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Wipeout In 2020

gearsix

An overview of my recent experience with WipEout 1 (from 1995) and using the Beetle PSX HW emulator to make it look good.


For the past fourteen years a European and American team of anti gravity researchers have searched for a way to unbind us from the force of gravity, and with the demonstration of the Nx1000 prototype in the Nevada desert, the world was about to change forever. Despite vast opposition along the way, anti gravity transport has spread across the world and has all but solved the world's fuel and pollution problems. Now four manufacturers have developed their own AG craft for the purpose of racing in the F3600 league, and AG racing has become the most popular sport in the world. Welcome to the world of WipEout, the F3600 AG racing league.

wipeout titlescreen

Gameplay

Here's the premise: you're racing in a missile, against 7 other missiles, around a really curvy track, while shooting at each other.

Missiles are really fast, so you can't race like you're in a car. You have left & right breaks, breaking either way will point the nose of your missile in that direction and cause the rear end of missle to turn in the opposite direction (heavier vehicles will cause these breaks to 'swing' more). You can also turn normally, chances are (depending on your vehicle) you might be driving too fast to make a turn in time. You can also point up and down (very slightly) which can affect your speed depending on the slope of the track.

The weapons are fairly standard, just replace Mario Kart's basic powerups. One thing that stands out is the speed boost, be very careful with speed boost. Chances are it will shoot you forward so fast you'll go straight into a corner.

Difficulty

This game is hard. It's hard, simply because hitting the side of any track will cause you to slow right down. It takes some mastery not to hit the side enough you're able to stay in the lead.

There are 6 tracks, all of which are pretty cool. Each requires you to memorise the track to win it though.
The tracks are provided in a list and go from easier to F#@K! (ragequit). The last track (Silverstream) feels next-to-impossible the first time.

If you manage to beat a Championship on the initial difficulty, you unlock Rapier, which offers a stupidly fast and even more difficult experience.

Playing in current year

Personally I always like to get familiar with the game in its original form and then see what I can do to mod it. Of course, this is just my own preference.

Anyway if you want to play WipEout like it's current year then all you need to do is run it in the Beetle PSX HW emulator.

The controls are fine, although you might want to set it up to use the analog sticks of your controller.
Personally I found this didn't feel right though, the left-right twitching you need to perform at times can mean the amount of time it takes for you to adjust your analog stick from left to right can end up with a crash, so I stuck with the D-pad.

The main improvement to be made is in the graphics though...

wipeout in 1995

They're fine, but lets checkout what you can do if you play around with the options in the emulator.

Like I said, doing this requires the Beetle PSX HW available in the libretro library (used through retroarch). An important note about the emulator is that it's the "HW" version, which makes use of a machines modern hardware to do all sorts of cool stuff with the rendering. The regular "Beetle PSX" emulator doesn't do this and aims to provide accurate emulation.

I've provided a file named Beetle PSX HW.opt, which is the configuration file I used with Beetle PSX HW in RetroArch. You might need to modify the setting to look better or worse (very hardware dependent), so have a play around with the settings.

Beetle PSX HW is a really awesome emulator which provides the option of to override textures too! Lucy for us, some absolute legend has gone ahead and created HD textures for a bunch of the wipeout games: here.

In the emulator options (Start the game, press F1, scroll down to "Options") set "Track Textures" to ON and then set "Replace Textures" to ON; you might need to go back into the game and then go back to the options menu for the "Replace Textures" to appear (just press F1 twice). Finally, download the textures from the github repository (or the download link at the bottom of this page) and copy it to the same directory as your ROM. Rename the downloaded folder from (cue name)-texture-replacements so that (cue name) mathes the filename of the .cue ROM being emulated.

wipeout in 2020

Nice.

Experience

I came at this from a fresh perspective - never played a WipEout game before. I have played Rollecage & Rollcage 2 to the point of mastery in the last few years though (another racing series made by the same developer around the same time period) and I loved those, so I figured these games would be good.

I didn't realise how hard this game was going to be. At the start I thought I should just drop but that's not my attitude, the game was still fun to play so I pressed on.

I reccommend playing the game in first-persion view for an immersive experience, combined with the music it really gets you in the mood.

After trying all the cars I initially though I got on best with was the AURICOM RESEARCH INDUSTRIES craft (Arial Tetsuo ftw). It seemed to be the fastest and heaviest, which made steering it a nightmare but it was so satisfying; being able to swing around other pilots was also a lot of fun.

...unfortunately, the last track in the Championship - Silverstream - is hell. So I had to use the ANTI-GRAVITY SYSTEMS car, I used John Dekka. After a lot of trying, I actually managed to beat it! I got to a point where I was able to beat every single track EXCEPT for Silverstream reliably. It can be done though.

Then I unlocked Rapier. After trying to beat the Championship on Rapier I've finally given it a break (I was very close to giving up before). Although now I can comfortably beat any track on the regular (venom) difficulty with ease, so I think I could beat it if I trained enough but I've spent enough time playing just to get to where I am now and I'm excited to check out the rest of the series.

September 2020


Addendum

Here's some awesome trivia from the film Hackers (one of the best and most 90's films):

An early beta version appeared in the teen cult film Hackers (1995), in which both protagonists were playing the game in a nightclub.

My description of the feeling you get playing this game gives you:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWLoUjz-w-8

Resources

Files

If any of these links go down, feel free to contact me (I have the files below archived).