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Wipeout 64

Rated E for Everyone

Platform:

Nintendo 64 (N64)

Publisher:

Midway

Developer:

Psygnosis

Released:

November 1998

ROM Size:

128 megabits

Players:

One to Four Simultaneous

Genre:

Racing/Driving

Save:

Controller Pak (6 pages)

Optional:

Rumble Pak

 

 

> Final Rating: 3.6 out of 5.0

Introduction

The venerable PlayStation racing franchise is now on N64. Developed by Psygnosis in about 8 months, Wipeout 64 takes the best of the original and XL and wraps it into an N64 package. Sporting an improved two-player mode, an all-new multi-player mode, and a new track and vehicle or two, Wipeout fans should be in for one helluva ride. But what about non-Wipeout fans?

Gameplay & Control

If you never experienced Wipeout before, there are a few things you should know. Wipeout is a futuristic racing game with weapons. In a way, it's kind of like F-Zero with its energy pits (meaning each craft has an energy meter) and futuristic theme. But then again, it really isn't like it. This future is much more dark and glum, and the weapons, which are picked up by riding over arrows on the track, add a different dimension. Also, there is one gameplay decision that developers chose to make that will make or break the game for you: When you hit another craft or a wall, you come to an almost dead stop. There is no room for error. But that's probably why a lot of people like the series.

 

Wipeout 64 contains seven tracks, four classes, five crafts, and 15 weapons/power-ups (10 normal and 5 super). Just in case you're familiar with the PlayStation versions, I'll list them here. The tracks are Klies Bridge, Qoron IV, Dyroness, Sokana, Machaon II, Terafumos, and Velocitar. The classes, going from slowest and easiest to fastest and hardest, are Vector, Venom, Rapier, and Phantom. And the crafts are Feisar, AG Systems, Auricom, Qirex, and Piranha II.

 

One thing that makes Wipeout 64 and its siblings stand out is the many interesting ways to play. The following choices are available from the Game Select menu: Challenge, Single Race, Time Trial, Multiplayer, and Options. Challenge is the heart and soul of the one-player experience. There are a series of challenges for you meet, from Race to Time Trial to Weapon. In the Race Challenge, for example, you might have to use a certain craft and get a certain place. Or you might have to destroy a certain number of enemies in the Weapon Challenge. There are six different challenges under each challenge type. You can only play the next challenge by beating the previous one, but there are awards for doing so. The Single Race is a sole one-player battle against the computer competition. Time Trial, which is different from the Time Trial Challenge, lets you race by yourself and makes a ghost car (it doesn't save) for you to compete against. It saves your best times, of course.

 

Finally, there's Wipeout 64's Multiplayer mode, which lets two to four humans race together. First of all, let's discuss how it looks. The two-player mode looks very good and moves briskly. But the best part is that there are 15 crafts on the track at once! The three- and four-player modes, however, are quite different. How so? Well, all the scenery was removed to keep the game running fast. So that means all you'll see is the track, your friends, and a generic, flat background—that's it. It almost feels like you're racing on a completely different level. But the trade-off is probably worth it for fast multi-player racing. The Multiplayer mode is setup in a "League" fashion. You can go into the Options screen and toggle the number of races for the League. Then you get 5 points for first place, 3 points for second place, and 1 point for third place. You also get 3 points for eliminating another craft. Additionally, the screen layout can be configured by pressing Top C at the "Team Select" screen. Also, the L button can be used to enter initials and the R button can be used to change the controller configuration.

 

There are also many Options to toggle. You can load and save data, switch the controller configuration, view records, change audio levels, and toggle a few game options. Those game options, most of which only affect the Multiplayer mode, are Weapons (on or off; also affects Single Race), Default View (external or internal), Catch Up (on or off), Checkpoints (on or off), Computer Ships (on for 13 other crafts in two-player and 1 other craft in three-player or off), and League Races (1, 3, 5, or 7).

 

The control of Wipeout 64 is definitely one area of improvement over the PSX version. The analog Control Stick, which is your only choice, works wonders for the game. No more incessant tapping of the pad is needed; just using gradual pressure on the stick makes it easier to navigate bends. Otherwise, the control is pretty straightforward. The default scheme has the A button for acceleration, the B button to fire your weapon, Bottom C to drop a weapon you rather not have (running over arrows doesn't pick anything up unless you have nothing), Top C to toggle the view, and Z and R for air braking around bends.

Graphics & Sound

Like most games that come out of Europe, Wipeout 64 razzles and dazzles on the screen. The graphics aren't blurry, but they aren't pixelated, either. The backgrounds and surroundings are more detailed than most N64 racing games, and there are some cool lighting effects. But let's talk about what Wipeout 64 isn't. It's not as fast as F-Zero X no matter how you slice it. And there may be 15 crafts on the track in the one- and two-player modes, but no more than three appear on the screen at one time, versus the maximum of 30 that can appear on the screen in F-Zero X. There is also a surprising amount of pop-up, even though it is pushed back far enough and is cleverly hidden at times.

 

Wipeout 64 is also impressive yet not mind-blowing in the sound department. The game doesn't use MIDI, which enables higher quality music (albeit in mono) and more freed cycles for the graphics. There are remixed versions of Fluke's "Goodnight Lover" and "Absurd" and Propellerheads' "Bang On," along with some music from the computer version of Wipeout XL. The fast-paced techno is good, but I wasn't as impressed as others. There's also quite a bit of sampled speech for when you pick up weapons.

Conclusion

If you liked Wipeout before, you'll know what to expect. In fact, you may experience a feeling of déjà vu. So you must decide whether or not Wipeout 64 is worth purchasing for the multi-player mode, which has great two-player racing but only average four-player action. If you've never played Wipeout before, definitely try before you buy, since the game can be likened to Top Gear Rally in that you're either going to like it or not like it. So whether you agreed with me or not about that game may be a good indication of whether you'll like Wipeout 64 or not. It's a great conversion, but Wipeout 64 is still not my cup of tea. Adjust accordingly. Give me F-Zero X, please.

 

Graphics:

4.0

Sound:

3.9

Control:

4.1

Gameplay:

3.4

Lastability

3.9

OVERALL:

3.6

 

DOWN THE ROAD

Like Body Harvest, Midway reduced the price of Wipeout 64 to $39.99 less than two months after its release. To me, that's a sign of trouble at the retail level. Wipeout 64 was considered to be a good port from the PSX by Wipeout fans, so I wonder what went wrong? Well, it could be that the N64's core market, including me, doesn't like Wipeout. Or maybe it got lost among the autumn's other games. Whatever the case, I know that I do not like Wipeout on any system.

 

Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: November 13, 1998

Appendix Added: January 1, 1999

 

 

 

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