Wipeout 64 – Definitive 50 N64 Game #36
The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games
Despite being bought by Sony in 1993, the Liverpool developer Psygnosis continued to make games for other platforms until it was fully integrated with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe in 1999.
This gave the studio the opportunity to bring its Wipeout series to the N64 in 1998.
Super-fast futuristic racer. How many times have you already heard me say that on this list? The N64 had plenty of them, and Wipeout 64 is one of the best.
The Wipeout franchise is one of the quintessential and premiere series in the genre, and Wipeout 64 inherits all of its best properties – long,wild, and winding courses, a pumping techno soundtrack, beautiful and bleak futuristic settings, and raw difficulty.
The point isn’t to fly through courses with ease, but to work at them, replay them over and over, and truly learn them at an intimate level. To master Wipeout 64, you have to know the game in every detail.
Wipeout 64 is a very uniquely structured racer. Rather than offering a series of “cups” that introduce different tracks over a series of increasing difficulties, this game’s main mode is actually called Challenge, which is composed a series of races with different win criteria.
The four types of challenges are Race, Time Trial, Weapon, and Super Combo. Each is fairly self-explanatory. Races are simply races against computer opponents, time trial removes that element of chaos and simply asks you to clear courses in under a set time, weapon has you fighting your way through races with the objective of destroying opponents, and Super Combo pairs up race rank with kill count as win conditions. Bronze, silver, and gold medals are awarded for all challenges depending on how well you do.
Wipeout 64’s tracks are littered with boost pads and item dispensers. In addition to simply taking on the game’s courses, you’re often additionally tasked with dealing with computer controlled adversaries, depending on the mode. The arsenal at hand includes mines, missiles, bombs, and an intimidating line-up vehicle-specific super-weapons.
You can also play through the courses in individual races in Single Race Mode, or challenge yourself in Time Trial Mode. Wipeout 64 also introduced split screen multiplayer to the Wipeout franchise.
Wipeout 64 is comprised of a mere 7 tracks… which doesn’t sound like much, but each is expertly and beautifully crafted. Each demands careful and complete memorization, and each stays fresh as you work through it in different modes and difficulties.
Wipeout 64 contains some of the finest music found on the Nintendo 64. Psygnosis managed to cram 9 tracks onto the game cartridge, with the run-away standout being Bang On! by Propellerheads. I can’t help but rocking out every time it comes up, even now.
Sadly, Psygnosis, later known as Studio Liverpool, was closed by Sony 2012. The future of Wipeout remains uncertain.
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Check back next week for entry #35 on the Definitive 50 N64 games.