Remembering classic games: Wipeout (1995) | Top Gear
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Best of 2022

Remembering classic games: Wipeout (1995)

We normally prefer our racing games to feature wheels, but we've made an exception for this Nineties gem

Published: 20 Dec 2022

Traditionally here at Top Gear we like our racing games to feature wheels, preferably four of them. We are, however, prepared to make an exception for Wipeout, which doesn’t feature a single wheel. Well unless you count the cartwheel an opponent does when you hit them with a homing missile.

Arriving at the same time as Sony’s groundbreaking PlayStation console in the mid Nineties, this futuristic hover racing game was a key element in making being a gamer, if not cool, then at least marginally less embarrassing. That’s because it featured a thumping techno soundtrack ripped straight from the clubs, including The Chemical Brothers and Leftfield, and an aesthetic that was painstakingly curated by graphic design house The Designer’s Republic.

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Unlike at the club, though, you’d want to make sure you were clean and sober before tackling one of Wipeout’s narrow, undulating courses. The track designs were typified by banked turns, vertiginous drops and claustrophobic tunnel sections. Meanwhile, the floaty craft themselves lunged left and right dramatically with the merest of control inputs and a single collision with the barriers would cause your slick, futuristic hovercar to come to an abrupt, buzz-killing halt. Develop the required tunnel vision and muscle memory, though, and you’d be whipping through the courses like you were Luke Skywalker.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Wipeout was the bestselling of the PlayStation launch titles in Europe but, more than that, it immediately set Sony’s new adult-focused console apart from the more childish Super Nintendos and Mega Drives that had preceded it. And the best part was, you could stick the game disc in a regular audio CD player and conduct a low-budget bedroom rave for one. On second thoughts, maybe forget what we said about ‘marginally less embarrassing’... 

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