synonymous with Sony's debut gaming hardware and as an early showcase for 3D graphics in console gaming.[2] It has since been re-released as a downloadable game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable via the PlayStation Network in 2007.[34][35]


  1. 1 2 3 4 wipEout Manual. Psgynosis. 1995. p. 14.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Leadbetter, Richard (4 December 2014). "20 years of PlayStation: the making of WipEout". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Back cover of American PlayStation version". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  4. 1 2 "Back cover of American PC version". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  5. Turunen, J. "Ruikkuralli". Pelit (in Finnish). Sanoma (1/1996): 30.
  6. "WipEout for PlayStation (1995) overview". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  7. 1 2 "Why a 1995 PlayStation Game Still Looks Like It Came From The Future". Kotaku. Kotaku. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  8. "Wipeout overview". IGN. IGN UK. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  9. "Retro Corner: 'WipEout'". Digital Spy. Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  10. 1 2 3 "The Designers Republic (Company)". Giant Bomb. Giant Bomb. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 Yin-Pool, Wesley (2013). "WipEout: The rise and fall of Sony Studio Liverpool". Eurogamer. Eurogamer. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  12. 1 2 "A History Of Psygnosis in 12 Games". IGN. IGN UK. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  13. Langshaw, Mark. "Retro Corner: 'WipEout'". Digital Spy. Digital Spy. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  14. 1 2 3 Edge staff writers (24 February 2013). "The Making Of: Wipeout". Edge. Future plc. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  15. Clifford-Marsh, Elizabeth. "Sony pulls controversial in-game ads after player protests". marketingmagazine. Band Republic Group. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  16. 1 2 3 "The WipEout Legacy (Part I)". Tay.Kotaku. Kotaku. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  17. 1 2 Hickman, Sam (March 1996). "The Thrill of the Chase!". Sega Saturn Magazine (5). Emap International Limited. pp. 36–43.
  18. "PlayStation Sales Showdown - Wipeout". IGN UK. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  19. "Press Release - Archives 1997 - ATI's 3D RAGE technology, SOHO and home PC markets". ATI Technologies Inc. 9 January 1997. Archived from the original on 18 April 2002.
  20. "WayBackMachine Internet Archive - What does the 3D XPRESSION+ PC2TV come with?". ATI Technologies Inc. Archived from the original on 4 April 1997.
  21. "Composer Interview: CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright) - OCRWiki - OverClocked ReMix". OverClocked ReMix, LLC. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  22. "Official CoLD SToRAGE Website". Coldstorage.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
  23. 1 2 "Wipeout Review - Edge Online". Edge Online. Edge UK. 24 August 1995. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  24. 1 2 "Review Crew: Wipeout". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (84): 35. July 1996.
  25. 1 2 "Wipeout review". IGN. 26 November 1996. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  26. 1 2 "Maximum Reviews: Wipeout". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (1): 148–9. October 1995.
  27. 1 2 "Maximum Reviews: Wipeout". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (5): 148. April 1996.
  28. 1 2 "Classic". Next Generation. Imagine Media (11): 169. November 1995.
  29. "ProReview: Wipeout". GamePro. IDG (86): 52. November 1995.
  30. "The Essential Buyers Guide". Maximum: The Video Game Magazine. Emap International Limited (1): 141. October 1995.
  31. Automatic, Rad (April 1996). "Review: Wipeout". Sega Saturn Magazine. Emap International Limited (6): 70–71.
  32. "ProReview: Wipeout". GamePro. IDG (94): 68. July 1996.
  33. "Wipeout 64 overview and ranking". Nintendojo. Nintendojo. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  34. Black, Jared (10 March 2007). "News - WipEout Races to PSP via PS3". VGGen. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  35. "PS Store Release Dates Confirmation". Three Speech: Semi-Official PlayStation Blog. 15 June 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
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