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Wipeout: The Game

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Wipeout: The Game

UPC: 047875761735

Platform: Wii

Publisher: Activision, Inc.

Developer: A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games Inc.

Category: Traditional

Style(s): Game Show

Synopsis: Wipeout: The Game is based on the reality television game show, broadcast on the ABC network in the U.S. Players take part in a series of obstacle course competitions, in which they must run, jump, climb, and balance as they race to the finish line. The game is hosted by virtual versions of television personalities John Anderson, John Henson, and Jill Wagner. As in genre-founding Japanese sports entertainment game shows such as Takeshi's Castle (known as MXC in the U.S.) and Sasuke, the run of the courses in Wipeout is reminiscent of a real-life platform game, with suspended pathways, moving parts, and successive challenges that require good timing and balance. Courses are lined with padded walls and are usually built above pools of water, to provide softer landings for contestants who fall short. In the Wii edition of the game, players can customize their in-game characters. The game can be controlled with traditional button presses, but use of the Wii Balance Board is also supported in some competitions. Up to four players can compete in a simultaneous split-screen mode. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide

Package Contents: 12-page Instruction Manual

Controls: Joystick/Gamepad

From the very start, as that flute-y fanfare pelts out of the Wii menu screen, branding in Wipeout: The Game is thorough and well executed. Surrounded by familiar logos, courses, and celebrity hosts, players are left little room to doubt that they are taking part in an authentic, fully sanctioned experience. As Wipeout succeeds in presenting fans with an interactive adaptation of the show, however, it fails as a video game of its own merits.

ABC's Wipeout was inspired by shows such as Japan's Takeshi's Castle and its U.S. basic-cable counterpart, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. Everyday human contestants become real-life Marios and Sonics, to duck, dash, and dive through obstacle courses that are designed like person-sized, platform-style, video game levels. Although spectacularly humbling "wipeout" falls are a crucial part of the entertainment, the television game show is, ostensibly, a real competition that contestants have a fair chance of winning.

In this translation of the TV show back into a video game, this sense of fairness is lost. The platform-style mini-games that compose Wipeout for Wii are derivative and difficult, mainly because of questionable play mechanics and technical inadequacies. Too often, it is not the layout of obstacles or the timed patterns of their moving parts, but clumsy controller response and sloppy animations that impede progress through the game's short, side-scrolling courses. For the player, frustration overwhelms fun, in both frequency and intensity.

The art style tends toward a slight caricature, with muddled shading that gives characters a smudgy look. Ragdoll physics make for entertaining wipeouts, sometimes, but falling contestants look completely unnatural, and the novelty wears off. The writing and performance of commentary from the three celebrity hosts is on par with the TV show, although atrociously lip-synched by their in-game representations. After hearing the same jokes and gags a few times over, it can start to feel like playing through a re-run.

Nevertheless, true Wipeout fans will find all the elements that give the show its appeal: embellished characters, a hint of sophomoric innuendo, and an occasional fleeting moment of ungainly success. It's not much fun to play this game, but it can be fun to watch other people try to play -- and wipe out, with indignity, despite their most earnest efforts. In this at least, the game deserves credit for capturing the spirit of the television show, even if it does so by sacrificing long-term playability for lowbrow schadenfreude. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide

the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.