Credit: Sony / Dominic Szablewski
Today, Sony is one of the big three in console gaming, but it was a newcomer in 1995 when it launched the original PlayStation. This machine was light-years ahead of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo battling throughout the early 1990s, and games like Wipeout used all that power to do things you previously only saw in arcades. Despite the game’s importance, you can’t purchase it legally today. So, a developer has created a web version of the game, essentially daring Sony to do something about it.
The original PlayStation changed the game when it launched with the optical disc game format. Nintendo was still using cartridges and would do so for another generation, but the PlayStation’s discs provided ample storage space for beefy games and high-quality audio. These features were utilized to great effect in Wipeout, one of the PS1’s launch titles. It was a revolution in 1995, but the game is currently abandoned. Even with Sony’s new retro games streaming features in PS Plus, there’s no legal way to play Wipeout on today’s hardware.
If the “legal” component isn’t a concern, there are ways to emulate it. The game’s source code was even leaked in 2022, and that’s how Dominic Szablewski put Wipeout in your browser. Just go to the page Szablewski set up, and you can download the full 144MB game. Alternatively, an 11MB “minimal” version doesn’t have the intro video or music. The controls are a bit clunky, but it’s the same anti-grav racer that wowed gamers almost 30 years ago.
Bringing this iconic game back from the dead was no easy feat. Szablewski explains that the source code was a mess, but not because the original developers did a bad job—the issue was all the Wipeout ports that followed. According to Szablewski, the DOS, Windows 95, and ATI Rage Edition releases were “haphazardly piled on top” of each other each time a new developer team came in. Still, he was eventually able to piece together the original game with an unlocked frame rate.
Szablewski says he’s tried to contact Sony about bringing Wipeout back from the dead, but no one ever responded. “Either let it be, or shut this thing down and get a real remaster going,” he tells Sony in the blog post announcing the WebGL browser version. This is the easiest and fastest way to play the classic game, but maybe not the best. Szablewski recommends other projects, like Wipeout Phantom Edition, over his own. However, that requires a lot more legwork compared with clicking a link.
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