Inside Pulse 12

Review: Wipeout the Game (Nintendo Wii)

Wipeout the Game
Developer: A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Party
Release Date: 06/22/10

I’m not really sure why I was chosen to review Wipeout the Game. It might be because I proudly proclaimed to be an acquaintance of Patrick the barely legal lawyer, one of this season’s contestants. It is also possible that it could have something to do the first person to admit to liking “Wipeout” the show on the super secret writers’ forum.

C’mon, what’s not to like? It combines the basic elements of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “American Gladiators” into one family friendly package of Schadenfreude.

And now, you can play it at home without the risk of horrible injuries. Is Wipeout the Game like mastering the big balls or more like cracking your ribs on the Scary-Go-Round?

Let’s find out!

Wipeout offers two modes of play – “Play the Show” and “Challenge Mode”. The former can accommodate one to four players, while the latter is single player only.

With “Play the Show” you select your character from one of four classes and run him/her through the four rounds of the television show. The first round is the Qualifier, a multi-part obstacle course which is run one player at a time, one part at a time. The second round is the sweeper where all players are on screen at the same time standing on separate pedestals jumping and/or ducking to avoid a sweeper arm. The third round is Road to the Final, a free-for-all; all the players are onscreen at the same time fighting the same obstacle, often while dizzy. The final round is the Wipeout Zone, which is like the Qualifier with more drama.

Unlike the television show, there are only four contestants competing (no matter how many of them are human) and there are no eliminations. In lieu of these eliminations, the previous rounds offer each player a time score which translates into “Bonus Time” for the Wipeout Zone.

Also, when your character isn’t on the screen you can launch objects at the other players in order to cause them to wipeout.

Challenge mode offers a collection of single player obstacle courses. If you do well, you can unlock more obstacle course and trophies and the like.

Graphically, the game is fairly pleasing. The characters have a nice, cartoony vibe and the Johns and Jill look like caricatures of themselves. In the good way that is. The obstacles all look like they should and the show’s strange little background details all seem to be present.

Aurally, the game is also true to the show. John, Jill and John provide their own voices, provide running commentary, and the show’s theme song is present in all its quirky glory.

That’s not to say that the presentation is not without its problems. There are some major detection issues. Occasionally walls and platforms can be jumped through, or characters will be knocked over despite not quite hitting an obstacle. The camera is fixed in a wide shot. Most of the time this is a good thing, but on the Scary-Go-Round it can mean that you won’t be able to see any hint of your character for the majority of the obstacle. The audio problems are noticeable, too. It is easy to find commonplace gaming gripes like repetitive play-by-play, but Wipeout will also do strange things like having two of the commentators speaking at once, or having the commentators repeat the beginning of a line of dialogue right after delivering that line.

Despite some collision detection problems, the game controls fairly well. Wipeout has kept things simple. Move with the joystick, jump with A, and duck with B. That is all you need to know to play every single obstacle/mini-game/what-have-you.

All in all, it makes the game feel like a throwback. Wipeout‘s play is evocative of an NES or Atari era game. The game is mastered solely through hand-eye coordination, timing and familiarity with the obstacles. Although, dumb luck also plays its hand. Occasionally wonky physics will send your character flying upwards into the air instead of wiping out. I have completed some courses with relative ease by tripping over an obstacle, flying onwards and upwards and crashing headfirst through the goal.

This throwback feel is aided by character selection. Characters are broken up into small, medium, large and special categories. Small guys are faster and weaker, fat guys are slower but stronger., medium guys are in the medium. The special category is reserved for the characters like the hosts of the show, who play like super-charged mediums.

The game prevents frustration by placing a three try limit on each stunt. This is a good thing as some stunts seems downright impossible If you fail miserably each time, at least you get to see your avatar rag doll around the screen in a grotesque manner. Even the worst performance in the first three rounds only results in a lack of Bonus Time for the final obstacle. As such, one never feels mathematically eliminated from winning the game.

Plus, doing well doesn’t seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things. Win, place, show or fail three things are unlocked every time you play a show. (Up until the final two characters, that is.) These things include new characters and new outfits for characters.

All in all, Wipeout is a decent party game. It doesn’t offer a lot of stuff to do in single player mode, but can afford you a good amount of fun if you have three drunk friends over to your house.

The Scores:

Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Enjoyable
Sound: Mediocre
Control/Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Decent
Balance: Good
Originality: Decent
Addictiveness: Mediocre
Appeal: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Good
Final Score: Above Average Game

Short Attention Span Summary
Listen, Wipeout the Game isn”Ëœt going to re-invent the wheel. It has a number of glitches and is severely limited in gameplay options. That being said, the game can provide stupid good fun. This is particularly true when played with friends or family, especially if the friends are drunk and the family is under ten years old. Children are like tiny drunken adults.